Dil Bole Hadippa! – Dir: Anurag Singh; *ing: Rani Mukherjee, Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Rakhi Sawant, Sherlyn Chopra
A young woman disguises herself as a man in order to infiltrate and thereby challenge a traditionally masculine domain which women are thought too feeble to be allowed to enter, providing the background text for a treatise on issues of gender stereotypes, post-modern feminism, and sexual identities.
Oh hang on a minute, this isn’t a review of Yentl, is it? Well, in that case scratch the opening paragraph because Dil Bole Hadippa! isn’t concerned with all that hooey at all. Matter of fact, the problem is one is not quite sure WHAT said movie is concerned with other than supplying a painfully ‘colourful’ backdrop for its bunch of clichéd plot points to be played out against – with the term ‘plot’ applied in the roomiest of senses. For a film that is on one level supposedly about gender identity, it is, somewhat ironically, completely lacking an identity of its own. It is an oatmeal porridge of a movie – so utterly bland that it is too much of an effort to even dislike it properly, all you can do is shake your head in bewilderment at the non-necessity of its very existence. Hey Yashraj, what the barnacles is up with this big ol’ bowl of nothingness?
One is sure that on paper the premise must have seemed more than workable: Veera Kaur (Mukherjee) is the best batsman in the land but won’t be allowed on the local cricket team because, well, she isn’t the right shape, so to speak. So she does what any ultra-feminine, hour-glass-shaped Punjabi lass would do: borrows Spongebob’s square pants and slaps on a fake scraggly ‘stache-n-beard job, and hey presto! She’s now good to go as Veer Pa-ji, and nary a soul even suspects any fowl play, despite the obviously bumpy physique, the distinctly pre-pubescent voice pitch, and the fact that the ‘boy’ never seems to feel the urge to scratch himself in public. To complicate matters though, the team captain, ‘foreign-returned’ Rohan (Kapoor) falls in love with him, er… her – whatever. Then there is a Pakistan-India cricket diplomacy angle which doesn’t really go anywhere because, again, the film can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be about Pak-Hind dosti, or cricket, or equal opportunity in the world of sports, or boy/girl-as-boy shenanigans, or Sherlyn Chopra’s enviable mid-riff that saunters into the film and is then ushered out quite unceremoniously into oblivion, never to be heard from again.
In fact Chopra’s ephemeral belly button actually captures the tone of the whole film – things are introduced with a bang-and-a-half only to peter out with a pitiful whimper. The romance barely registers, the sport scenes are filmed in Dullsville, and the narrative possibilities of the stranger-in-a-strange-land premise are never explored beyond the usual, clichéd bathroom joke. As a result, the quasi-feminist speech that Veera makes at the end feels half-baked, with a severe case of too-little-too-late to boot.
One feels sorry for the actors. The undeniably talented Rani Mukherjee can play this caliber of role in her sleep, and indeed seems to be doing so here, so somnambulant is the script. In fact, considering that Bollywood fare doesn’t often lay much emphasis, either way, on scripts, it is impressive (in a bad, bad way) that DPH’s biggest offence can be singled out to be lazy scripting, with a put-together-with-spit narrative, and dialogue so un-fresh it needs to be banished to a landfill along with other non-recyclable waste.
Dil bole yawn…