Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) – A struggle of Daughter, Wife and Woman in today’s (conservative) society

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating : 4/5
My Rating : 4/5

You might think this film is filled with laughter and humor. You might think that it will be very entertaining and it will made your day after watching it. Yes, it is funny. Yes, you will laugh. What you dont know is Zoya Akhtar’s film is more than just an instrument to make people laugh. She will pinned down a message in it and you will find yourself pondering about it. At least, i found myself doing that. The plot started when Mr and Mrs Mehra (acted by Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah) invited their friends to join them celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in a cruise ship. It was their eldest daughter, Ayesha (acted by Priyanka Chopra) plan to begin with. They began their journey without any disturbance; enjoying their time together along with their youngest son, Kabir (acted by Ranveer Singh) and their family’s dog , Pluto Mehra. In a first glance, they looked like a typical upper class Indian family where money and career are the measurement of success. Where does Zoya hinted a woman’s struggle in a current society ; i’ll show you in a following paragraphs.

A daughter’s struggle.

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Farah Ali, a free spirit dancer.

On a cruise ship, Kabir found himself fell in love with Farah Ali (acted by Anushka Sharma). He loves the fact that they are totally opposite in nature and how farah inspired him to pursue doing what he wanted to do. Farah shared with Kabir about her past ; how she aspire to become a dancer but it was not sits well with her own family. Farah knew she wont be able to pursue her dream if she didnt take charge of her own dream. What did she do? She ran away from home, leaving her family behind and funding herself to learn dance at the art institution. How many people out there like Farah? I am sure it is more than thousands. While people are claiming things has change for girls today, it is indeed very slow and frustrating process. Kabir, as we known all his life has been sheltered and never did anything like it was drawn to Farah. Kabir wanted to become a pilot originally but it has been rejected by his parents saying it was not a real career and he should focus on running their family business. He kept it quiet and running his family business but deep down, he knew it wasnt right for him.

Ranveer Singh as Kabir Mehra.
Ranveer Singh as Kabir Mehra.

A wife’s struggle.

Mr and Mrs Mehra, An Unhappy Married Couple.
Mr and Mrs Mehra, An Unhappy Married Couple.

Mr and Mrs. Mehra (Ayesha’s and Kabir’s Parents) has been playing a charade of great couple for god knows, how many years. They are both miserable but didnt tell each other about it. Mr. Mehra has been unfaithful to Mrs. Mehra for for the past few years of their marriage. Mrs. Mehra knew about it but she wont confront her husband about it. Why? most wife wont leave her husband if she herself are not educated or didnt has any job. She depended solely on her husband and never earn a penny her whole life. This is just an ugly truth. Kabir and Ayesha knew about it but due to a nature of ‘Mind Your Own Business’, they didnt dare to meddle in their parent’s affair. Mrs Mehra acting among her friends how Mr. Mehra is a romantic and good husband. Her friends knew about Mr. Mehra’s infidelity as rumors about it spread faster but they shut their mouth to avoid any conflicts. How many women out there is letting themselves rotting in a prison of a bad and unhappy marriage, you tell me? Ayesha tried to suggest getting a divorce to her mother but has been dismissed completely. Divorce is a thing that scared women the most especially in a conservative society because it shows that you failed to be a good wife and you are completely undesired by your husband.

Anil Kapoor as Mr. Mehra and Shefali Shah as Mrs. Mehra
Anil Kapoor as Mr. Mehra and Shefali Shah as Mrs. Mehra

A woman’s struggle.

Ayesha Mehra is torn between career and tradition.
Ayesha Mehra is torn between career and tradition.

Ayesha Mehra, a self made entrepreneur. Despite her own success, she was being belittled due to her failure of being an obedient wife and good daughter in law. Among these three characters, i felt somewhat connected with Ayesha the most. She obeyed her parent’s decision to having an arranged marriage with Manav Sangha. She adopted his name and her family cut their connection completely with her. She was their daughter but now she belongs to them. I remember one scene when Mr. Mehra said that Ayesha belong to other family. Her parents wont even care a bit how successful she is after her marriage. She was told frequently by her mother to focus more on being a good wife. Her mother in law taunted her for not being a typical daughter in law which she said should be reserve, shy and kept their opinion to herself. None of these qualities possessed by Ayesha. She was independent, fierce and dare to confront the truth. She was listed in a India Forbes’ top 10 business owner but in her own home, she was pressurized of not trying hardest in having a baby. It is a woman struggle because no matter how successful you are, this gender roles of being a good daughter and wife will always haunting you. Ayesha felt the hollowness in her life and decided to ask for a divorce but her family strongly against her decision. She doesnt love Manav and she doesnt want to let herself trapped in the unhappy marriage. What makes me angry is how both her mother and mother in law kept saying that having a children will save their marriage. According to them, having a children with Manav will make Ayesha happy which she utterly disagreed.

Farhan Akhtar as Sunny Gill.
Farhan Akhtar as Sunny Gill.

Where is Farhan Akhtar in this film? Farhan acted as Sunny in this film. He is Ayesha’s lover before her marriage. Their relationship is over because Mr. Mehra decided to send Sunny further their study oversea and married Ayesha off to Manav. As a son of Mr. Mehra’s manager, sunny couldnt do anything. Their love sparked again when Ayesha met him after a few years separated. He has a minor role compared to others but man, i do love one scene when he talked about women’s equality with Manav, Ayesha’s Husband. It showed how different their mindset are and why Ayesha love Sunny not Manav.

