Dilwale — ha or na?

Last week Ammi and I were faced with a dilemma, 2 Hindi movies and very little time. With exams just around the corner, and well, even with all the time in the world, you need more than a little will power to sit through a 3 hour emotional rollercoaster, there was no chance we could sit through two in the same week.

So I posted a status asking the people of Facebook which should be the chosen one- Bajirao Mastani or Dilwale. A majority voted for Bajirao Mastani and several even commented on how horrible Dilwale was, “cheesy, unrealistic, terrible storyline, stupid attempt..” and the list went on. But of course, I wanted to see for myself, and Ammi was hell-bent on seeing SRK and Kajol reunite “without listening to this Facebook nonsense.” After buying my hot dog, prawn crackers and juice, as we walked into the cinema hall, I expected to either fall asleep, get extremely irritated at how much of a waste of time this was or be disappointed at it defying global expectations, but I actually liked it.

I really liked it.

From the beginning itself everything about the movie was overdone, too good to be true and just overall, a stocking full of idealism, and this seems to have frustrated a lot of people. But what more do we expect from Bollywood?

“There is nothing better than a a Rohit Shetty entertainer. The story and logic take a backseat when it’s a Rohit Shetty entertainer. ‘Dilwale’ looks no different.”

Bollywood is where idealism was born and it thrives just as it has been since 1913. And that’s how it should be, cinema is meant to be a source of escapism from reality and with this thoroughly regimented lifestyle of ours, are we really looking for more of reality? Of course it takes away the thrill of realism in movies, but it adds to the thrill of possibility. Because although the odds of us meeting, falling in love and running through a paddy field without tripping and landing in cow dung a single time, is close to nil, it’s nice to imagine that in some universe (even if its just in the day dreams that Rohit Shetty and teenage girls have in common) its possible. Or even if its absolutely impossible, so what? Its enjoyable, if you’re not laughing with it, might as well laugh at it.

This idealism is what makes Bollywood, really Bollywood, and they pull it off. As a result of westernisation our minds have been steered to believe that every thing should be the way they do it, because the way they do it is right, and nothing should question it. But as an avid lover of all things Bollywood, the randomly choreographed musical performances, the dramatic fighting — dish dish dishum — the against-all-odds love stories, are brilliant. Not because I have an odd taste in movies, but because its authentic to Indian cinema, and if sometimes creativity gets a little bit out of hand, well, the more imaginative the better. The more we try and force realism out of Bollywood, they essentially become Hollywood in another language and Indian cinema too falls victim, losing all authenticity, without mercy, to westernisation.

Another criticism was “SRK’s over-dramatic, unbelievable ‘love’ for the younger bro, and his blind trust in Kajol.”

I agree, the way he expressed his love for his brother made me question what Aiyya has been doing for the past 15 years of my life, and I wondered, is it really possible, to love your annoying brat of a sibling, that much?

Of course it is.

It was a tad bit upsetting that so many people, including myself, found this behaviour alien, because even the kindest man on earth wouldn’t tolerate someone- SPOILER ALERT! particularly someone you’re not biologically related to, to such an extent. But maybe that’s not what’s wrong with the movie, but what’s wrong with us.

Stepping out of the utopia of the set of the film, even in real life, shouldn’t that be the compassion you express to your siblings, the forgiveness you give to those that you love and the hand you lend to people around you. In this world where our personalities are engulfed by pride, our hearts are scarred by mistrust, most often we tend to fight away compassion, for the most part, because its ‘cheesy,’ ‘cliched,’ ‘lame.’ But after watching Dilwale, as cheesy, lame and cliched as it may sound, I wanted to be a hopeless romantic, an over protective sister, a loving daughter, an absurdly enthusiastic friend, and overall, a loving person. Because if one of the worst underground gangsters can forgive, so should we.

And Dilwale seemed to capture how love should be in all relationships. The romance was captured, as it is in any Bollywood movie- although instantaneous, the boys take the time to woo you: with flowers, 5 minute dates, dancing in the rain, and of course, stealing things from your best friend’s shop to shower her with clothes, food, and last but not least phone calls, because the “I love you baby…no you cut the line..” conversations cost more credit than we think.

But of course, nothing makes you feel bitter single than the way SRK looks at Kajol- that itself deserves a 5 star rating. Their inexplicably beautiful ever lasting romance paired with Kajol’s timeless beauty and well, SRK in a white shirt in the rain — teehee, makes the perfect chick flick.

