Saturday, 26 March 2011

Dil To Pagal Hai

Directed by: Yash Chopra
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Karishma Kapoor, Akshay Kumar
Released: 1997
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

It was my fourth Bollywood movie and also the one that confirmed my love for Bollywood forever. It was the last step that I took in my obsession with Madhuri Dixit, Shahrukh Khan and Indian cinema in general. It is for me what Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is to many others – the ultimate romantic Bollywood movie. It doesn´t have much of a story. It has a rather slow pace. It has kitschi things like running on green meadows and feeling each other´s presence, even while you don´t know the other one exists. And it is primarily not about twists of fate, but about a feeling.

Rahul (who else then Shahrukh Khan with that name, right?) and Nisha (Karishma Kapoor) are the best of friends and together with a bunch of other friends they form a famous dance troupe. Rahul is a director and choreographer, Nisha, as it would seem, the best dancer for miles and miles around. Nisha loves Rahul, but never told him. After all, Rahul is one unromantic and cynical guy, who hates all the lovy-mushy stuff. He loves only one girl, but she unfortunately exists only in his mind and resembles more of a fairy then a human being. And Rahul wants to make a new play based on this illusion, which he lovingly calls Maya. After everyone around him makes it clear they do not understand her character, he still sends them all to blazes and is adamant. Rehearsals start. And as soon as they do the nightmare of all directors strikes – Nisha injures her feet and is unable to dance. Depressed and angry, Rahul stays in the rehearsing hall till the late evening and without much of a thought he starts playing the drums. To his great surprise the gentle, rhythmical tinkling of somebody´s anklets comes to him in return from the neighbouring hall.......

Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) is an orphan raised by family friends, whom she affectionatelly calls uncle and aunty. She spends her time with day-dreaming, for which her friends make fun of her. But nothing can shake her belief that God has created everyone as a part of a couple, and only left it to people to find each other. She stubbornly believes she will eventually meet the man of her dreams and they will live happily ever after. Therefore she is nothing less then shocked when Ajay (Akshay Kumar with a rather ridiculous haircut), her best friend and son of „aunty“ and „uncle“, professes his love for her and asks her to marry him. She hastily agrees, still much shocked and not certain at all, but after a while she makes peace with the prospect and tries to convince herself that Ajay is the one. But then one evening she stays late in her dancing school. And once she hears somebody playing the drums nearby, she gives into the rhythm and starts dancing......
She´s beautiful, she´ s cute, she´s sexy..... Why doesn´t he love her?
Oh yeah...... right....... that´s why.

It is obvious, what will happen next, right? In fact, it is quite obvious what will happen since the first minute. The original message by Yash Chopra (for the first time ever not a cringe worthy one) is „Someone, somewhere, is made for you“ and it completely reveals the whole plot. The question here is not „what“, but „how“ and „when“. While the first half of the film moves really slow, introducing the characters and the relationships between them, it builds up the expectations that are fully satisfied in the second. The film sure does have several weak points, But I will get to those later. I found it fascinating that finally there is a film with no negative character at all – and still negative things happen. There is no need for a person to intentionally create problems, because there is love love love everywhere and it makes enough mess by itself, tormenting these nice, but still flawed people. 
Absolutely mesmerized and not believing his eyes. Why?
Oh yeah....... righ........ that´s why.
There is more to the characters than meets the eye, especially the leading pair, but one has to admit it is because of the sensitive and excellent handling of the roles by the actors more then because of the script. Many people feel that Rahul in DTPH is an extension of Raj from DDLJ. When I saw the movie for the first time, I could not make any comparisms as I had not seen DDLJ yet, but today I can surely agree. Rahul is however, a step ahead of a half-childish Raj. He is more mature in thinking, more aware of his aim, and he is more real in a sense that he is more possessive of the girl he loves. He even doesn´t hesitate to say things that he knows will hurt her, but only in hope that she might feel bad after that and come to him. He is selfish in his love, and yet so giving, offering her all his devotion. He is the character that goes through a development. Not exactly a stereotypical love-hater, but not convinced about romantic feelings, up until the moment he finds himself in love, he accepts this new feeling without fighting it. He is still as bratty and with an air of arrogance in the end, but love enriches him and really shows his depth. Shahrukh Khan is a brilliant actor, and even though I do not consider his performances in DDLJ or DTPH as award winning, he is as convincing as only he can be.

Then there is of course Pooja. Rahul´s fantasy about Maya is nothing else then Yash Chopra´s eternal fantasy about an ideal woman clad in white. But once illusionary „Maya“ takes the real shape of „Pooja“ right in front of Rahul´s eyes, dancing in a ray of moonlight, she is not at all a flawless creature herself. She is naive and seems to be all sweet and sugary, she could very easily be rejected as completely unrealistic. But one look into Madhuri´s eyes and Pooja becomes a real character. There is an unspoken, but strongly felt strength in her. What makes Pooja different from stereotypical heroines is not only her decision not to pursue her desire on cost of hurting people who raised her (which up until that point was not the trend in Bollywood movies), but also the way she carries herself. When she decides to give up her dreams, she does so with tremendous dignity. Her silence, smiles, pauses and eyes all emote without much dialogues. She does not speak too much, but you still know she is there, that she is feeling, thinking, longing..... Rahul represents passion in their relationship, while she is dutiful, with a great self-respect, but never cold or proud. Her drawback is her indecisiveness in the first part and her inability to clearly face Rahul in the second. What made me love the character is also the fact Madhuri got to play yet another completely different person. Pooja is like no other of her roles, it doesn´t resemble any of them.

