Saturday, September 19, 2009

Film Review: Dil Bole Hadippa!

Not such a ball...

Director: Anurag Singh
Stars: Rani Mukherjee, Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Poonam Dillon, Dalip Tahil, Sherlyn Chopra, Rakhi Sawant
Stars: **1/2

Few films of its stature can have a poorer start than what Dil Bole Hadippa has. The very first scene is a lame replica of the introduction portion one saw in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi with the
Ek Omkar chant in the background. Seriously, there’s been such an overdose of Punjabi culture and clichés in Yash Raj films that it has started to ring utterly false now. The banner is still stuck in the Dilwale Dulhaniya…mould of ‘meri mitti, mera desh’ to evoke forced nostalgia and patriotism. This formulaic tripe, without even a pretense of breaking away from the norm, is enough to turn you off very early on.

The whole plot setting is a contrived one. Fortunately, the film settles down once the central premise comes into play and what you get is a decent fare, thanks almost entirely to the two lead stars and the essential hilarity of their situation in the movie.
Veera (Rani Mukherjee) is a hard core cricket buff, with aspirations of being in the local cricket team, that clashes every six months with a team in Lahore, Pakistan. The match is organized by two old friends (Anupam Kher and Dalip Tahil ) from each side of the border. This is a ludicrous set up for any film and the first match is so shabbily done – it has to be seen to be believed.
Also Rani – with all that chunky jewellery, make-up and ultra feminine demeanour doesn’t quite convince you of her ardour for the game. Compare this with the sporty looks the
Chak De..players or the Bend It Like Beckam girl donned and you’ll see why Dil Bole Happida doesn’t quite cut ice.
The film picks up momentum with Rohan’s (Shahid Kapoor) entry, who comes from London to help his father (Kher) rebuild his team. Veera, excitedly goes for the selection but is turned away from the gate because she’s a woman. The guard jokes that it isn’t a Miss India competition going on. Hence, she decides to put her father’s nautanki company (very convenient arrangement) to good use and dresses up as a guy (Veer) to enter the cricket team.
A Golmaal-type situation arises, and Veera has no option but to play both boy and girl.

Amidst some genuinely funny scenes (Veer cringing to enter the Mens’ room or Shahid saying to her that he’d like to have a man-to-man chat with Rani), the director and writers constantly let the narrative slip into cheap melodrama every now and then, some of it absolutely cringe-worthy. Sample the scene where Veera is asked to leave from the gate at the start. A procession of a goddess is passing by, so the writers use that opportunity to have Rani deliver a sermon on societal double standards. Then there’s also a direct translated copy of Lagaan’s dialogue where her father says to her, “Itne nanhe nanhe ankhein aur itne vade vade sapne” (Small eyes dreaming so big).

Yet, the film has plenty of light moments and the peppy music (good stuff from Pritam) and background score (overused and overdramatic at times) keeps you somewhat engaged. The Gim Shim Kar Le Re song is especially funny.

Rakhi Sawant and Sherlyn Chopra don’t have much to do, except add some sizzle to the screen.
The one reason why Dil Bole Hadippa manages to be watchable is the chemistry between the two leads. Both Rani and Shahid look great together.. One has to be especially impressed with Shahid who has delivered his most effortless performance till date. There’s obviously some inspiration taken from Shah Rukh Khan’s Chak De India act, but Shahid performs with flair and attitude.
Rani is very effective as the Sardar, where her comic timing is excellent. But overall, it’s not a great departure for her neither is it a grand comeback. Watching her in the film is almost like seeing an older Babli.
Dil Bole Hadippa could have been a better film if only the director and writers had not resorted to so many contrivances and push button effects. The climax is actually the worst one has seen in a while, with the film going into Rang De Banasti mode with a heavy duty lecture, where Rani evokes everyone’s name from Indira Gandhi to Kiran Bedi. For a film with a plot as flimsy as this, it seems laughably audacious to try and shove in a feminist angle also.

In all this, the best part of the story is given the short shrift. There isn’t a proper culmination to the Shahid-Rani love story and just when you’re waiting for a final emotional confrontation, the credits start rolling with the lead dancing away to the title song.
See it if you absolutely must or just for the lead pair.
-Sandhya Iyer