14 September 2015 | Peter_Young
A bright musical gem
Dil To Pagal Hai is a wonderfully made movie - entertaining, impressive and romantic. I appreciate the fact that Chopra kept updating his style with every new film. This is one film in which the songs are mostly a part of the storyline and the movie can be rightly described as a romantic musical, and not just because it's Bollywood. Where the music goes, Uttam's soundtrack is totally excellent, but more than anything the way in which the songs are presented is exemplary. This film actually bears the stamp of Hindi cinema's immense talent in making musicals. No one can do it better, and that's not about the choreography or the technical brilliance, it's more about the soul. The numbers are evidently very well invested (the foremost example being the very first song, "Le Gayee", which is a part of the show and a great opening), spectacularly danced and are really fun to watch, but there's something else in there, a kind of charm that is hard to explain in words.
Dil To Pagal Hai indulges in its romanticism but what I found great about it is its totally realistic portrayal of young artists. Chopra strikes an amazing balance between contemporary culture and poetic romanticism. While some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy, most of it is actually very real and has some sense of everyday reality. Chopra portrays the troupe of Shahrukh as a totally modern one, while the character of Madhuri and her soft romantic nature is actually deprecated even by some of the characters in the film itself. But the whole theory of the film, which tries to convey a message that somewhere someone is made for you, is quite interesting and inspiring despite its cheesiness. The film is never overly melodramatic or gushing in its emotional quotient. It tries to present itself as a simple love story, which does not work with a larger-than-life story but rather an episode in which true romance comes in the middle of happy-go-lucky, hardly-romantic people.
The story itself may actually be one of the film's weakest links, but the script and the execution, along with the technical brilliance and the soul which the director injects it with, elevate the picture to an altogether different level. Yash Chopra should be remembered for his ability to make a film with a stale story and yet infuse it with new-found energy. He, in a way, proved at that time that one need not make a sobby melodrama in order to make a good film. Dil To Pagal Hai is high on production values - the art direction is fantastic, and the cinematography is very good. As mentioned above, the songs actually work well with the film's story because it is about dancers. My favourite dance performance which is also one of my favourite moments in the film is the "Dance of Envy" between Madhuri and Karisma, which is astonishingly gripping and reminiscent of Sridevi's amazing "Moments of Rage" number from Chopra's Lamhe, and here too there's a certain psychological tension which is very well handled.
Where acting goes, Madhuri Dixit is the perfect Hindi film heroine - beautiful, gentle, charming and a stupendous dancer. Here she is wonderful as Pooja, proving you don't have to cry buckets and scream ceaselessly to deliver a completely good performance. She's dreamy and innocent, and there's something genuinely sincere about the way she delivers many of her clichéd dialogues, which could have easily made any other actress look cheesy and embarrassing. Shahrukh Khan is excellent and typically energetic. Yes, this is not a Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa or a Dil Se in which he had rich, complex roles, but his character is very good within the parameters of this film, and he is thoroughly convincing. Akshay Kumar in what, sadly, is one of his best roles at that time, is very efficient and suitably restrained. Yet, without a doubt, the show is totally stolen by Karisma Kapoor in a brilliantly self-assured performance full of passion and emotional commitment. She is totally there, expressive, heartfelt, and extremely impressive in her dance numbers.
I know many disagree with me on this one (for all I care), but I think it deserves great praise for handling a cheesy subject with sophistication and style. Dil To Pagal Hai is classic Bollywood entertainment - lighthearted, positive, and with a slight touch of a new India which must have been very refreshing for those times. Personally I may be a little biased since it does hold some nostalgic value for me, but even watching it today I loved the spectacular numbers, the melodious songs (long live Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, and the whole team of wonderful playback singers assigned to the brilliant soundtrack), the modern characters and even the love story which is efficiently incorporated into the stage shows, showing how art imitates life and vice versa within the film.