Everyone who knows me also knows that Madhuri/Shahrukh are my favourite jodi. I love their chemistry that is simply burning the screen. They don´t have to eat each other´s head to show you they are in love. One word, one look or just being in the same room creates magic. In a way they are a mature jodi with a great depth and it was also great to see them falling in love bit by bit. There was a slow development of the relationship, which I always welcome in Bollywood films in opposite to „saw-you-in-the-mall-once-will-you-marry-me“ types of romances.
The „main cast“ is complete with Karishma Kapoor and Akshay Kumar. There is not much to talk about when it comes to Akshay, except that he looks somehow nerdy and keeps his OK level of acting. His buddiness with Madhuri was cute though. Karishma, whom many are praising for her performance, was also good, but did not blown me away. While both Shahrukh and Madhuri are so effortless in their craft, that it might almost seem they are not even acting, Karishma does have a sort of Bollywood OTT-ness, which is most apparent in her emotional scenes. She also looks a little out of place at times among Shahrukh-Madhuri-Akshay, who are all in the same age-group, while she is much younger. Still, her and Shahrukh´s friendship looks very natural on screen.
The awkward moment when alcohol makes you tell your best friend you love him.
As I have mentioned earlier there are some flaws to the film, which I wouldn´t label as perfect or the best ever. The first part holds some „teenage“ silliness in some of the dialogues, for example all that Valentine´s day and full moon explanations were very cheesy and one can only curse Aditya Chopra for it. Similarly Karishma´s confession to Rahul on the bank of a lake (in Baden Baden :) )is way too long and on the verge of boring. Another scene that needed more editing was the whole Khandala bussiness and visit to Pooja´s teacher. But the rest of the film makes up for these. For every Valentine´s day crap we have Shahrukh Khan without pants, for every Karishma´s boring crying by the lake we have her excellent drunken scene, for every Khandala visit we have the „Aur pass“ moment (the most sensuous, romantic, gentle, beautiful and at the same time erotic scene of the world cinema). Visuals are beautiful, and I could not care less if there is not a one as clear market place in real India. If we can have superheroes flying through the air and babies delivered by a vacuum cleaner, can´t we have clean markets and studios too? I loved the idea of two people being so close to each other and yet never meeting.
Aur pass......
Aur pass...................
Aur pass...........................................................
The great part of the film is musical score – and what a score it is! Every song is beautiful to say the least. My personal favourites are Koi Ladki Hai and Dhoolna, but every single track makes you want to dance or at least hum along. I was not excited about choreography at first. In fact it looked more like an aerobic training, but once I accepted it, it fitted well. It was different from what we usually see. The picturization of two songs is especially beautiful: Arre Arre is wonderful in showing at the same time Rahul and Pooja bonding as friends and collegues, and their „inner selves“ being very much in love. And Dhoolna is simply a song that you need to see in a Chopra movie. Madhuri looked ethreal in all the outfits and colours and Shahrukh´s loving gaze was, I´m sure, not difficult to pull off at all!
The only problem of this picturization is you don´t  know where to look!
It is also important to realize that Dil To Pagal Hai together with Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge were very different from the rest of the films at the time of their release. HAHK was celebrating family values, DDLJ connected those with romance and finally DTPH was nothing but a tribute to love. It never promised to be anything else. Not perfect. But definitely a classic. Enjoyable, relaxing, touching, uncomplicated in narration but rich with emotions. A film about a feeling.
Someone, somewhere...... is made for you.....


  1. This is the longest and I think best-written review on DTPH I've read until now - good job!
    I got the DVD on my birthday two years ago, but actually I've only seen it once... Why? I didn't even remember Akshay was in it...

  2. I know many people who don´t like this film or they think it is boring. All I can say it is about the way how you perceive it and what you expect from it. I love it completely. Usually when I really love the film I write long reviews :o)

  3. Ally!!! Amazing review agree with absolutely everything especially abt the Madhuri-Shahrukh chemistry!!!! DTPH was my first hindi film that made Madhuri and Shahrukh my fav actors...first time watching it I couldn't believe how someone(Madhuri) could be so beautiful!!! Great review!! And nice blog ^_^

  4. Hello Iffy! Thank you so much! I know that when it comes to SRK/Madhuri you are my "sister-in-arms"!!! :) Let´s pray they make at least one more film together to re.create the magic!

  5. =D right u are my "sister-in-arms" ^.^ Let's hope so..Bollywood needs more Shahrukh-Madhuri magic!!!

  6. Dil to Pagal Hai has been very well reviewed. Good job, Gaja Gamini !

  7. Oh my - so glad to find this page and ur review !!!! I'm a die hard dtph fan, add to that a srk-madhuri fan and the biggest fan of the 'aur pass' scene :)