Sunday, June 07, 2015

Dil Dhadakne Do 

Poor Rich People
Bollywood should know a bit about hypocrisy—the all-is-well attitude on the outside, while underneath is the misery, the bad marriages, the wheeling-dealing, affairs, heartbreak, vicious gossip;  wives who endure humiliation because they have nowhere to go, or don’t want to give up the good life.  Zoya Akhtar, an industry kid herself, transplants these stories on to a cruise ship populated by Delhi high society, that can win the hypocrisy sweepstakes any day.

For the not-so-rich, there is vicarious thrill in being told that money and designer togs can’t buy happiness, and watching despair unfold on a luxury cruise and exotic locations. For the designer togs wearers crowding a South Mumbai multiplex, maybe there is some identification with the characters on screen.  Otherwise, all that sheen just covers a thin plot, trying to be progressive, but showing its conservative roots. A dog called Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan) is the observer of this human mess and commentator (Javed Akhtar’s words).

Self-made industrialist Kamal Mehra is facing a cash crunch, but to keep up pretenses, he still goes ahead with a cruise to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his marriage with Neelam (Shefali Shah). Love has flown out of the relationship—he has his affairs that everyone knows and bitches about; she pretends nothing is wrong. They have pushed their daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) into an arranged marriage with the pompous Manav (Rahul Bose) and believe that a child will solve all their incompatibility problems.  Ayesha has worked to set up her own business, but gets no appreciation for it.  When the cards for the anniversary cruise go out, her name is not even there, her brother Kabir’s (Ranveer Singh) is, because she is “no longer a Mehra.”  Kabir is a happy-go-lucky guy, more interested in flying than in his father’s business, but as the designated heir, he has to take it over.

With all this baggage the Mehras and their friends board the cruise liner. The matrons gossip and match-make; the supposedly happy couples bicker, Kabir is being ‘fixed up’ with a rich girl Noorie (Riddhima Sud) to seal a business deal with her father, while he falls in love with a dancer Farah (Anushka Sharma) with the ship’s entertainment crew.  Meanwhile Noorie has a romance going on with the son (Vikrant Massey) of her father’s enemy. During the journey and around the time the love of her life, Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) arrives, Ayesha throws a bomb by demanding a divorce from Manav, and is given the full ‘khandaan ki izzat’ lecture.  All this sounds so last century-- even though there is still a kind of resistance to divorce, these well-heeled people behave as if it’s the end of the world.  The tagged on scene in which Sunny berates Manav for his chauvinism is phony and cringe-making.

The biggest problem with the film is its shallowness, its inability (or unwillingness) to dive into any emotional depths, so that you don’t care for any of the characters. Only Ranveer Singh gets to play around with some humour and utter good lines (Farhan Akhtar).  Anil Kapoor manages to make the opportunistic Kamal Mehra somewhat likeable, but the others are tepid—their look and style more watchable than their performances.



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