Much ado about nothing – on a ship! This is Dil Dhadakne Do – Zoya Akhtar’s drama revolving around the Mehra family recounted by their pet dog Pluto (in the voice of Aamir Khan). Most of the events unfold aboard a cruise ship on which Kamal (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shah) are celebrating their wedding anniversary along with their children, close friends and family. It’s exactly the vulgar show of expense you expect from ‘self-made’ Mehra whose business is facing bankruptcy but you have to keep up appearances in materialistic designer adorned Delhi society.
On board this cruise along the Mediterranean, as luggage is unpacked in various berths, numerous skeletons tumble out of designer bags. Daughter Ayesha Mehra’s (Priyanka Chopra) desperate need for recognition from her chauvinistic father, her revelation that she is suffering in a loveless arranged marriage to Manav (Rahul Bose), and her simmering love for childhood sweetheart Sunny (Farhan Akhtar). Ayesha’s brother Kabir (Ranveer Singh) realizes he is a pawn in his parents’ machinations and suddenly grows a spine when he falls in love with the ship’s cabaret dancer Farah (Anushka Sharma). Neelam is struggling with maintaining a staunch silence regarding her husband’s infidelities and lack of attention.
In many ways the Mehras represent those Indian middle class families that brush issues under the carpet and shy away from addressing what’s really bothering them. Kabir Mehra’s predicament rings most true as the adored son who can do little wrong, who is bribed and manipulated and has enjoyed the pampering all his life – until now.
The myriad supporting actors are just caricatures of meddlers, gossips, etc. And the climax is unconceivable. Further, the emotional gravitas, that has merely skimmed the surface, never gets deeper (and at 170 minutes running time there was plenty of time to get serious) and it ends on a rather silly note.
The dog as narrator and the ship as location are also just convenient devices. It would have been nice to see more of the ships spaces than just banquet rooms and a dance studio.
Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra steady this ship every time it wobbles, ably aided by Bose and Akhtar. There are laughs and high jinks (and a little bit of a fashion show) on the high seas but, in the end, Dil Dhadakne Do remains a watery drama.