Star-Studded Cast Out to Show ‘The Heart is Still a Child’
DIRECTOR: Madhur Bhandarkar
CAST: Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Omi Vaidya, Tisca Chopra, Shruti Hassan
RELEASE: January 28, 2011 (Republic Day Weekend)
Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar is known for diving head-first into sensitive issues with his films. Even more, he is not one to highlight women in meaty leading roles, such as Bipasha Basu in Corporate or Priyanka Chopra in Fashion--both films targeting strong thematic elements in hot topics of general daily fodder both inside and out of India. Mr. Bhandarkar takes quite the interesting shift with his latest film, the romantic comedy that is Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. Starring Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Om Vaidya, Shruti Hassan, and Tisca Chopra, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (which means ‘The Heart Is Still A Child’) is a story of three friends each in search of their love stories.
It seems, nowadays, that many Bollywood films are catering to niche audiences, and Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is no exception to this opinionated observation. There are many who still have a hard time taking Bhandarkar’s films seriously, especially considering his usual inclination to slant his work toward substantive, more meaty issues that result in his productions regularly being nominated for Best Film at the glamorous Filmfare, Star Screen, and IIFA awards.
In Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, it is easy to perceive Bhandarkar as taking a step back, and some critics claim the film is “juvenile” or “childish.” Then again, when looking at the film’s title or tagline (“Love Grows … Men Don’t”), what would one expect--a production geared toward conservatively mature audiences?
Quite the contrary, Bhandarkar does a rather stellar job in driving the very accurate point home; there is indeed a very real perception/reality of a man’s mental growth stunting at some point before the age of 13. To make such a point, whether perceived or real among the masses, the central discussion of his film means one result will inevitably occur--Bhandarkar must incorporate heavily thematic elements of “juvenile behavior” in order to demonstrate the existence of said behavior.
In fact, how better to prove the tagline “Love Grows … Men Don’t” than by, pardon me for stating, pointing out the obvious? Imagine watching a science-fiction movie and stating it was too scary because there were too many aliens, or watching a gore-porn film and criticizing it for causing one to be overly squeamish due to its scenes of excessive blood use.
Similarly, a romantic comedy poking fun at the mental development of men in the department of love is ideally told in one fashion--blatantly show how juvenile men can be on many occasions, especially when it comes to women and love.
After all, despite what some critics on both sides of the fence have said about Bhandarkar’s association with this film, Dil Toh Baccha Kai Ji really is not departed from the director’s usual style. Sure, Bhardhakar dabbled with the romantic comedy genre for the first time in his career, yet he has not departed from making pointed and keen observations of a societal issue universal enough for the masses to have an opinionated or spirited discussion.
Such is the case here, as Bhardarkar’s comedy is just as much a film meant to tickle the funny bone of his audience as it is also meant to put up a mirror to what he thinks is an accurate reflection of society. In this case, for those who make the claim that Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is “juvenile” or “childish,” Bhandarkar probably is saying the same thing except in the context of the perpetual story of man, woman, and love.
The film itself features a simple story: a divorced man is falling for his young secretary, a playboy finally meets his true love, and a star-gazed chap salivates over an up-and-coming actress. Each story develops with insightful looks about how men, in general, think about the women they come across and how they chase the ones they hope to call their own one day.
While the comedy may be difficult for many to comprehend--perhaps the real reason many have criticized it--the acting performances are noteworthy. Mr. Devgn demonstrates his range and his chameleon-like acting skills, while Mr. Hashmi lives up to his real-life moniker of “The Serial Kisser” as the skirt-chasing playboy. Meanwhile, Mr. Vaidya manages to make significant strides as quite the budding Bollywood actor despite his NRI roots, which serves him well, as the love his character seeks also is rather sincere and heartfelt in his pursuit of a budding actress.
Ultimately, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is a heartfelt film with character which has some rather accurate perspectives on the everyday person, which actually should make it much more relatable to the general audience than most would admit or realize.
Anyone trekking to see Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji this Republic Day weekend, or any other weekend, should not walk into the multiplex or theater expecting a heavy-handed, overly preachy film. Instead, pay attention to the film’s feel-good persona and subtle humor. If you do just that, you will be sure to enjoy the film much more.