Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dil Dhadakne Do: The World Beyond The Fa├žade

The film opens with the daughter of a wealthy Punjabi couple, miffed by the fact that her name was not on her parent’s twenty-fifth anniversary invitation. The kind of thing that should annoy the fuck out of the daughter, given the world she and her family comes from. From the point go we are told it is a story about ‘Richie Rich’ style children, and their parents, the creators of the kind of world they all now inhibit. And the broader, yet really minuscule society, they belong to. At the heart of it, the film is on the breakdown of a family’s relations, just to keep up with the social pretentious facade they have built around themselves. A satire based around parents treating their children as trade-able assets - of the kind one builds business partnerships and empires around. And the very conflicted response to that by their children – young adults, who are conformists and rebels in equal measure.
Zoya’s craft is innovative by half a step, to say the least. As she directs a tale in familiar Bollywood’s ever so grand fashion, there is a multitude of layers to watch out for. The characters etched out are stereotypical to the extent the north Indian wealthy folks are expected to be, but at the same time minutely subverting the norms of the ‘elite club like’ culture they are drawn from. The film invites its audience to ponder over the heavily paradox and hypocrisy laden lives the characters live - something Zoya to her credit, has added a great deal of nuance to. Even the ‘voice over’ is not used as a tool to forward the narrative but throw light on characters and their relations. There is some fine editing skill at display, especially the use of transitions to end awkward conversations or scenes. There is no time wasted in actually saying out-loud, what is al ready being shown on screen. It is because of these craft elements the film comes across way more subversive than the formulaic Bollywood style - surface level feel of the movie. With heavy use of following shots - the camera movement highlights Zoya’s unapologetic interest in showcasing the grandeur on display. And she makes sure that at no point the characters make a departure from the world they are from. Some sequences with a lizard on the wall style camerawork make you feel the director has matured a fair deal in just the span of three movies. What emerges is a craft that is very Hindi cinema like, yet so much more watchable than many of its contemporary counterparts. Though the film could have done with less use of close-ups and trimming the screen-time given to songs, which rarely add to narrative progression.
This is a movie likely to boast a very high grade on average cast performance, even though some characters excel more than others. Priyanka Chopra displays control in a fashion that she single handedly makes the film so much more watchable. There is a fair amount to appreciate in Anil Kapoor and Ranvir Singh’s performances - who come across as refreshingly natural. The weakest link in the film has to be its dialogues, penned by Farhan Akahtar, which make you cringe a little in your seat, every now and then. But the most satisfying takeaway from the film is seeing a director grow up, and you cannot help but ask, what will she produce when she finally decides to give up the tools of popular commercial filmmaking, and just be left to her plain observational elements?