Film: Dil Bechara
Director: Mukesh Chhabra
Producers: Fox Star Studios
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjana Sanghi, Saswata Chatterjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Saif Ali Khan
Streaming on: Disney Plus Hotstar
There’s a scene in the film when Sushant Singh Rajput’s Manny tells Kizie (Sanjana Sanghi), “Can we just pretend that I’m not going anywhere!” This one line plays on the mind long after the film is over. Almost as if it’s not Manny – the character, but Sushant – the actor saying: Can we just pretend that I’ve not gone anywhere!
Impossible as it may seem, it’s something we wish we could do at least for the duration of the film. Put aside all controversies and talks surrounding the late actor’s untimely death and instead of grieving about a talent gone too soon, honour his last cinematic work. Dil Bechara truly is a celebration of one of Bollywood’s finest actors – Sushant Singh Rajput – and for that alone, totally worth a watch!
So, for the ones who’re familiar with the premise of John Green’s romance novel The Fault in Our Stars (2012) on which the film is based there are a few things that’ve been tweaked from the original, but largely the film stays true to the original including the dialogues. For those who aren’t familiar, here it is: The story revolves around Kizie Basu who is fighting thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs and she only has as much time left as her immune system would allow! She is dependent on an oxygen cylinder – her Pushpinder – that she carries all around. Her only wish is to live a normal life, but like she says that even her dreams are of her Prince holding a cylinder rather than a guitar! She doesn’t fear dying, but is worried about her parent’s happiness after she’s gone.
She chances upon happy-go-lucky charmer Immanuel Rajkumar Junior aka Manny who literally dances his way into her life. He is also a part of her cancer-support group as his own cancer is in remission. He and his best friend JP (who’s lost partial eyesight due to eye cancer) are making a film to fulfil Manny’s dream of becoming a hero a la his favourite Rajinikanth. Manny persuades Kizie to act as the heroine in their Bollywood spoof ‘Rajnikant Aawat, Sapne Dikhawat’ and eventually the two fall in love.
Meanwhile, Manny decides to fulfil Kizie’s wish of meeting her favourite singer Abhimanyu Veer who strangely had quit singing and left the last song on his album incomplete. She just wants to meet him once to know why he didn’t complete it, as she feels that it would somehow help her make peace with her impending death. The only catch – the eccentric singer is now settled in Paris and it’s a trip the two want to undertake in spite of all obstacles.
Performance-wise no surprises here! The film clearly belongs to Sushant Singh Rajput, who’s a delight to watch in the film. He plunges into playing Manny and owns him brilliantly from the first frame and stays the character right till the end. His energy and cheerful disposition is infectious. The character’s swing from one extreme to the other isn’t an easy one to pull, but the actor does it with utter ease and tugs at heart-strings along the way. Sushant’s expressions are priceless whether they are flirting mischievously or in pain. He aces every scene effortlessly and the actor in him shines throughout. By the end of the movie, it’s hard to figure if the tears rolling down your cheeks are for Manny or Sushant, as the late actor works his magic on screen one last time!
Sanjana’s Kizie tries to match up to Manny! She brings the sweet innocent charm and is alluring as Kizie. Saswata Chatterjee is another actor to watch out for here. He’s endearing as Kizie’s father and exceptionally good in a scene where he breaks down in the restroom as his daughter is fighting for her life in the hospital.
In fact, one of the best scenes in the film belongs not to the romantic lead pair, but to Saswata and Sushant, when the two share a couple of beers in the rain. It’s coming together of two fantastic acting talents. In the scene, Manny reveals his vulnerable side for the first time and accepts his own frailties. A complete heart-stealer, Sushant is simply brilliant in it, as he is in the scene where he breaks down crying in his grandmother’s lap, giving in to the inevitable.
Casting Saif Ali Khan as the eccentric Abhimanyu Veer was perfect, but he wasn’t given a meaty enough part to chew on and you wish there was more of the character explored, as well as the actor. Saif on his end makes the most of his brief appearance and makes it count.
There a few tracks however, that didn’t go down as well as we hoped. Swastika is a strong performer, but struggles in a mother’s role that doesn’t evoke any empathy at all. Considering she plays a mom to a daughter who’s dying of cancer, one would expect her to be more sensitive, not the case here. As a strict over-protective mom, she fits the bill though. Also Manny’s best friend JP is uninspiring and fails to make any impact at all. The story feels rushed in a few places, while some scenes don’t fit the narrative at all. The egg-attack on an ex-girlfriend’s house could’ve been done away with completely.
On the other hand, the cinematography scores full points. The town of Jamshedpur, where the story is set is captured just as beautifully, as Paris is where the couple enjoy their quick trip. AR Rahman’s music is another high point of the film and the songs do justice to the film. Mukesh Chhabra does a fine job handling a heart-breaking emotional story of two lovers, who know there is no happily forever for them as a couple. He keeps the melodrama at bay and instead delivers a poignant film strung together by beautifully captured moments on screen. His directorial debut is a sweet and a beautiful film that’s accentuated and completely lifted by the performance of its lead star – Sushant Singh Rajput and ably supported by Sanjana Sanghi and Saswata Chatterjee. Don’t miss this heart-warming film!