Film Review: Dil Bole Hadippa!

Dil Bole Hadippa!

Directed by: Anurag Singh

Starring: Rani Mukherjee, Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Dalip Tahil, Poonam Dhillon, Rakhi Sawant and Sherlyn Chopra

OK, so from the off, I am going to confess something: I am not really a Rani Mukherjee fan. Yes, she has had some good performances in the past but by and large, I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch a Rani film – even in a film like Black (possibly Rani’s career best), I was more interested in Amitabh Bachchan’s performance and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s direction.

So what of Dil Bole Hadippa! (aka DBH)? A film mainly about cricket, there were no surprises story wise here – the simple story of a girl who is talented at cricket and wants to play for her town but cannot as she is a woman so she dresses up as a man and makes the first team, with various consequences…

This film really is a Yash Raj smoothie. Add Chak De India and Bunty Aur Babli in a blender, add a dash of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and DDLJ with a sprinkling of references to various 90’s hits, and lashings of Punjab and blend together for 120 minutes or so and you have DBH.

I was more disappointed than anything by the treatment of the film, which was clearly inspired by She’s The Man (which in turn was based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) and how it failed to realize its premise. The idea of women being held back by sexism was explored far more eloquently in Chak De India whilst the rest of the story muddles between estranged families, Indo-Pak relations and the relation between cricket and religion.

However, DBH is not totally unwatchable. Technically, the film is the high standard one would expect from Yashraj, with the sporting sequences crisply edited and sharply directed, and feeling very real. Similarly, Punjab looks lush and welcoming with the rich cinematography and the camera using some experimental angles, which helps the film rather than hinders it.

Performance wise, Rani is hit and miss. As Vera, she sleepwalks through the role, a part she has played many times and offers no new interpretation for in DBH. But as Veer, Rani sometimes hits the right notes and steps out of her comfort zone and this is where she shows promise. But these moments appear more by accident than design and Rani herself seems to retreat back into safe mode when she tries anything different.

Thank god then for Shahid, who is very watchable and gives a solid performance throughout. With a character that has more than a few shades of Shah Rukh’s Kabir Khan in Chak De India, Shahid manages to make the character his own, and proves a solid core for the film to work around. Rakhi Sawant and Sherlyn Chopra fail to impress with the former unable to give any expression due to heavy Botox and the latter suffering from a severe phobia of clothing, wandering around in bras, hot pants and little else. Anupam Kher and Dalip Tahil also sleepwalk through their roles and Poonam Dhillon seems to be on a daytrip in her cameo, with hardly anything to do.

All in all, DBH is entertaining and has a cracking soundtrack but a film that will really depend on your opinion of Rani Mukherjee. If you are a fan, then you will love this film and be glad to see her back. If not, you may not be shouting haddipa at the end of the film and may wish to wait for this one on DVD…

(Previously posted on www.gorafied.com on 18th September 2009)

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