But is that it? Is that all that makes Dilwale good?

Not at all, most of it hit me during the heart warming song “Gerua” — when the variety of gorgeous scenic landscapes were complimented by Kajol’s vibrant sarees and their delicate, simple choreography, Ammi looked at me and said,

“Only Bollywood can do fascinating things.”

And this was in-admittedly true. The wrecked boat and plane on which Kajol just lay on, the intimate romance on the hills of Iceland, the running on water, making a whole song monochrome with particular details coloured, the dramatic embraces in the middle of life size picture frames, the sleeveless saree jackets in the freezing cold…it all just seemed to, very oddly, make sense. It had an uncanny beauty to it, a rare sense of warmth seemed to ooze out of the screen during the whole song and the “stupidity” of it, just didn’t seem to mater.

However, the lies and plot twists of the movie are a must mention, that you definitely won’t miss out on in any hindi film. No one lies like Bollywood characters do and no one twists plots into a discombobulating jumble, leaving you questioning your own sanity as much as they do. Because the term ‘little white lies’ are unheard of in these plots and when they lie, oh boy they lie good. As in the lies are horrible and absolutely transparent, but they’re in-depth, not thought out at all, and just a paradox of funny and frustrating, but mostly funny.

To add to the romance, beauty and drama of it all, there was more that was just icing on the cake. The humour that had the whole cinema exploding with laughter, and jokes I’m sure I’d remember in a few years time and just giggle to myself, were the most memorable to me (you know you’re taking the tragic story of the washerman Ramlal and the gold-digger Pogo to your death beds.) Because even in the midst of a heart wrenching scene, they pull out the most hilarious dialogue and just leave you there with tears streaming down your cheeks and laughter erupting your whole body. The wittiness of the characters, however lame at some-most points had the whole audience gasping for breath with their hands on their bellies, laughing non-stop. However much you try and resist their exaggerated jokes and ridiculous rhyming with every other dialogue, its just impossible.

To top it off melodically, the music was spectacular, relatively few, meaning that there was more dialogue than lyric in this one, but nevertheless beautiful, rhythmic, and of course will have you downloading the playlist- dancing to most on NYE and crying to the rest on Valentine’s Day.

So overall, Dilwale was a majority thumbs up experience for me, just until the end. Kajol’s character, throughout the movie, was the most bada*s heroine I’ve ever seen in Bollywood and I was so glad that finally, an independent, physically strong heroine, that wasn’t a damsel in distress her whole life, had emerged. And I was even more excited that it was Kajol, but right at the end, my hopes blew up in my face, Rohit Shetty style. When she was faced at gun-point with the King, I genuinely thought that she’d fling her saree over her shoulder, pull out her gun or take the villains down with some Taekwondo- of course with exaggerated sound effects because its Bollywood. But instead, she screamed..

“Khaliiiiiiiii!!!!” shattering a few glasses along with my hopes and dreams of a powerful woman in a Bollywood film who doesn’t need a man to defend her. But, baby steps I guess.

But before I wrap up, if I have convinced you to watch the movie, or have persuaded you that the above reasons are exactly what makes Bollywood so bad and not good, that’s fine. But let me give you some insight into the average Bolywood fan’s life. In a country rampant with poverty, terrible health care, an even worse judicial system, and more tragedies that we can so easily name, the three hours of a Bollywood film are a sense of freedom. Liberation from the clutches of reality, the only time they can escape into a land of hope, possibilities, maybes and what ifs. Because although its idealism for us, its optimism to them. In most cases it is one of the few things that inspires them to work a little harder, try a little more, live a little longer. So before we, in the comfort of our homes, watch hindi movies on our expensive laptops, in our three storey houses, and are soon to judge how lousy these movies are, I ask you, put yourself in the shoes of a hopeless, wondering boy, who uses his spare money to buy a ticket- to buy 3 hours of what freedom is to him. Because he doesn’t want reality, he doesn’t care that the punches Varun Dharwan hit were close to impossible and that Kajol’s limp wasn’t even close to realistic. He cares that for 3 hours, its him and a land of possibilities, an escape into timeless land of forever.

So signing off, wishing you a new year filled with dramatic head turns, random musical out-bursts, love at first sight, beautiful scenery and plot-twists for the better,


“Aaj ke baad mujhe apna chehra mat dikhana … jaan le loonga ”
“Don’t ever show me your face again … I’ll kill you”
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