MUMBAI — First things first: in Indian politics, there is something called a “sympathy vote.” Thankfully, that does not translate into Indian cinema. Sushant Singh Rajput’s passing might at the most gain the film (in its global digital release), passing and possibly many extra eyeballs, but they will be more from his ardent fans rather than from sympathetically-inclined viewers.
Being a global release, it will also enamor fans of A.R. Rahman, but the music he has made, without beating the bush, is pathetic to the extreme.
A doctor has propounded the theory on his social media that the film’s script and role must have been the final straw that broke Rajput. Given the abysmal quality of the film (which I believe must be the polar opposite of “The Fault in our Stars” given that film’s positive reception, and even considering the different prime audience), he must have sensed its (non-)future and dismal fate, and he had nothing else to bank on after “Drive” went on Netflix after it was not deemed fit to be brought for the big screen.
Oh, I did not tell you that I did try watching that film but could not go at all beyond 10 minutes. But this is a review of “Dil Bechara.” Thankfully, I could tolerate this one. Just about.
Coming to Rajput’s performance as Immanuel Rajkumar Junior, it is sincere, but not extraordinary. He, in fact, repeats a lot from earlier films of his. Which were under better directors, we need hardly add.
The rest of the cast is little-known or unknown. Debutant actress Sanjana Sanghi as Kizie Basu should not have even considered the option of a female lead on the big screen (where this film was supposed to go). She cuts a sorry figure in overall appeal, and acts just passably. From the supporting cast, Sahil Vaid as their friend JP and Saswat Mukherjee as Kizie’s father act quite well.
Chhabra’s direction should actually be called “directionless” because that’s where the film heads. Terminally-ill patients (yes, here, unlike in “Anand” and “Mili,” the lead pair both have cancer) Manzi and Kizie stumble (not literally) into each other and became friends. They even shoot a film made by friends and actually fall for each other without openly declaring it. The setting is Jamshedpur, though Kizie is a Bengali and Manzi a South Indian Christian.
Weird, bizarre and purposeless and, above all, episodic sequences dot the 1.41 hours-long screenplay. The two visit a junkyard, Manzi slinks into Kizie’s house at will, she has a medical crisis during which she refuses to meet him though he remains waiting outside in the hospital, Kizie’s mother is pathologically averse to Manzi, there is a conversation on preserving Kizie’s virginity, and above all, a visit to Paris to meet an Indian singer who has created a purposeless song “I Am Yours” that he has left incomplete.
It is Kizie’s ambition to find out why this man, who has gone off the radar, has done this, and Manzi makes it his life mission to trace the man.
That the singer turns out to the worst kind of obnoxious and selfish creep there can be is said to be a lesson in how good artistes can be lousy people. Oh, well…didn’t we know that from quite a few examples in showbiz? We will not mention them, of course. Cinema’s state secrets, you see.
All we can say at the end is that good casting directors too can make lousy film directors. And every viewer ends up as the “Bechara” (Helpless), especially the critic who cannot use his remote to change channels because he has to write a review.
Produced by: Fox Star Studios
Directed by: Mukesh Chhabra
Written by: John Green, Shashank Khaitan & Suprotim Sengupta
Music: A.R. Rahman
Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjana Sanghi, Sp. App.: Saif Ali Khan, Sahil Vaid, Saswata Chatterjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Subbalakshmi, Sunit Tandon,Michael Muttu, Rajie Vijay Sarathy & others