Dil To Pagal Hai
(Candy floss that may give you a
CAST: Shah Rukh Khan, Karishma Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit,
DIRECTOR: Yash Chopra.
Glide straight into a placid lakeside.
Woe betide. A girl, on the cusp of womanhood, is assailed
by tumultuous feelings. Rejected in love, shes
consumed by jealousy. Breaking into tears, she flings
pebbles at the sky, asking the divine forces, "Why
did you do this to me?"
That sensitively etched scene in Yash
Chopras Dil To Pagal Hai is alone worth the price
of a ticket. Add to that a rousing dance showdown, the
techno-savvy use of split screens which elevate a song
sequence way above the ordinary and some stray moments of
charm, and youre gurgling like a baby treated to
candy floss. When it comes to vignettes of tenderness,
Chopra is still boss.
So much for the upbeat news. The
downside is that, taken in its entirety, this
eagerly-awaited romantic musical is a let-down. Quite
clearly, your disappointment can be sourced in its
half-cooked screenplay and sketchy characterisations (no
one appears to have even a hint of a background resume).
As disturbingly, myriad plot hooks flutter on in the air
like wounded sparrows. For instance, much is made of
Ganpati icons which are ultimately left lingering
ostensibly on a studio shelf.
Like it or not, the Chopra world now
appears to teem with familiar elements which even strike
you as cliches - be it a young woman tasting booze for
the first time a la Sridevi in Chandni, or Kajol
in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, the
business about turning around to cast a meaningful look
(DDLJ again), a rain-splashed ditty, solo boogies and of
course, a sudden flight of fancy to foreign locales,
Switzerland being replaced by Germanys
Baaden-Baaden for that token touch of difference.
Hello Chopra saab, whats
going on?.. you often want to yell. Okay, so the glamour
and gloss are goody gumdrops, right from the
satin-sheeted boudoirs and the hip-hop stage rehearsal
rooms to the ultra-cool costumes. But what about the key
factor called story-telling? To be sure, the kick - off
premise is enticing - the cushy belief that somewhere
someone is destined for all of us. Wait for an eternity,
if need be, and youll discover that alliances of
the heart are made in heaven.
However, this simple homily isnt
supported by an adequate or fluidly told narrative. In
place of passion, theres for too much
toing-and-froing as an ace director of stage musicals,
Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) divides his quality time ever so
passively between Pooja (Madhuri Dixit), the woman of his
dreams, and Nisha (Karisma Kapoor), the girl who has
always adored him as if he were her own teddy bear.
Snag : Pooja is already committed to a
wide grin (Akshay Kumar as awkward as ever), who keeps
jetting off to foreign shores to conduct some mysterious
business. Meanwhile, even if Pooja is deeply in love with
Rahul, she holds back, turning her lips away whenever the
stage-whiz puckers up for a kiss.
As for the devoted Nisha, either fate
intervenes in the form of a fractured foot or a contrived
twist of circumstances, despatches her pronto to London,
so the other coosome twosome con break into jigaloos on
those grassy slopes of hope.
Needless to matter, after several reels
of mandatory tears and jeers, the right man wins the
right girl as if she were a ready-to-take-home pizza. As
for those asides of shopping for gifts on
Valentines day, gasping at a jolly Jack-in-the-box,
Poojas take-off on the directorial orders of the
theatre director, not to forget the endearing credit
titles with an assortment of real-life couples mugging
before the camera, well, theyre all cute. But
thats about it.
Positive factors collide against the
negative throughout. On the plus side, count Sarmishta
Roys splendid set designs, Aditya Chopras
dialogue (lending the much-needed pangs of youthful angst
to the proceedings), Uttam Singhs music score
(especially the hummable Are re yeh kya hua)
and the pastel-hued cinematography by Manmohan Singh.
The choreography by Shiamak Davar and
Farah Khan ranges from the energetic to the appealing.
Yet, how you wish it had been breathtakingly exceptional.
Of the cast, once again after Pardes,
Shah Rukh Khan appears to have been put on leash, making
you miss his usual inventiveness and unbridled zest for
dramatic intensity. Like most of Dil To
okay and clinically correct when he could have been
extraordinary if permitted to cut loose.
Madhuri Dixit looks gorgeous and
delivers a bankably expert performance. Karisma Kapoor is
excellent, despite her abbreviated role, breathing
fulsome life into the memorable lakeside scene, besides
dancing as if she had thunder and lightning in her feet.
Thats it then. Yash Chopra could
have given you a knockout of a love story 97 but
appears to be content in confecting just a fairly
palatable one - like delicious icing on an oh-so-so cake.
- The Times of India, November 01 1997