Let me first say that my prayers and thoughts are with all of those who have lost loved ones in the recent terror attacks on Mumbai. It's hard to watch a movie like "Dil Se..." at a time like this and not think of the horrible reality of hate crime and terrorism. I usually don't use this blog to post on anything other than straight film reviews, but I just wanted to let everybody know that I am posting this review and an upcoming review of "1947 Earth" without any intention of offending or glazing over something which rings horribly true for those who are living it. I'm sensitive to what you are going through, and although I am fortunate myself to have never been a victim of a terrorist attack, my heart goes out to all of you.
Secondly, I want to thank publicly and warmly my blog readers and newfound friends Summer and Katy for sending me this film as a present on their recent trip to Mumbai (thankfully, they were unharmed by the attacks). Along with Dil Se... I received 1947 Earth, Deewar, GolMaal, and Chotker Bali, so reviews on these films are forthcoming. Thanks again guys!
But onto Dil Se.... I was stumped for awhile on what to say about this film. It was quite a switch from the recently watched Main Hoon Na. Folks, if you're looking for a Shahrukh movie thats not your typical sugary song and dance, then Dil Se... is for you.
I'm used to watching love stories that make me feel good, a huge fan of rom-coms and heartwarmers such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. But Dil Se... was very much opposite. Yet it appealed to a different side of my heart, the side that understands the yearning and passion of love that isn't always good for you. The side that wants something it can't have and can't understand why. The side that believes there is a thin line between love and hate.
How do I describe Dil Se...? Moving? Tragic? Disturbing? Passionate? Intoxicating? It was all of these things, really, and as a viewer I fell completely under its spell. But it was also one of those films that lingered in my mind for days after its end, bits and pieces resurfacing in my memory, the sweet and the bothersome. That's why I had a hard time putting my thoughts together for this post--I wasn't sure how a film could make me feel touched and disturbed at the very same time.
The film kicks off with Shahrukh's character, Amar, at a train station (***This isn't really a spoiler, but it will be a play by play of Shahrukh and Manisha's first meeting. I'm including it in detail only because I thought it was so effective***). Everything about this first scene is foreboding...shadowy, dark, lonely, with gusts of wind howling in the background. A dark, cloaked figure sits on the bench nearby. The whole thing reminded me of the beginning of a deliciously good ghost story.
Amar awaits his train, trying to light his cigarette in the wind. He attempts to make conversation with the cloaked man, asking him for a match, but receives no response. And then...brilliantly...the cloak whips off the man on the bench in the violent wind...and...why,its not a man at all...it's Manisha Koirala!
Instantly smitten, Amar tries to buy the woman a cup of tea. She quietly accepts, but while he's making the purchase, the woman's train arrives. Amar runs back just in time to catch only a glimpse of her face as the train departs, holding his two cups of chai in the rain.
Why go on and on about this little scene? Because its serves as a symbolic precursor for Amar's luck---as well as he and Meghna(Manisha)'s tumultuous affair.
Believe it or not, this eerie encounter is followed by the cheerful and ever so popular "Chaiya Chaiya"--the song that made train dancing famous. It's Shahrukh energy at its best, and the chereography makes it really fun to watch (or imitate, if you dare). Malaika Arora makes a cameo in this song (That is her, isn't it?) and it appears as if Amar's forgotten all about the mystery woman at the train station.
Don't worry, he hasn't. Amar's actually just begun his somewhat disturbing mission of stalking Meghna. Another angle to the film that I found bothersome at times.
He stalks her on the air at his radio station.
He stalks her when she is trying to make a personal phone call.
When she asks him to stop following her, he refuses to listen, and jumps on the back of a bus to follow her home instead.
As a matter of fact, the whole thing got pretty irritating to me, until their showdown in the desert--where I just about felt like hitting Amar myself. His violent, aggresive, male chauvinistic approach to conquering Meghna was a huge turn off for me. I say "conquering" because that's just what he was doing--attempting to win her over, with virtually no regard for her feelings or what she was saying.
Some can argue that this was how deep their passion was, and that essentially she really was in love with him as he thought. She just wouldn't admit it to herself because of her situation. That could be, but he told her she was "fast" and "a tease" just because she wasn't interested in him! I don't know, maybe I misunderstood something along the way, and I welcome anyone else's take on this, but I just didn't get this part of the story.
I did, however, soften to Amar and forgive him after this. There would have been no other way for me to continue the film had I not. I'm glad I did--the romance between him and Meghna took an interesting turn after all of this. I actually believed Amar did love her, and he proved it many times for the duration of the film. The song depicting their love affair was hot--and featured some creative chereography that shows why Farah Khan is Farah Khan. A bit choppy and rough, but it did match their attraction.
Love it or hate it, you've got to admit it's unique. And I'm sorry, but the whole red satin thingy was super cool.
The second half of the film gives us Preity Zinta in her debut role! Yay--nothing like Preity to add some much peppy punch to the situation. I loved her character instantly, and I'm glad she was included in this film. It was her character,Preeti, (yep, same name just spelled differently) whose fate I cared for most during the last parts of the film.
Also, I never noticed the age difference between Preity and Shahrukh--although I'd heard it complained about before--until this film. I thought they paired up beautifully in Veer Zaara, but she looked much younger than him here. Still, they have some great scenes (and lines---who could forget the hunka-bunka-bunk coversation?)together, and even a cool dream sequence, also nicely chereographed. Not only that, but Shahrukh proves he had a nice body before Om Shanti Om...
I can't say much more without spoiling the ending. And, trust me, you want to remain surprised here. Just know that even though the movie may have some upsetting elements, its definitely worth it. I watched this film late at night and woke up with the thoughts lingering like a "Dil Se..." hangover. It's just that kind of film... it effects you.
If you've seen the movie, I'd love to hear your thoughts! This is one that I'm sure a lot of people have different opinions about. Although I loved the film, I think I'd have to see it again to really organize my thoughts on the deeper elements. It's something I could watch again tomorrow and realize there were parts I'd missed the first time around.
In the meantime, I'll be working on my next post, also another controversial film--1947 Earth!
Text © 2008 Nida Nazir
3 days ago