This is a review about the film Dil Se starring Manisha Koirala and Shah Rukh Khan.
With this film, we once again see Shah Rukh Khan’s acting talents on full display. As his character goes through the seven Arabic stages of love, you see him portray a man who goes from a boyish attitude to a desperate man without a hitch. We get to see his character develop through the seven stages of love and each stage is detailed enough to see the character change during the course of the movie. Once again, Manisha manages to deliver another stellar performance as an emotionally scarred young woman who must deal with an inner struggle between her desire to get independence for her state and her love for Shah Rukh Khan’s character. She manages to show her characters inner feelings through subtle emotions and body language. It always amazes me to see the talent of Manisha on display in a film. This film also introduces Preity Zinta as one of Shah Rukh Khan’s marriage prospect. While her performance is not at the same level as Khan’s or Manisha’s performances, Zinta does not drag down the film at all and pulls her own weight. We get a glimpse of Zinta’s character’s love background and while it is not much, it is enough to reasonably establish her character. Overall, the acting and characters in this film are fantastic.
I do not have much criticism for the music in this film. Once again, A. R. Rahman delivers on the songs. They are fantastic, catchy and memorable. Considering the fact that I remember most of these songs (the Tamil versions at least) from the huge number of times they were played during my childhood, I think its safe to say that these songs were a huge hit. In fact, just like Bombay, all of the songs have made it into my personal music collection. In terms of the dance sequences for the song, the director manages to get some amazing locations and choreography going for the songs. One of my favourite dance sequences happens for “Cheyiya Cheyiya” when they are dancing on a moving train as it is going through the countryside. It was one of the most unique dance sequences I have seen in a very long time.
The locations used for this film, especially during the first half are absolutely stunning. Locations include Assam, Kerala, Kashmir, Delhi and other regions. It was the first time I got a glimpse of the people who live near the India-China and India-Burma border. It was also the first time I got to look at Buddhist monasteries that exist in the desert regions of India. Each of the landscapes was breathtaking to behold and the cinematography is definitely a treat for the viewer. There were no shaky cameras and the angles chosen for many scenes were good. The lighting during night time sequences was appropriate, especially during the fights with the terrorist group, during which it was dark and gloomy to help heighten the tension in the atmosphere. The cinematography during the second half of the film does not quite live up to the first half mostly because the film moves back to Delhi. However, that does not mean the quality of the cinematography suffers. In fact, it is just as good as the first half. Overall, a great job done on cinematography.
As usual, we are now at the most important part of the film: the plot. The premise here is quite straightforward, Shah Rukh Khan plays a person who works for the All India Radio station. He travels to the North-East of India to interview separatist terrorists. Along the way, he meets a beautiful woman (Manisha) and attempts to make romantic advances. Manisha’s character constantly refuses his advances but refuses to give him a solid reason as to why. Eventually, we learn she is a terrorist herself who plans to assassinate the Indian president during the 50 year anniversary parade of Indian independence in Delhi. From there, the film continues to resolve the two lovers’ story. During the entire plot, we can see hints of Manisha’s character developing feelings for Shah Rukh Khan’s character despite being reluctant to do so. It is refreshing to see a film where the romance between the two main stars does not instantly occur over a period of like 15 minutes. The romance is supposed to mirror the Arabic seven stages of love. While the movie does not make it entirely obvious which stage Shah Rukh Khan’s character is in during some parts of the movie, there is enough detail that you can guess at each part. The plot is simple enough that anyone can follow it, however it is not too simple that you will be rolling your eyes. The film manages to reveal just enough information about Manisha’s character that the viewer is kept interested without revealing too much at a time. The plot manages to remain lean and on track for the most part. However, I do feel that Preity Zinta’s character and the entire story line about her being a marriage prospect with Shah Rukh Khan was added just as filler to boost the running time. The film’s plot would have been just fine if they omitted Preity Zinta’s character altogether. Another bad point about the plot is the ending. While I will not tell you the ending itself, I will state that it felt kind of like a cop-out ending. While it was certainly conclusive with zero doubt, I felt like the writers took the easy path. Then again, knowing the 7th stage of Arabic romance, I am not surprised by the ending. But I’m always a happy ending type of guy and this sort-of unhappy ending left me feeling a bit cheated.