Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) was released when I was preparing for the Civil Services Main Examination in Jaipur and was very much eager to watch it when my papers would be over. I finished with my papers on 8th December, 1997 and went to watch this movie in Raj Mandir (the world-famous theatre of Jaipur) the next day, i.e., 9th December, 1997 with my wife, my little daughter and my friend – Nitin Sharma. The melodious music of the movie had fascinated me and the movie was already a huge success on the box office. Hence I went to the cinema-hall with an expectation to watch a good romantic movie and my expectation came true. I found this movie to be really good.However, later when I read many reviews of this movie, I was shocked that several reviewers had criticized it. Why ? It’s a good love story. The box office verdict was in its favour. Its music was of such a high quality that still its songs are heard, sung and liked. The performances were good and Karishma Kapoor went on to win the national award for the best supporting actress for her role in this movie. Then why the reviewers could not praise this movie from the maestro of making romantic movies – Yash Chopra ?
Well, I can find the reason behind the criticism of this movie out from a more than two decades old interview of an international female Tennis player – Mary Joe Fernandez. I had read her interview in 1990 in which she had asserted – ‘When you are habituated to excel, just being good never satisfies.’ I apply her quote for the director of this movie – Yash Chopra who had directed several admirable movies in the past and built a reputation for himself as a maker of high quality cinema. Hence, the viewers of Dil To Paagal Hai compared this movie with his previous better works and the dissatisfaction that had emerged out of the high expectations from this movie, led to its criticism.Dil To Paagal Hai (the heart is insane) is a love-triangle of a theatre-group leader – Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), his co-worker and friend – Nisha (Karishma Kapoor) and Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) who is an orphan fostered by a benevolent family and who happens to join his group just for the sake of one play in which Nisha could not partake due to her leg injury. The son of her fostering couple – Ajay (Akshay Kumar) loves Pooja and proposes to her and Pooja being burdened by the obligations of her guardians, agrees to marry their son. But there is one thing peculiar about her. She firmly believes that pairs are made in heaven, God has fixed the matches of the males and the females of this world even before their taking birth and now it’s up to them to locate their matches and get united with them. The foundation of this general belief of hers leads to a specific dream for herself in which she sees her prince-charming approaching her like a fairytale and taking her away with him. How her belief comes true after several twists in this sentimental (and musical) love-triangle is the climax.This movie was also criticized for the superstitions like male-female pairs being made in heaven, a girl’s meeting her dream-boy on the full-moon night falling on the Valentine’s Day, Lord Ganpati helping the love-birds in expressing their feelings to each other etc. Well, has there even been any dearth of superstitions being propagated and strengthened through movies in India ? Then why to criticize this movie in particular. Just because Yash Chopra directed it ? Not fair. The filmmaker has only shown how strongly Pooja believed in her dreams. And if you read the Law of Attraction as well as about the power of man’s subconscious mind spelled out by many philosophers, you have to be convinced that thoughts and beliefs actually get materialized if they are strongly founded in the concerned person’s mind. I remember a dialogue from my favourite movie – Sangharsh (1999) told by the hero (Akshay Kumar) to the heroine (Preity Zinta) – ‘Sapne Soch-Samajh Kar Dekhne Chaahiye, Sach Ho Jaate Hain‘ (it’s better to dream sensibly because those dreams may come true). Hence if a girl’s dream has come true which she sincerely believed in, what’s the big deal ?
I have picked a very big yet quite subtle positive in this movie whose mention I did not find anywhere. In a couple of scenes, the theatre and the real life have been shown as getting intermingled. And both such scenes are damn impressive – one during the rehearsal of the play (titled as Maya) and another during its actual staging which takes place in the climax. Yash Ji has presented these scenes so skillfully that the viewer can only react as – WOW ! The cinematographer (Man Mohan Singh) and the art director (Sharmishtha Roy) have left no stone unturned to make the director’s vision take a tangible shape. When you are under an impression that the characters are interacting in their real life, it turns out to be a scene of the play. Brilliant !
There are many scenes in which the emotional and drama quotient is quite high, true to Yash Ji’s reputation. One is the informal dancing competition between Pooja and Nisha in which Nisha (out of her jealousy for Pooja) tries to belittle her in front of the group members (including Rahul) watching their performance. Another illustration can be Nisha’s outburst against the Almighty and throwing stones in the direction of the sky (where He is supposed to be).
Yash Chopra has been known as the King of Romance for the past many decades and Dil To Paagal Hai is a showcase of his natural talent to make high quality romantic movies. In the opening song which runs alongwith titles, he has shown several couples (of all shapes, sizes and ages) including himself and his wife (Paamela) which provides this movie a different look since the very outset.
Music is a very big plus point of this movie. Uttam Singh has composed the music of his lifetime using the lyrics of Anand Bakshi and the voices of Lata and Udit Naarayan for most of the songs. One song has been sung by Asha Bhonsle and one duet (referred to in the previous para) has been sung by Hariharan and Lata. All the songs are ear-soothing as well as heart-soothing.
Technically the movie is simply superb with the production value being pretty high according to the repute of the banner. Dialogues and background score are also according to the mood of the movie. The narrative has intermixed romance, humour, sentiments and music optimally and it’s a treat for the audience of romantic musicals.
Performances are good. Even Akshay Kumar who was known as an action hero those days, has done very well in his surprise package type role. In addition to Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit, the supporting characters including Aruna Irani, Farida Jalaal, Deven Varma, Shivani Wazir, Balwinder Singh Suri etc. have also met the demands of their respective roles with perfection. The show stopper is Karishma Kapoor who won the national award for the best supporting actress for the role of Nisha.
I liked this movie very much. May be because I am sentimentally romantic. However, the people who criticize this movie, overlook the quality of the product presented. It may be one notch below the lofty standard set by Yash Chopra for himself but overall, it’s a nice movie with great musical appeal and immense repeat value. You may not believe in the dictum that male-female pairs are made in heaven but Pooja of Dil To Paagal Hai believes in it.
And so do I.
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