The truth is that, for me at least, there is no way to do an unbiased review of Dil Bechara. I found it hard to even watch the trailer of the film. It dropped on July 6th, around three weeks after Sushant Singh Rajput's death on June 14th. It was difficult to see him play a jovial cancer patient, laughing, dancing and wooing his co-star. His dialogue, 'Janam kab lena hai aur marna kab hai, hum decide nahi kar sakte. Par kaise jeena hai woh hum decide kar sakte hain' took on a whole new meaning. Every frame reminded me of what was lost and what could have been.
Sushant was that rare thing – a strong actor with star presence. Which was apparent from his first film Kai Po Che! I loved his performance in Shuddh Desi Romance (I wrote in my review that his character, "the irresistibly goofy Raghu" is "easily the most charming guide in Hindi cinema since Dev Anand's Raju in Guide"). I was one of the few fans of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. His work in MS Dhoni: the Untold Story and Sonchiriya was terrific. Even in uneven films like Kedarnath, he held his own.
I didn't know Sushant well but over the years, I interviewed him several times – the last during the promotions of Chhichhore in September. He was smart, candid and always ready to experiment. In December 2016, he featured on our first FC Unfiltered. We recorded the show with students at Jai Hind College. In 2017, we shot a show in which he tried to explain his enigmatic tweets and Instagram posts. This wasn't to promote a film or speak about his journey. He took out the time only to try and explain how he thinks.
Sushant's death is a loss for Hindi cinema. The circus that has followed his passing is equally sad. Instead of respectful introspection and trying to figure out how we can all do better, what is mostly on display is rank opportunism. The possibility of real change has been hijacked by settling scores and personal agendas. It's ugly and utterly graceless.
In such a vitiated atmosphere, it's impossible for me to see Dil Bechara in isolation and gauge it on its own merits. I have no wish to contribute further to the noise.
I wish director Mukesh Chhabra and his team the best for their film. I hope the troubled journey of Dil Bechara finds a happy ending. And Sushant, wherever he is, finds a semblance of serenity.