Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is a simple story narrated simply to make it a simple, yet, funny ride. This kind of story has been attempted before and the storyline is not new either. The screenplay does have flaws and, no, the dialogue is not consistently funny. But there’s something about this baccha that keeps you engaged for the most part and when the end-credits roll, you cherish a few moments you spent with this kid.
Now, Madhur Bhandarkar is reputed for his hard-hitting, issue-based films and you naturally wonder whether he will be able to carry off a lighter subject. He does. Not that this film is a masterpiece but for a director who has attempted this genre for the first time, he deserves a hearty applause.
This is a simple story about three guys. One of them is going through a divorce, the second has been asked to leave his rented apartment and has lost his job as a gym instructor and the third guy is a naïve chap who wants to fall in love and get married. Ajay Devgn is the landlord while other two are his paying guests. These three guys slowly become good friends and also fall in love with three women (shades of Chashme Baddoor?).
Ajay Devgn is 38 and going through a divorce but he falls in love with a girl who’s much younger. (Shades of Shaukeen?). Emraan Hashmi woos a wealthy woman who not only fulfills his physical desires but also helps him financially. But later, he falls in love with the woman’s step-daughter and decides to leave the older woman. (The concept of the leading man falling for money and later for love has been attempted umpteen times). The third chap falls in love with a radio jockey and spends his savings helping her fulfil her dreams (a loser-type we watch in every second Hindi film).
OK, so there’s nothing new as far as the story goes but what makes the film worth viewing is the way it’s penned and narrated with simplicity being the hallmark. So, for those who are tired of over-the-top comedies, this one is a treat. For a change, no one’s yelling from the rooftop or pulling silly faces.
Bhandarkar keeps it real for most of the film and it is this ‘true-to-life’ touch that makes it a joyful experience. Despite venturing into a rom-com, he does not forget his forte of staying true to the common man and that’s why you can relate to the characters.
Indeed there are some grim moments but they’re not as dark as those in his earlier movies. In short, a welcome change for Bhandarkar. But we need to see if the Indian audience will digest the fact that the hero romances the mother and then the daughter and sleeps with both women.
There are moments in the film that are either unnecessary or that fail to evoke any emotion. Due to Bhandarkar’s penchant for making a film that isn’t over-the-top, it seems neither he nor his dialogue writer paid attention to one-liners, which fall flat at many places. Also, the climax is a huge letdown – when our trio meet three not-so-happening women.
Another drawback: Though the first half of the film is entertaining and maintains the pace, the second half loses steam and drags a little before the pre-climax.
Pritam Chakraborty’s music is nice and goes well with the mood of the film. But a super-hit song would have added to box office results. Ravi Walia’s cinematography is very good. Editing (Devendra Murdeshwar) is sharp but could have been crisp, especially in the second half.
Performance-wise, Ajay Devgn carries the film and he’s splendid. His awkwardness when it comes to discussing women and attire is perfect. His expression (a close-up shot) when he’s sitting on his bed after he realises the girl he likes is not in love with him is superb. He’s the soul of the film and delivers yet another marvellous performance.
Emraan Hashmi is good in places but at times looks over-confident. Omi Vaidya is fine and moves you when he learns that the woman he loves has chosen her career over love. Shazhan looks like a doll and acts well. Shraddha should have worked a little harder on her make-up but acts ably. Shruti Hassan is fantastic. Tisca Chopra is fabulous. Mukesh Tiwari makes his presence felt in a brief role. Aditya Raj Kapoor needs to take a crash course in acting. Rituparna Sengupta is okay.
Verdict: It’s an enjoyable film that should appeal to today’s youth. Business will be best in the big cities and multiplexes.