Review: DIL DHADAKNE DO Is A Realistic Bollywood Family Drama Where The Story Goes Beyond The Screentime

Published by Shah Shahid on

Dil Dhadakne Do is the best Bollywood movie in recent times that deals with family dynamics, without having to portray the characters as caricatures. The film relies on the performances of its leading cast and tells a story that is realistically endearing at times, and comical at others. Read on for my almost perfect movie review of Dil Dhadakne Do.

The dysfunctional family comedy is a Bollywood trope that the industry has exhausted. The characters’ portrayals are most often as one dimensional sterotypes with comical characteristics. Family dramas are no better as they demonize everyday people as conniving villains. Done solely to provide an antagonist for the purposes of creating a conflict. Dil Dhadakne Do is able to keep things very grounded with a sense of realism absent in most Bollywood movies that deal with this genre.

The story is about an affluent nuclear family with deep seated issues formed over years of seflishness, and lack of communication. We see business woes of the head of the family Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor). Kamal’s financial problems are nothing compared to his marital ones. Something the couple ignores for the sake of keeping up appearances for their elite social circle. The matriarch of the family, Neelam (Shefali Shah), tries to hold things together, despite her own self esteem and body image issues. The two actors depict a marriage long past its breaking point superbly. But even better written by writer-director Zoya Akhtar & writer Reema Kagti.

Dil Dhadakne Do Is A Relatable Family Drama That Is Painful And Funny At The Same Time.

Dil Dhadakne Do is Akthar’s third directorial following the success of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. That movie saw Akhtar create realistically believable relationships between the characters. She pulls off the same in Dil Dhadakne Do with a drama that works on multiple levels despite dabbling in a genre that’s quite common in the industry.

While every performance is uniquely amazing, Anil Kapoor & Priyanka Chopra stand out among them all. Kapoor gives a brutally hard portrayal of  a horrible father treating his children like assets and his wife as a business partner. Kapoor shines in the 3rd act when his set-in-his-ways Kamal faces how he’s treated his family which crushes him.

The issues of the parents spill into the children, as daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) attempts to deal with her loveless marriage. And son Kabir (Ranveer Singh) tries to find his place in the world. All the while having their father always berating them over their life choices. The conflicts between each member of the family is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. The film is properly able to portray the awkwardness of heated words exchanged during family arguments. Not to mention the comedy of experiencing those exchanges from the outside, as the audience does.

The Women Of Dil Dhadakne Have Incredible Story Arcs

Chopra is just stunning as an woman bogged down by traditional Daddy issues while contemplating divorce. The depiction of divorce in Dil Dhadakne Do is more as a turning point in one’s life and not as a melodramatic plot device. The movie treats Chopra’s storyline as significantly as, if not more so, than the others’. What makes her story stand out as well is the complete lack of demonization of Ayesha’s husband. 

Sure, Manav (Rahul Bose) is definitely a chuavanistic dick by most standards. But he’s no more of a dick than the arrogant, cocky, wall-street character archetypes we often see. Hrithik Roshan’s character in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara begins as a similar type of dick in the first act in that movie. But what I loved most about Ayesha’s arc was that she was unhappy. Not because her husband was a terrible person, but because she was unhappy. Her internal happiness was more important than any conventional societal standards of what that means. She chooses to leave Manav because of her personal reasons, and not because of any other justification of him being obviously evil. 

Anil Kapoor Gives A Powerful Performance 

Ranveer Singh puts in a performance that is probably one of the most restraint of his career. Having no external aids to his performance, Kabir’s self doubt and self realization is all Singh. And he does it with slightly less flair than usual, but still good. Dil Dhadakne Do has been co-written by Kagti, an impressive director in her own light with the thriller Talaash to her name. Together, both writers are able to pen a story that never diverts away into becoming solely a love story. Nor does it become a convoluted side character ridden mess. Despite the inclusion of impressive performances by Farhan Akhtar as Sunny, Ayesha’s long lost love, and Anushka Sharma’s Farah as Kabir’s new found love. 

Not that the film isn’t devoid of sub plots. There are very minute nods to Kamal’s mistreatment of his younger brother. Then there’s a subplot between two other characters’ Shakespearean-style family drama, all of which are resolved by the end of the movie. While the mad-cap frantic dash to the ending felt rushed, I can excuse it. An emotionally grandiose gesture by the characters felt necessary to overcompensate for their mistreatment of each others for years.

Dil Dhadakne Do Lacks The Usual Bollywood Melodrama 

Many of the movie’s back stories between the characters happen off screen. And this happens more through references and allusions, than flashbacks. Like Kamal’s extra marital affairs and the past relationship between Ayesha and Sunny, which fleshes out the lives of these characters so much more. While still keeping the entire setting of the film restricted to the confines of a cruise ship. The back stories are so rich that it makes one even want a prequel to see the conventional ways that those histories developed. 

Dil Dhadakne Do is an excellent realistic family drama, where the characters lives and problems aren’t limited to the screen time of the movie. But one where the characters are complex and flawed, and aren’t fully redeemed by the end of the story either. The film is able to take the stereotypical Bollywood family movie cliches and repurpose them in a hyper real manner. A story where the fights aren’t full of melodramatically tear jerking one liners, (thanks to the dialogues written by Farhan Akthar). But instead are frustratingly unresolved yelling matches that go nowhere; while entertaining as hell to watch unfold. 

For audiences that love Bollywood glitz and escapism from their real problems, Dil Dhadakne Do may not be their kind of movie. But if watching your favourite actors on screen dealing with relatable problems, while getting you to smile is something that interests you… then this is a must watch.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


Mayank Nailwal · March 22, 2016 at 1:59 PM

The first ever review of yours that I read. Great! ????

    Shah Shahid · March 22, 2016 at 6:53 PM

    Thanks man. I appreciate it!

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