Zoya Akhtar had a kind of a decent start with her debut Luck By Chance some years ago. From then on, she has come quite a long way with her last outing Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara which arguably was the spiritual successor to her brother's debut Dil Chahta Hai. With Dil Dhadakne Do, Zoya has made more than a statement as a filmmaker. She has quite simply announced her arrival as one of the best in the industry today.
Dil Dhadakne Do delves into the lives of a business tycoon, the Mehra family, consisting of Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shetty), parents to Ayesha Mehra (Priyanka Chopra) and Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh), as they celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of the Kamal and Neelam Mehra, which they plan to give shape in the form of a Mediterranean cruise while also inviting friends and family. Trouble starts when the brother and sister try to deal with their romantic lives while taking the pressures of their parents into consideration (or not).
The cruise also holds an opportunity for Kamal Mehra to save a sinking ship, his business, by finding a buyer for 49% of his company's stake in the form of a wedlock between his son and Lalit Sood's (Parmeet Sethi) daughter Nuri (Ridhima Sud). Then there also is also his daughter, Ayesha who is looking to walk out of her marriage with her husband Manav Sangha (Rahul Bose). Things get slightly more complicated for the Mehras with the entrance of two more characters: Farah Ali (Anuskha Sharma), an dancer performing on the ship, and Sunny Gill (Farhan Akhtar), a journalist and Ayesha's estranged lover.
Without doubt Dil Dhadakne Do is essentially a character-based film in its soul. There is relatively little in terms of the story but what takes the cake is Zoya Akhtar's treatment to it. And there are quite a few of them characters, alright. This brings us to the performances of the actors who played them:
It's refreshing to watch Anil Kapoor in this all greyed-out avatar of his in Dil Dhadakne Do. He stands out with his performance as the father who feels the need to stamp his authority on his children even though they are adults. Then again he has played the neglectful husband to his on-screen wife with his usual brilliance. He has literally played a character which has shades of grey (pun intended) to it. There is also a certain growth to his character as the film progresses which takes its full form toward the climax. Superb.
This is Ranveer Singh's best work till date. Starting out as the confused son to a rich dad to an almost lovelorn guy in the second half of the movie, he has outgrown himself as an actor.
Priyanka Chopra has definitely been much better in Dil Dhadakne Do than some of her previous, more loud performances.
Shefali Shetty is simply amazing to watch. She plays the rich housewife to the T. the chemistry between Anil Kapoor and her deserves a special mention for sure.
Anuskha Sharma, Rahul Bose and Farhan Akhtar provide great support throughout the length of the film. They have well-written characters which definitely can be seen through their performances in this otherwise crowded ship of characters.
The song Gallan Goodiyaan deserves a special mention for being an amazingly shot one-take song. There have been quite a few of such sequences in the past but this one is really great to watch since it involves so many actors performing and dancing without breaking their characters.
Dil Dhadakne Do is certainly not immune to some plot holes and continuity errors. The film most certainly needed a better ending. In fact, the last fifteen minutes do grave injustice to the rest of the film. There are some loose ends that have been just left with no explanation from the protagonist which has been played by the dog of the family named Pluto, and voiced by Aamir Khan.
That said, the good in Dil Dhadakne Do certainly outdo the bad. Zoya Akhtar needs to take a bow for Dil Dhadakne Do. She has created a niche for herself. A slot that will be very hard for anybody fill.
There might just be a feeling that Zoya Akhtar's films have particularly "rich" people in the lead characters which is definitely true. But what makes her successful as a filmmaker is the fact that she is able to create characters that are so very relatable to every Indian family.
Strictly speaking from the heart, Dil Dhadakne Do might just be the film of the year. There might be the Khans lining up their releases later in the year and which also might do much better commercially than this one. But this is a film that has its head firmly on its shoulders.