Review: Dil Dhadakne Do a stodgy ride in shallow waters

Review: Dil Dhadakne Do a stodgy ride in shallow waters

Director: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Shefali Shah

The least one expects from a Zoya Akhtar film is visual sparkle and technical sheen. Dil Dhadakne Do, set on a luxury cruise liner, has both in ample measure.

Sadly, however, there isn't too much more to this convoluted drama about a maladroit family of four – actually of five, if one counts the smart-alecky pet mastiff who doubles up as omniscient narrator.

Stodgy and somnolent, Dil Dhadakne Do takes nearly three hours to make its way to the predictable heart of the matter, which, of course, is that you do not choose your parents and siblings. They just happen and you must let your heart show you the way to make the best of what life throws at you.

The film, scripted by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, takes many a detour on the way in search of excitement. More often than not, it loses its way in a maze of its own making.

It has a stellar cast and a couple of noteworthy performances (Anil Kapoor as a self-obsessed patriarch and Shefali Shah as his disgruntled wife stand out), but is on the whole a rather routine outing for the younger stars (Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Farhan Akhtar).

Lives threaten to come unstuck during a celebratory cruise that wealthy Delhi couple (Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah) decide to take with family and friends to market their 30th wedding anniversary.

But the couple have little to celebrate. Neelam and Kamal Mehra are always at each other's throat and struggle to maintain a "happily married" façade.

Their two children, too, have major issues with them. Daughter Ayesha (Priyanka), who now lives in Mumbai with her as-dry-as-dust entrepreneur-husband Manav (Rahul Bose), feels that she doesn't get her due from her parents.

Son Kabir (Ranveer), on the other hand, is stifled by his dad's plans for him to take over and turn around the family business that is battling bankruptcy.

Kabir, whose passion is flying, is in despair because the family plane is on the line as part of Kamal Mehra's strategy to shed his company's unproductive assets.

On the ship, their equations with each other are tested as Ayesha encounters her first love Sunny Gill (Farhan Akhtar) years after they were forced to part ways and Kabir falls in love with danseuse Farah (Anushka).

The family dog (voiced by Aamir Khan) is a keen observer of human foibles, but the lines that the animal speaks (written by Javed Akhtar) goes over rather predictable territory in terms of insights into the nature of man-woman relationships.

Dil Dhadakne Do never rises above the simplistic and pedestrian, with the characters mouthing cliched and sweeping, if not inane, statements about the troubles that men and women bring upon themselves as a result of the yawning gap between what they say and what they do.

That's all very well, but does one need to sit through a three-hour film for that truism to sink in? Eminently avoidable.

The problem with Dil Dhadakne Do is that it is far less hip and cool than it pretends to be.

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