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Dil Bechara Movie Review: Sushant Singh Rajput is a shooting star

Dil Bechara Movie Review: For someone who could perform as he did in Sonchiraiya, Dil Bechara must have been a breeze for Sushant Singh Rajput.


If you have a telescope, you can see the Perseid meteor showers in the skies from now until the August 24. If you have Disney+Hotstar, then you can watch the shooting star Sushant Singh Rajput play Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters in Dil Bechara, the official remake of the young adult romance The Fault In Our Stars.


The last time I watched Sushant Singh on the screen was when he was the gorgeous outlaw Lakhna, riding away from the baddest cops for honour. I still remember, ‘Bairi beimaan, baaghi savdhaan!’ How does he play a teenage Anand… I mean... Gus Waters, a boy who smiles through cancer? Is there a Babumoshai moment in this film? Will we all continue to choose ‘Zindagi badi honi chaahiye, lambi nahi!’ over any new dialog that has been written?

Before we look at this film, a clarification: I read the book by John Green before I watched the film The Fault In Our Stars, and if it weren’t for Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe, the Hollywood hit made me feel like I had waded through molasses and there was no water to wash the ickiness off. I guess teenage romance is a tad odd to watch when one has grown up with Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw in the movie about love doomed by illness (‘What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach? The Beatles? And me?’)


Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se was sorta based on that film and the music still plays on classic radio. Dil Bechara has AR Rahman’s music. And Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics that go from the breezy lightness of the title track ‘Dil bechara / friendzone ka mara’ to the awesomeness of ‘rishta raha, bas raet ka, e samandar main tumhara kinara raha’. After the disastrous collaboration with U2, Rahman redeems himself with these songs.

The songs fit in with this doomed story. Sanjana Sanghi plays Kizie Basu, who has to carry a mini oxygen tank with her always because her cancer has spread to her lungs. When she’s not walking about in college, she spends her time attending funerals because she wonders how life will be for her parents after she’s gone. Her negativity is broken by Manny (much older than her) who dances into her life and pursues her (nicely, of course) until she kinda, sorta agrees to be his girl.

Also Read: Sushant Singh Rajput's Dil Bechara released: Where to watch for free and other details

I know it is a young adult doomed romance thing and Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort have already done the ‘intense yet funny’ version of the book. Sushant Singh Rajput smiles knowingly through the film manages to seduce young Kizie with his ‘coolth’ as the audience you wish the beguiling had the power to get under our skins.

Dil Bechara cannot get over Shah Rukh but calls it Thalaivaa instead. Since I am a certified fan of both, the mock movie scenes put a smile on my face. What this film fails to do is touch that lachrymal gland that makes one weep. I weep copiously in movies (and when reading books), when a son leaves the family, when he reunites with them, when he misses love or friendship — you know — all those movie moments. I still cry when Eli Wallach’s Arthur explains ‘meet cute’ to Kate Winslet (in the movie The Holiday) and my heart still waits to hear Rajesh Khanna’s Anand say, ‘Babumoshai!’ This film made me bawl during the photo tribute to Sushant Singh Rajput after the film was over.

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I must say that the story has too many gaps to move smoothly. Kizie wants to go to Paris and the mother objects because she’s worried about Kizie’s condition. The mother is played quite sweetly by Swastika Mukherjee (you saw her in Pataal Lok last), and you understand why she would be worried. But the dad (Saswata Chatterjee) tries to understand why his daughter wants to undertake such a journey. All of a sudden, (and perhaps because the doctor says, ‘Only if mom accompanies her’) the mother agrees into letting the two go to Paris and even plays videographer. Exasperating such sudden gaps...And why doesn’t the dad go as well?

It’s a Bollywood film, and we’ve come to accept that colleges don’t have classes but mostly talent shows… And yet, I hoped to see a little more substance. Substance I found in the musical tribute to Sushant Singh Rajput that was released before the film. It’s on the same platform and it touched me more than the film did.

Ever since his death in June, Dil Bechara has been touted on social media strongly as the last (and the best) film of a wonderful young actor, who has gone too soon. And there have been not so subtle messages about how if you don’t like it, you would be part of the greater conspiracy to kill talent...Conspiracies theories around this fabulously-talented lad are so many I've learnt words like ‘Apophenia’ and ‘Pareidolia’ from a young YouTuber who debunked a ‘talking to ghosts’ conspiracy and more…

For someone who could perform as he did in Sonchiraiya, Dil Bechara must have been a breeze. The movie manages to capture what the song promises: Khul ke jeene ka tareeka tumhe sunate hain/ hanske dekho na lateefa tumhe sunate hain/ Umar ke saal kitne hain gin gin ke kya karna/beet jaayega ginte hee warna…

Alas the shadow of the word ‘but’ falls on everything this movie attempts to do. It falls on reviewers to gently let you know that it’s okay to not like the manipulative story of two cancer ridden kids who die. I try to tell myself that John Green’s Searching for Alaska is a better book (and a better movie) despite its obsession with last words spoken by characters. Especially a dialog from Searching for Alaska: ‘Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’’

It reminds me of this meteor called Sushant Singh who flashed upon our hearts for a while and is gone too suddenly, too soon.

Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
First Published on Jul 24, 2020 10:17 pm
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