Starring: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar, Rahul Bose
Directed by Zoya Akhtar
Achhe din seem to continue for women in Bollywood. Right from the early moment in Dil Dhadakne Do, when Anushka asks Priyanka for a dance and they swing together in wild abandon, Zoya makes it pretty clear that her heart beats for women and for overhauling gender roles and expectations. The film offers an array of interesting women. All belong to the affluent strata and hence, presumably, form the creamy, liberated yet superficial layer. Well, not quite. Here we have complicated, flawed women with their unique dilemmas, trying hard to rise above them. There’s Neelam Mehra (Shefali), a wife who lives with the fact that her rich husband has forgotten her and gets by because of his user-friendliness for her. Then there’s a daughter, Ayesha (Priyanka), who is denied her legitimate entrepreneurial bequest by her tycoon parents. She goes ahead and rebels quietly and unobtrusively by making a success of her own business, yet never quite gathers courage to assert herself, is happy avoiding rather than facing up to ugly situations. And then there is a free bird, Farah (Anushka), who ditches all domestic expectations to make a living by dancing on a ship and sailing the high seas; who derives happiness from her work, be it being a waitress or a bartender. Our ‘women’s’ films have traditionally been about tragic, sacrificial, scarred women. It’s a welcome relief then to see women, warts and all, rather than just manicured mannequins. A couple of men turn out as interesting, be it an embattled rich man Kamal Mehra (Anil) or the son and the heir Kabir (Ranveer), who wants to fly planes rather than wallowing in the family business. It only helps that the entire cast is in fine fettle, specially the likeable, energetic Ranveer, the rock-solid Anil and Shefali and Priyanka and Anushka.
A lot about DDD reminded me of Honeymoon Travels Private Limited, including the unique voiceovers (there it was the radio, here I’d rather not tell). There it was about different sets of couple coincidentally caught together on a bus. Here there are families and friends cruising together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mehras. In both cases, it’s about the calm before the storm, about the simmering troubles in dysfunctional families and final explosions, shakeup and chaos. It’s about people and their pretences, about relationships revealing their true colours on a journey when time stands still. The dilemmas, guilt, secrets, reconciliations, revelations seem to have been drawn from almost the same template. Why, they even have similar songs in almost similar situations. Gallan Goodiyan could well be Sajnaji vaari vaari, heartily sung, joyously choreographed, the song that gets the entire cast on its toes. The instant connect of a Honeymoon Travels Private Limited, however, goes amiss.