Film Review: Dil, Dosti Etc


Film: Dil, Dosti Etc

Banner: Holi Cow Pictures

Producer: Prakash Jha

Director: Manish Tiwary

Star Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Nikita Anand, Imaad Shah, Smriti Mishra, Ishita Sharma, Dinesh Kumar

Rating: 2.5/5

Director Manish Tiwary’s maiden venture is perhaps the second film this year to have a stark take-it-as-you-see-and-judge-it-for-yourself tone (The first being Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Black Friday’). All the more satisfying because in the real world there are no easy answers and there is no black and white. His maiden venture ‘Dil Dosti etc.’ captures these truisms well albeit a bit amateurishly.

‘Dil Dosti Etc’ is not exactly a story but an episode in the life of the lead character played by debutante actor Imad Shah that does not necessary elevate or resolve his existential angst but incites one in the audience. The film revolves around the lives of a variety of youngsters all representative of today’s generation Y. Two of them, hostelites at a Delhi college, belong to two completely different worlds. One, Sanjay (Shreyas Talpade) is a deeply rooted Bihari and a student-politician embracing his middle-class values as his identity and the other Apurva (Imad Shah) is an upper-class Delhi-ite full of his aimlessness and lack of stolid values. Then there is Prerna, (Nikita Anand) a rich South Delhi-ite who aspires to be an international model. There is Kintu (Ishiita Sharma); a schoolgirl who though caught in her black and white world-view is already a perfect coquette. Completing this ensemble of characters and social backdrops is Vaishali, (Smriti Mishra), an almost aging prostitute fearing emotional involvement in her insecure life.

Through the actions, reactions, search, solutions, problems and choices of these characters the director weaves a world of today’s generation juxtaposing the values of time, class, culture and situations that make the youth of today. What transpires is a tale revelatory in its spirit of its effort to lay bare the essentials of Gen-Y.

The film is exploratory in nature and hence is experiential. It puts forward facts in the choices its characters make leaving us to understand why he/she did what they did. Here is a film that prods its audience to think and whether it succeeds is a question of individual appeal. It embraces realism in its treatment and does the cinematic technique no injustice. The screenplay falters at a number of points where it dilutes the flow with insignificant events or events incompletely unfolded. Nevertheless, it remains an imaginative work created with a sound knowledge of its purview.

The limitations of the film are as much in its mode of telling as in the handling of the rich variety of emotional and social milieus it inhabits. The direction is telling of a debut effort and so is the writing of the film. But it is not inept just trifle inexperienced. One of the best features it offers is a ringside view of student lives, loves and aspirations, a rarity to watch in today’s times. 

The director has managed to extract some good performances from its lead cast. Imad Shah is interesting to watch as he plays his character, guiltless, aimless and cool. Nikita Anand does a much better job here if compared to her wooden act in (the now-forgotten) Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi though she has lots to learn about actingg. Ishiita Sharma thoroughly impresses in her precocious schoolgirl-playing hard to get role. Smriti Mishra’s character lacks the supposed punch and acridity of a prostitute that would have added the necessary tanginess. We see certain stiffness and a distinct discomfort in getting under the skin of her role. Sadly, even Shreyas doesn’t quite impress. All throughout he plays the confident student leader and man of his values well but fails to sustain it in the most crucial parts. 

Cinematography is well-done and helps the film in creating the various moods of fun, debauchery, softness, camaraderie as it captures Delhi’s student life. Editing is paced but could have been smoother in easing out a couple of jerky cuts. The music especially of ‘Dum Laga’ is distinctly hummable but may not top the charts.

A good part (and some crucial dialogues) in the film are in English which alienates a large section of the audience. But since it is the student community the film will be understood by best, maybe it is as well to stick to the nitty-gritty realities of life in the fact that most students converse more comfortably in English today.

By no means a sit-up-and-take-notice film, Dil Dosti Etc., is still a watchable fare just for the excellent evocation of student life, male bonding and stark portrait of what makes up the youth of today. Don’t miss it if you have a choice.