There's dude in an Afro hairdo, and a dehati with oily hair. Afro and Oil can never jell well….But hell, the twain do meet in writer-director Manish Tiwari's maiden venture…or do I mean maidaan venture, considering the two young protagonists are constantly playing the field.
Afro has a roving eye. Oily wants to be a student leader. And we want to know why Tiwari with all his creative and other natural resources (authentic locales, in-sync music and credible players) couldn't come up with a film that compares favourably with other films about coming of age….and rage.
Tigmanshu Dhulia's power-driven film Haasil on campus politics and even Goldie Behl's Bas Itna Sa Khwab Hai, not to mention Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai seem to be the reference points about youth gone astray in a film that seems to lose it's a path in delivering a homily or two on the direction-less generation.
Delhi University and its vicinity are a hotbed of hyper-activities. The campus and other Delhi locales are sought out by the camera with a selfcongratulatory flourish. Not once do we get the feeling that this film knows its mind any more than the youngsters whom it tries to take into its grasp. But jeez, the grasp proves a little to cumbersome for the first-time director.
Manish Tiwari's portrayal of love and politics on the campus ends up being wheezier than wondrous, more queasy than easy in its storytelling. Maybe the narrative was being true to character. Both Imaad Shah and Shreyas Talpade portray confused characters with lathered gusto.
Imaad is Naseeruddin Shah's son. No one can call him a chip of the old block…not yet. But he does have a certain psychedelic charm which unfortunately gets drowned this week by this week's other debutant Neil Mukesh Mathur's rock-steady performance.
There are no hard places in the jaggedly designed plot for the characters to hold on to. Neither the director nor do we come to grips with the uncertainties of the characters. The ladies don't help. Smriti (long time no see) Mishra makes a gritty but stereotypical prostitute. Nikita Anand is one of those second-rank models you've probably run into during Fashion Week in Delhi. Isshitta Sharma (seen last month in Loins Of Punjab Presents) has a sunny presence. Can't say she makes a good pair with Imaad. This isn’t a film where characters seem to want to forge lasting bondings.
Dil Dosti Etc is more about the 'etc' than the dil and dosti promised in the title. Trivia rules. But dude, where's the main event?