In a yearly ritual, two friends from India and Pakistan (Anupam Kher and Dalip Tahil) meet and pit their local teams to win the `Aman Trophy’. Beaten nine years in a row, Kher’s character summons his London-based cricketer son and uses every emotional trick in the book to use his cricketing talents for a win.
Rohan (Shahid Kapoor) then does a Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De! India and straightens up the laidback team. He also decides to hold auditions for new players. Seeing this as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Veera decides to try her luck, but is shunted out. That’s when she decides to disguise herself as a man and show `em what she’s got.
Dil Bole... is reminiscent of recent Yashraj films that have almost all of the following – characters belonging to a village or small town, the story incorporating sports, strong female characters and yet promoting regressive practices like karvachauth, cheerful photography saturated with colour, and an exclamation-marked title.
Several Hollywood films have attempted gender role-reversal, the most famous being Tootsie where Dustin Hoffman disguised himself as a lady to win an acting part. But Dil Bole... is more The Associate where Whoopi Goldberg, tired of people judging her by her gender, pretends to be a man to prove her abilities as an ace stockbroker; or She’s the Man where a soccer player has to pretend to be a boy to enter the main team.
Dil Bole... relays its messages effectively but tries to fold in too many—there’s the supporting of gender equality, then of Indo-Pak relations, chest-thumping patriotism and so on. Indeed, when Veera asks why a talented player cannot represent her country owing to her gender, the point is made. You do wonder then, why the central cricket team doesn’t incorporate women players. Khiladi dekho, uska naam nahin, says Veera. One wonders if our cricket board would agree?
Veera’s story throws light on several budding sportswomen forced to squash their dreams or being forced to play in neglected women’s only teams that receive neither the recognition nor the finances.
Director Anurag Singh (Raqeeb, 2007) is presented with a dream cast and crew, most of them Yashraj regulars like cinematographer Sudeep Chatterji, editor Ritesh Soni and lyricist Jaideep Sahni. Writing by Aparajita follows the YRF formula.
And Dil Bole Hadippa! is nothing without Rani Mukherjee. Excelling in every sphere from her fab dance act as a man, or her comic timing, or convincing us of her character’s commitment to the game, Mukherjee is astounding. Add to that her new look complete with a trimmed down figure, dazzling eyes and a never-ending smile. Shahid Kapoor as the no-nonsense captain is delightful as well, and the two lead actors share a mischievous, crackling equation.
Dil Bole Hadippa! is your usual Yashraj fare – tad loud, overwhelmingly colourful, but fun all the way. Go for it.
Verdict: Three stars