Dil Bole Hadippa!

DIL BOLE HADIPPA! (2009, d. Anurag Singh)

There are times when there’s just no pleasing some people. Or in the case of 2009’s cricketing comedy Dil Bole Hadippa! (’The Heart Yells Hooray!’), it would seem there are times when there’s just no pleasing anyone. How such a thoroughly delightful, warm-spirited romp could pass by virtually undetected as it did late last year, garnering little but shrugged shoulders from cinema-goers, truly boggles this Bolly-mad bloke’s brain. What was there not to adore? Two unhealthily attractive leads, a genuinely uproarious cross-dressing plot, one of the catchiest, dance-worthy soundtracks in recent years and boasting more unbridled energy than a Hadron Collider. All this plus more, yet what reactions does it provoke? “Rani’s too old… Not more Punjabi stuff… Sooo clichéd”. Killjoys, I tell thee. Killjoys!

Rani Mukerji plays plucky Veera, a girl who’s crackers about cricket and can run rings around even the male players in her small Punjabi neighbourhood. When village elder Vikram Singh (Anupam Kher) recruits his son, England cricketer Rohan (Shahid Kapoor), to coach his Indian team for a friendly game against their Pakistani rivals, Veera sets her sights on getting selected. After she is rebuffed by the male-only squad, she hatches a plan and swaps her tights for a turban - morphing from feisty female to stern sardar, fake beard ‘n’ all. Her daring scheme proves a success and Rohan takes the newly-named ‘Veer’ into the team, only to ask ‘him’ for an additional service: advice on how to woo ‘his sister’ Veera, with whom he has fallen in love with!

Shahid and Rani dance to ‘Discowale Khisko’, one of the decade’s best songs: See it!

Okay, so the premise may be thinner than Amy Winehouse standing sideways and, yeah, Punjabi culture has been celebrated/mocked in equally liberal doses already in Indian films (particularly by distributor Yash Raj Films), but when one is eating a meal that has been served countless times before yet has now been cooked to absolute perfection, should it be sent back to the kitchen or savoured with a generous tip left? My vote goes to the latter as I had a ball watching Dil Bole Hadippa!, a Bollywood romantic musical that admittedly has nothing new to offer the genre, but what it lacks in originality more than makes up for in sheer entertainment value.

Much of the fun is owed to star (yet strangely second-billed) Rani Mukerji in a comedic part that is poles apart from her role as a deaf-dumb-blind woman in 2005’s haunting drama Black, yet no less engaging. She’s clearly relishing the chance to take centre stage here, carrying the picture as she does single-handedly. Seldom have I seen any screen performer run the emotional gammit of laughs and tears with such stunning enthusiasm, all the while vigorously dancing up a storm inbetween. All other participants simply play second fiddle and with rumours abounding that Mukerji even ghost-directed several scenes, DBH! could easily be considered her baby. Which makes the resulting failure of the movie all the more disheartening. Perhaps audiences of Indian cinema just aren’t ready for a popcorn masala flick in which the girl runs the show, particularly when it’s Rani, who - at 31 - should be smearing white chalk in her dark hair and playing aunties by now as is Bollywood tradition. Certainly not acting alongside hunky Shahid Kapoor, an actor who is (gasp!) younger than she is.

Cross-dressing’s a drag

In a televised interview with filmmaker Karan Johar, Rani Mukerji once revealed that her own mother opined to her that Rani isn’t a fraction of how good an actress Madhuri Dixit was. And she was correct. She’s better. I remain hopeful that Bollywood’s Miss Dependable carries on defying expectations and delivering such lively films as Dil Bole Hadippa!, even though I sometimes fear it will be for nobody else’s benefit except mine. Surely somebody else out there likes this one. Anyone! Koi hai?

Posted by Stephen on January 4th, 2010


josh said

January 4, 2010 @ 9:54 am

Thanks for putting up the blog.

Even I don’t know what is the prblem with Indian film industry .

they can make mindless comedy like SIK & Welcome blockbuster what about this yaar ?

It is totally a fun-filled journey & meant to be enzoyed throughout but critics bashed it on the first day of its release .Still it got average status at B.O but media is hellbent to term it flop to stop rani from making a reasonable comeback .Give her due credit man which she deserved & worked her heart out..

Jabmo` said

January 4, 2010 @ 10:07 am

I think the main reason this has been given a cold shoulder is cus it brings out the feeling been there done that feeling, I to be honest have not seen it cus of the same old same old vibes it brings. On the other hand a bollywood film that came out this is year got worse treatment to this is Chandini Chowk to China and suprisingly loved it, made to be like an old school kungfu flick with a slight stephen chow style wackiness I felt it was the most fun film i watched last year…actually then the good bad and the wierd came along but still a good fun film nevertheless


January 4, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

Well, I haven’t seen it yet but I’m sure I’ll like it!
Yours was the first positive review of DBH I’ve read and it just confirms my first impression. It’s probably quite good, the problem is that people expect “younger” actresses playing this sort of role. But seriously - how old is 31?

Oh, I also loved you calling Rani “Bollywood’s Miss Dependable”. She really is.


January 26, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

This is on my priority list from my rental service, i hope it comes soon, I loved reading your review, such an Enthusiastic Rani lover you are i love her too and loved the songs from the film

Unknown said

February 13, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

I’m glad you liked it, I enjoyed it too. I felt Rani and Shahid shared a great chemistry despite the age difference- which isn’t that big anyway!

I personally really enjoyed the Veera-Rohan scenes the most.


April 29, 2010 @ 7:53 am

Great post. I really liked this movie too - as well as (like Jabno) Chandni Chowk to China. I think Rani Mukerjee is a wonder and can’t understand why she seems to draw so many snarky reviews and comments. (As do so many of the films I like; glad to find bloggers, at least, who share my appreciation for some of these. Conversely, I cannot understand why some of the hits are hits!) I hope Rani will get more good roles for as long as she wants, because I’m sure she can handle anything she takes on.

Suja said

January 20, 2011 @ 10:14 am

I’m on commenting on this old post because I liked it too, but I would label is as a good ‘time-pass’ as they would say in India :) Rani is a beautiful and versatile actress and its always a pleasure to watch her and I think Shahid has an excellent potential (I loved him in Jab We Met and I have kept an eye on him since).

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