Mayank Shekhar's Review: Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji

By Hindustan Times

Dil toh… Bleh! Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji Director: Madhur Bhandarkar Actors: Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi Rating: *1/2

Three things unite Indians, argues the hero's boss, repeatedly: films, cricket, and weddings.

Most other occupations of the unengaged mind, it appears, Madhur Bhandarkar has made 'inspiringly' titled movies on already: Jail, Fashion, Chandni Bar (dancing women), Satta (politics), Corporate…!

It's a larger comment on the film industry, less a critique of the filmmaker himself, that a director as aesthetically challenged should be anointed an auteur in our cinema. Bhandarkar is an acknowledged "realistic filmmaker". He writes so himself (making a cameo in one of his films, Fashion). Anyway. This is his first supposed comedy.

The said hero, the boss speaks to, is a character from Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots, Chatur (Omi Vidya). Chatur plays one Milind Kelkar, a Marathi manoos with four years' experience of London. It's hard to figure why he still retains the Uganda born Tamil Ramalingam's American twang from his last film. Never mind. He's a "varjan", sworn against sex before marriage; head over heels over a radio jockey (Shraddha Das, quite sorted) he could donate his life's savings to.

His polar opposite is of course the incredible monkey god of the ultimate urban male fantasy: Emraan Hashmi (phenomenal swagger). He brings hope to the Indian man with every film. As he does with this one. He picks up a woman every night from the club. In return, they pick up his tab at various shopping malls. His life is centred on three Fs: fun, flirting, the third being obvious, says the film's narrator. He's not exactly an up-market gigolo. It's his hobby, this ladkibaazi (skirt chasing), as the film calls it. His current tight squeeze (Tisca Chopra) is a socialite, married to old money; into 'young boys' like him.

Their labour of lust proves again that some filmmakers can make one movie to suffice an entire career. Bhandarkar filmed the smartly scripted Page 3 in 2005. He's been somewhat remaking his breakthrough film ever since. We're led yet again towards a notoriously pansy homosexual man. A mere touch of another man can send shivers up his fingers. "Being gay is in," he promises.

Photographers still chase the air-kissing, fraud chatterati that comprise "trophy wives", known for their fondness for "toy-boys", with young stepchildren who can't stand their ugly guts. Page 3 peeps make fleeting appearances as themselves (Ana Singh, Prahlad Kakad etc).

Discotheque is where the beautiful young dance in synchronised steps while a singer croons from the stage. One of the heroines is also a struggling actor who must network with old, sleazy looking producers from the south at these posh, pretty venues of the night. The usual outside-inside suburban view of the vacuous, decadent rich is complete.

Ajay Devgn (the actor currently at the top of his form) has been had again. His is the only story that makes sense. His marriage, like an overused "chewing gum, has gone pale, stale; you can't swallow it, neither can you throw it away". He's in for a divorce. In the meantime he falls for a girl at work, who's 17 years younger. The premise (roughly of Basu Chatterjee's Shaukeen, and of so many other films) is amusing. The makers still struggle to take the idea forward. How many songs and parties can you possibly throw in.

I guess, you're only as old as the woman you hold! But this doesn't really prove true for this ageing banker with a kid. He can't quite loosen up in the company of the youth he calls the "bubble gum generation". These wannabe, dull, nut-jobs ride bikes, love "karokee", discuss losing their "v" (for virginity, I presume) over the phone, spend most of their time practicing dance steps at huge nightclubs… One of them calls out, "hey nigga" to his own girlfriend (What?). These offensive bozos will oddly baffle anyone. Because they don't exist. You can't blame Devgn's Mr Ahuja. Anyhooo…

The mid-aged man rooms in with Chatur and the charlatan (Hashmi). They make for seriously geriatric frat boys. The chemistry between the three is never quite established. They could be in three separate films. Somewhere along the way the mirth gets mixed with grim, larger messages on loneliness, love, life...

Huff. This could've been a pure romp, sex comedy. It's mysteriously rated A by the censor board. The stuff seems neither deliciously bad for its inspired lunacy, nor delightfully good for its sensible humour. The indifference truly annoys you by the end of it. Well, that sucks.

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