Movie Review(s): Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns & Dil Dhadakne Do (Hindi)

Piku (Deepika Padukone) is unlike any other character you would have come across in Indian cinema. She is perhaps the very embodiment of the Indian woman today, capable of running the affairs at home and work (she is an architect), financially and sexually independent in her choices, and perhaps a tad little cantankerous and combative. Just like her hypochondriac dad Bhashkor (Amitabh Bachchan). But Piku, the movie, isn't just about Piku. It's also about her equation with her trying father, who on a whim decides that he needs to go to Kolkata to prevent his ancestral home from being sold off - a nice metaphorical touch about taking care of one's parents in their old age.

Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Dil Dhadakne Do
And so comes the taxi agency owner Rana (Irrfan Khan) into their lives as they embark on a journey about love, letting go of oneself and self-discovery. Poignant and refreshing, here's finally a story (full credit to Juhi Chaturvedi) so identifiable and relatable, the scatalogical humour aside, it could very well be happening in any of our lives. And to top it all is Anupam Roy's fantastic music score and a first-rate performance from the ensemble cast (Irrfan is flawless, and Deepika too does well, but her dialogue delivery is still a bit awkward).

In complete contrast is the character of Tanu in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. She is so fickle, selfish and unsure of what she wants in her life, that she just walks out of Manu in spite of being married to him for a good couple of years (but why on earth go to a mental rehabilitation centre?). A loveless marriage she says. That he's boring. Not the guy she fell in love with. Manu for his part claims her to be bipolar. But when all is said and done, she realises how impulsive she had been. But she is not the one to easily accept that she's been mistaken. Being the live-wire she is, she fools around with random guys back in her home town, before chancing upon her ex-boyfriend once again. Manu, in the meanwhile, meets the strong-willed Haryanvi athlete Kusum and falls for her hard. All because she looks like Tanu. And thus emerges a love quadrilateral of sorts, but will Tanu and Manu realise they are still in love and that they cannot live without the other?

Director Aanand L. Rai keeps the movie light and entertaining, filling the small town milieu with delightfully humorous (but illogical) situations and talented actors like Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut, who truly shines as Tanu and Kusum. It's possibly one of those rarest of the rare double roles where you end up equally rooting for both the characters. Unfortunately Aanand loses grip of the situation post interval. The momentum slackens and you begin to get the idea of how all of this is going to end. And you don't like it one bit. But when the inevitable finally happens in a shoddy climax, you begin to realise how you hate both Tanu and Manu for wrecking the lives of others. That how insensitive and self-absorbed they have been. While one wishes the story to have taken a less contrived route, there's no denying its inherent borderline-craziness.

If Piku was a road movie, Dil Dhadakne Do is one for the seas. Zoya Akhtar's debut film Luck By Chance was so brutal and incisive in its exploration of Bollywood's seamy side, I had a hard time relating to the fantastic (not in the usual sense, of course) Zindagi Na Milegi DobaraDil Dhadakne Do goes one step further, talking about affluent people and their clichéd problems which could have been very well sorted out if they had an open heart-to-heart conversation, but aren't able to do so because of the middle-class attitudes they harbour. Oh the hypocrisy! So you have the family patriarch wanting the son to take over his ailing business empire despite his daughter being the one possessing the business acumen, the long-suffering silent wife, the son who wants to follow his heart, and the daughter who is trapped in a loveless marriage with a chauvinistic man. All of this unspools through the character of Pluto Mehra, the family dog, with a voiceover by Aamir Khan that's reminiscent of PK.

The cruise, the film I mean, is all style and gloss, and strains for emotional depth when it's most needed, and is plain boring given its close-to-three-hours runtime. It's utterly incomprehensible how a movie filled with so many people can be utterly dull and lifeless. Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah, playing the married couple of thirty years, strike a chord with their tremendous performances, and I wish the movie explored a bit more of their relationship and their dwindling love for each other. Ranveer Singh is the other major draw as the confused rudderless son who is still figuring out what he wants in life, but the sub-plot as such is all been there, done that. Dramatically inert and dysfunctional for the sake of it, Dil Dhadakne Do ultimately lacks the very Dil (read soul) in its title.

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