By Twinkle Ghosh
To be fair, Sushant Singh Rajput’s Dil Bechara is the much-needed balm to the grief we all experienced last month. In the film, there is only melancholy. Not because it is poignant cinema but because it is Rajput’s last.
Based on the American novel ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green, which was made into a Hollywood film, this version marks the directorial debut of casting director Mukesh Chhabra. It revolves around two 20-something cancer survivors, Kizie Basu and Manny, who fall in love and struggle to cope with the burden that their days on Earth – and therefore, their days together – are numbered. So, rather than their common affliction of suffering from cancer, it is their collective awareness of life’s transience that brings them closer.
Rajput plays Immanuel Rajkumar Junior aka Manny, a rich kid in Jamshedpur, who is a diehard Rajinikanth fan. He is popular, he keeps flunking college and he has lost a leg to cancer. His over-the-top carefree nature is a quick contrast to the perpetually sombre mood of his college mate Kizie Basu (Sanjana Sanghi), who having spent years battling a form of lung cancer is left weak, with an oxygen cylinder as her constant companion.
Manny is also an overtly frisky character who does ridiculous things that we are expected to find sexy – such as throwing eggs at the house of a girl who spurned his best friend and screaming out inappropriate information at a random person’s funeral. These elements appear to have been written to drive home the idea that he is full of zeal and therefore, deserves to live long. In bits, he reminds you of a ninety-esque Shah Rukh Khan from those cringe worthy romances that would prove a hard sell in today’s day.
This film is not the most profound or beautiful piece on death that one might expect, and the lackadaisical scripting with its equally lax direction does nothing to help. Dil Bechara is a shoddily produced film. Far from building on the positives of the original, it subtracts from them with its careless rewriting, and sloppy editing.
Despite this, there are moments when you find yourself tearing up, not because of the content but because you carry the preconceived baggage of the real-life story running parallel to it. Dialogues about death coming from Manny, especially in the final scene take on a whole new meaning since Rajput is now gone.
There is genuine a lack of character motivation, but the lead pair manages a convincing feat. Rajput’s earnest efforts show through but do not compare to his performance in Sonchiriya. Sanghi too delivers as the hesitant, shy but fun Kizie. The most deserving takeaway from this otherwise average film is Saswata Chatterjee and Swastika Mukherjee, as Kizie’s protective, doting parents, giving us a realistic and refreshing depiction of Indian parents without ever going over the top.