The year in review

Best of Bollywood 2015: ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’

Even affluent families come apart at their designer seams.

Our round-up of the best scenes in the year’s most interesting films ends with Dil Dhadakne Do. Zoya Akhtar’s third movie is the best-dressed and happiest of the dysfunctional dramas that have been highly regular in 2015.

Dil Dhadakne Do

The Mehras are dressed to the eighteens, even when they are lounging about at home. When they decide to take a Mediterranean cruise and invite their similarly well-shod friends, well, we can’t even begin to imagine how many monogrammed suitcases are lying in that ship’s hold.

But family tensions simmer beneath the glamour, the glitter, the air kissing and the sartorial immaculateness. Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) is unhappy with her marriage; her younger brother Kabir (Ranveer Singh) does not want to run the family business. Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) is on the verge of bankruptcy and his wife Neelam (Shefali Shah) is sick of his philandering. The family regularly communes for conversations, sitting upright in chairs and hurling barbs and insults at each other. In one confessional moment, Ayesha blurts out her unhappiness, to the consternation of her parents, and says she wants a divorce. “I called it the confrontation scene,” said Akhtar, who co-wrote the movie with her long-time collaborator Reema Kagti.

Akhtar remains one of the very few filmmakers in Hindi cinema who can get A-listers to look good and act well at the same time. “You do tend to cast from a pool when a film has a certain budget, but these actors are excited when they are given roles like these,” Akhtar said. “You give somebody like Priyanka Chopra her part and she is going to munch on it.”

Akhtar worked with each of the actors separately as well as together. “We did combinations and worked out which character was who in terms of the family tree,” she said. The sequences featuring the Mehras are cut in a classical style, without any gimmicks and using a mix of simple shots and reaction shots. “It is important to see all of them and each of them,” Akhtar said. “If I were shooting in a house, I might have shot it differently, perhaps in a handheld way, but since we were on a ship, we opted for the classic style.”

One of the movie’s highlights is the dexterously shot single-take song Gallan Goodiyan. “When I told my director of photography, Carlos Catalan, that we were going to have a Punjabi song, he suggested that we shoot it like a home video,” Akhtar said. “The choreographers Bosco-Caesar were really excited, and they planned the set according to the dimensions of the ship. I have had great experiences on the film – thankfully, I had actors like Anil Kapoor, who behaved as thought it was his first day on a film set.”

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