Dil Dhadakne Do (DDD) has many flaws – Zoya Akhtar is no Rajkumar Hirani (Munnabhai series, 3 Idiots, PK) when it comes to narrating stories about social problems. Her movie’s characters cannot shout out loud like what Paresh Rawal’s character did in Oh My God. Nevertheless, Zoya has her own style of making you wonder about our problematic patriarchal culture and superfluous obsession with social status.
The story revolves around four key characters. Anil Kapoor plays the Father Mehra, a self-made billionaire who expects his son to lead his business, but he does not want his son to think whom he wants to spend life with. Shefali Shah plays the Mother Mehra, an insecure wife who is aware of her husband’s philandering ways; yet, chooses not to protest because she has no confidence that she can have the same social status without her husband. Her blind preference for her son; and not able to empathize with her daughter is the highlight of the movie. Priyanka Chopra plays the Daughter Mehra, a successful self-made entrepreneur but she is a silent victim of the regressive patriarchal upper class culture that she is part of. Silenced by her parents and her husband every time she expresses her discontentment, she is an extremely unhappy woman in the movie. Ranveer Singh plays the Son Mehra, a confused young man, who does not have the business acumen like that of his father’s and his sister’s; yet, he is expected to lead a multi-million company because he is the ‘son’ of the household.
Wearing designer clothes, carrying high-priced bags and sipping expensive wines, these rich people incessantly gossip about others; plan marriages without asking their children just for the profits in their business; perceive ‘allowing’ women to ‘work’ is a big deal; and are regressive when it comes to women. When Priyanka Chopra shares her pain about being in a loveless marriage, the mother reminds her that she should give up her lucrative career and focus on making her husband happy. It did not matter to these parents that the husband, who is superficially modern but belying a typical patriarchal mindset, has no respect for their daughter. Priyanka’s silence showcases the frustration of those women who are never supported by their own family to come out of painful marriages because they are too worried about the society.
Some viewers questioned how rich people could be so regressive. I would like to remind the readers that female infanticide in India actually started in upper class families in Delhi and Harayana some decades ago. In addition, we all have met those aunties who have no work but to gossip about their own ‘so-called’ friends behind their back; those women who are compelled to stay in a bad marriage because they are reminded to compromise; and those individuals who are not able to follow their dreams because of the parental pressure on how they should lead their lives. Through Priyanka Chopra’s character, Zoya highlights no matter how successful you are as a woman, the society still thinks your job as a woman is to ‘marry the guy your parents approve’, ‘produce babies’ and ‘keep your husband happy’. So persistent these gender norms are that many women (here, the Mother Mehra) actually think they can do nothing without their husbands and allow husbands to get away with all their mistakes. Even though the movie has the most bizarre (and incomplete) ending; it does make you think that no matter how modern we think we are, we are still entangled in our deep-rooted patriarchal, superficial and shallow culture.
That’s all Dil Dhadakne Do is about.
Though I so wished Zoya had a courage to end the movie with Priyanka’s character taking over the Mehra Empire. Unfortunately, just like Mehra family, Zoya too thought it made more sense to give more importance to a son’s character than a daughter’s to end the movie..!!
That is where Bollywood fails…!!