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This is a normal family film if you want to look it that way. I wouldnt change my opinion, that’s for sure. It is normal to see family crises but if you look deeply, you will see how zoya creatively buried this long overdue of woman’s struggle in her film. It is entertaining but at least you will gain something from it. I gave 4/5 for this film because i think Zoya and the other casts deserved it.

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Bhaag Milka Bhaag (2013) – Review

BY RUBY CHINGU

ImageWARNING: THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ROMANTIC FILMS TO MAKE YOUR STOMACH FEELS BUTTERFLY-ISH, THEN PLEASE GO WATCH SOMETHING ELSE. IF YOU ARE SEEKING TO BE MASSIVELY INSPIRED, THOUGH, THIS FILM IS JUST FOR YOU.

RATING – 9/10 (… and I cried five times.)

Directed by -Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Starring – Farhan Akhtar

Plot – The story is inspired by a memoir written by Milkha Singh, a legendary Indian athlete in the 1950s and 1960s, and his daughter. It began with Milkha as a young low-ranking soldier, whose talent for running was noticed by a senior army sports coach, who then trained him to participate in national championship. With the help of the national coach, he polished his talent with lots of hard work and practice and was eventually qualified to participate in the Olympic games. Nevertheless, after a few distractions, he realized that in order to succeed, he must be fully focused in his athletic career with full discipline and avoid any romances coming his way.

On 1960, the Prime Minister of India, Jawarlal Nehru requested him to run in a friendly competition with Pakistan for diplomacy purposes. Haunted still by the memories of his childhood where his Sikh parents were killed by Muslims during the partition of India, he refused. He later agreed and visited his family’s hometown in Pakistan and tried to confront the bitter memories of his past. He won the friendly match against Pakistan and was nicknamed the Flying Sikh by then-Pakistan’s head of state, General Ayub Khan.

Review – What more is there to comment about a film that made me cry five times? That it’s good? No, that, my darling, is an understatement. First of all, I would like to comment on the storyline. It began during the adult years of Milkha in the army and slowly, as he tried to build his athletic career, the film goes back to the scenes of his childhood and adolescent years. The technique used kept us glued to the story. We were curious about the depth of Milkha’s resentment against competing in Pakistan.

ImageEven though he was born of humble background, the character, Milkha, in this film is shown to be a highly dedicated man once he knew what to do with his life. As a child, he was doted by his family who lived in a village that was located in Pakistan. After the partition, his father refused to leave for the love of his land. Milkha was there when it happened and ran to hide as instructed by his father. The image of murderers on horseback, wielding swords towards his village people would come to him occasionally, reminding him of his bloody past. He, then, barely twelve years old, escaped to India and lived with his elder sister. In order to earn money, he worked as a robber. He had a romantic fling during this period of his life but it ended with the girl married off to someone else. Nevertheless, he joined the army at first as a motivation to improve himself as a person for the girl’s sake. Even though the love affair ended badly, at least it led him to discover his true calling in life – running.

The main competition that Milkha had, as shown in this film, are not the other athletes BUT himself. As a sportsman, he could not care much about his competitors in the stadium. Instead, he was very critical of himself. When he failed to get any place during the 1956 Olympics, he slapped himself in the mirror repeatedly in self-blaming. In a way, Milkha is his own great enemy. Which is actually true. In competing with ourselves, we would also try to eradicate our bad qualities – laziness, lack of commitment, easily distracted etc etc. Instead of thinking of beating someone else, Milkha went to his coach and asked – “what’s the current record for 400 metres?” He, then, trained his ass off and attempted to beat that record. It is sportsmanship in its best portrayal.

ImageThe MAJOR element of the film, for me, is the aftermath effect of the Partition of India 1947. After the country was separated and the nation of Pakistan was created, more than two million people died due to many reasons – desperate circumstances, violent religious clashes and lack of survival needs.

ImageBeing killed by another human being for completely irrational reasons is the worst tragedy that could occur. Milkha’s village was slaughtered simply because they refused to convert to Muslims after the partition. Milkha was basically alone in this world, only a child when this happened. In a blink of an eye, his childhood was marred with blood, rage, violence and grief and the emotions stayed with him his whole life.

However, to see him not letting the emotions affect his performance, it is very inspiring. Instead of making excuses, he chose to move on and live for a worthy future than clutching towards the past. Not everyone can do such a thing – only a very determined person such capability.

I also enjoyed the music of the film very much. Like most Indian films, there are a lot of fusions between classical and modern music. The songs can be particularly inspiring and heartfelt. Some of them centred around the characterization of Milkha himself and accompanied his journey to conquer his weaknesses.

Farhan Akhtar as Milkha is superb! As I was watching the film, it did not cross my mind that the actor whose performance I’m watching is actually a renowned director/writer of films that focused mainly on the urban youth genre. The first time I read that Farhan played the character, I was shocked. I mean…. like seriously? Like… the director of Dil Chahta Hai and Don is the main actor in this film?? That did not sound right. However, God, what happened yaar – put on the turban and grow some sideburns, Farhan completely transforms himself into a Sikh lad named Milkha Singh. He is a wayyyyy better than I thought he is! Suddenly, I felt so guilty for being suspicious of him in the first place.

The moral of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is to overcome your past, live life with discipline, honour and dignity and strive for the best, never to give up on yourself. It tells a tale of a man with dedication and hard work. Now, that is somebody we can learn from no matter who or where we are.