Director: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Shefali Shah, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose
The Mehras in Dil Dhadakne Do are dysfunctional in a uniquely Indian manner. So the parents are concerned about status, appearances and ‘log kya kahenge’. They are willing to use their son to rescue their sinking company, but refuse to recognise their daughter’s business acumen. The mother sagely advises her to abandon her career and focus on her family.
And yet these people don’t come off as villains. This is testament to the talent of director and co-writer Zoya Akhtar, co-writer Reema Kagti, dialogue writer Farhan Akhtar and the brilliance of Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah, who play the Mehras. Dil Dhadakne Do soars because of their moments. The other standout character is Ayesha Mehra (Chopra). This is a woman who has spent her life thwarting her desires. She has the confidence to build a successful business but can’t summon the strength to stand up to her parents.
Zoya gives you plenty to drool over — almost the entire film is set on a cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean, so you can imagine the potential for eye-candy. There are soaring top shots of the ship, of gorgeous towns in Turkey and Greece, and of staggering fashions. Even the furniture is impeccably styled. Like Zoya’s coming-of-age film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, this is an aspirational travelogue designed to help you escape your own dull life, at least for a little while.
What doesn’t work so well is the pacing in the first half. The set-up takes too long. A voiceover, amusing at first, starts to grate because it’s over-used. I also wished that the depth in the writing had extended to the characters of Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma. Both are charismatic, capable actors, but their parts are under-written. So be prepared to get restless in the first hour, but once Dil Dhadakne Do gathers momentum, it will force you to care about this frustrating, flawed family.