Cast: Irrfan Khan, Rahul Bose, Soha Ali Khan, Gorgeous Bed Spreads
Direction: Anil Senior (!!)
Now, now. Whose dil are they talking about here? Answer: Woody Allen’s because this dil flick is a straight cog of his 1996 movie
Husbands and Wives
who incidentally, neither played kabaddi nor ate malai and rabaddi. See
No acknowledgement, no rights acquired, no nothing. Evidently, director Anil Senior (I kid you not) believes that there’s little or no difference in the attitudes, lifestyles and sexual mores of the dwellers of Navi York or New Mumbai. Manhattan or Mira Road, what’s the diff?
Plenty actually but go on, chill. Instead meet a buncha Bombay yuppies who’re excessively moody, are crazy about Chinese foody and even remind you of Jade Goody. Meaning they quarrel, say sorry, quarrel, then say sorry-sorry. Okay, so where’s the story? As it turns out, there are more platitudes than plot here. Talking heads go buk buk buk the way they would in a great big TV debate. And hello, frequently the heads yawn and yawn into the camera as if they were participating in the Indian Idle show. Woe ho ho.
Now you’re stuck in the company of a girl-woman (Soha Ali Khan) who nags-nags-nags-nags her husband (Irrfan Khan, overacting) till he looks at her as if she were a Naagin. Hissss. So, he strays over to a ditzy aerobics instructress (Payal Rohatgi) whose permanent wide grin reminds you of the Howrah Bridge. And whoa, she even goes “duh-duh-duh” like a female Bigg Moose. Moreover, Husband and Aerobics even break into the Worst Item Number in the history of Indian cinema. Irrfan Khan isn’t ever likely to become a Shiamak Davar surely.
At a paper plane’s throw away, the best buddies of Naagin and Husband are so upset that they question their own marriage. Assistant magazine editor (Konkona Sen-Sharma, getting a bit boring now) pauses in between changing lovely bedspreads while her husband, a cinema professor (Rahul Bose), turns into an instant Humbert-Humbert leching at a Lolita student (Saba). How Nishabd is that! Baba Bose as Boss Bachchan? Never mind. Professor Nishabd et al talk about the politics of sex now. In fact, that’s the only aspect of this Hollywood re-tread that is amusing to a certain extent.
The relationship between Nishabd and Lolita is quite a refreshing change from the earlier spins on the subject. They kiss, even longer than Sherawat-Hashmi ever did. However, the script keeps meandering away to other sketchily written characters like the ghazal-loving editor who behaves like a lovelorn puppy (Rahul Khanna, heaven help) and a bold bozo (Anonymous) who keeps making such fiery speechlets that his head almost goes up in smoke. Choke.
Perhaps, if director Senior (I kid you not) had researched a group of city professionals, their anxieties, aspirations and sexual polemics, the kabaddi would have been more to-the-point and relevant. Senior, for sure, is a slick craftsman, aided throughout by Anay Goswamy’s extraordinary cinematography. The locations and home interiors are also very hip and trendy.
Of the cast, newcomer Saba is a find; she acts without any artifice. Soha Ali Khan gives her role credible shades even when the script doesn’t. Rahul Bose is bankably inspired. That adds up to Dil Kabaddi which leaves you worried sick. What if Woody Allen ever saw it? He’d throw a flaming fit..and worse.