Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 5, 2008

Marry go round

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:21 pm

December 05, 2008

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Rahul Bose, Konkona Sensharma, Rahul Khanna

Director: Anil Senior

Like Woody Allen’s sharp ensemble piece Husbands And Wives — of which it is a shameless, shameless copy — Dil Kabaddi is a biting satire on marriage and fidelity. Propelled by its characters and the shifting dynamics of their relationships, the film abandons the conventional three-act structure in favor of a more fluid narrative.

Irrfan Khan and Soha Ali Khan play a couple that has decided to amicably separate after two years of marriage. This news comes as a shock to their seemingly happily married best friends, played by Rahul Bose and Konkona Sensharma, who, encouraged by their friends’ separation, decide to pursue their own individual desires.

Whacking not just the premise, but practically every plot point and every scene from the original film, Dil Kabaddi follows each of the four characters as they head out to seek happiness. Irrfan literally jumps into a sexually liberating affair with a dim-witted aerobics instructor, played by Payal Rohatgi. Rahul Bose finds himself attracted to a young student who has a thing for older men. And Konkona is drawn to a colleague at work, played by Rahul Khanna, who she hooks up Soha with.

Much of the film is enjoyable thanks to witty dialogue, and also because of the film’s sometimes candid, sometimes comic take on sex. The characters indulge in such cheeky talk it’s hard not to be amused. But credit for all of this must go to the original source material – Woody Allen’s film – which serves as a blueprint that the makers of Dil Kabaddi faithfully follow.

Of the cast, Konkona Sensharma stands out as the passive-aggressive manipulator who goes after what she wants and makes sure she gets it. It’s a careful, measured performance that is rich in detail. Rahul Bose can’t quite pull off the bumbling, stuttering Woody Allen-esque character, but makes a sincere attempt nonetheless. Soha Ali Khan struggles to find the right note with which to play her uptight character, but grates with a performance that is mostly inconsistent. Springing a pleasant surprise on us is Rahul Khanna who leaves a lasting impression as the charming and vulnerable guy who always seems to get his heart broken.

But Dil Kabaddi really belongs to Irrfan Khan who delivers a winning performance as the 40-year-old ‘born-again-virgin’ who’s desperate to spice up his virtually non-existent sex life with his wife. He tackles even tricky scenes with such earnestness that it’s hard to keep a straight face to his often lewd behavior. Watch him in that scene in a lingerie store where he offends a salesgirl because of his tactless approach – he’s hilarious. Or the other scene in which he confesses he had a hearty laugh watching a regular Bollywood potboiler, something his arty-farty wife would never have allowed him to do. Irrfan’s is a crowd-pleasing performance, but it’s also one that is deep and layered if you look close enough.

Dil Kabaddi might have been an instant entertainer had director Anil Senior exercised a tighter grip on the screenplay, but because much of the film’s second act seems to go around in circles, the film is enjoyable but only in parts.

I’m going with two out of five for director Anil Senior’s Dil Kabaddi; it’s a film with some wonderfully light moments that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. And for that, we have Woody Allen to thank.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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