Decoding the characters of Dil Dhadakne Do
Satisfying the curiosity of the people around is the one thing that usually comes above everything for Indian citizens. What makes Dil Dhadakne Do beautifully relevant is how the movie successfully attempts in deconstructing this very notion. Every character in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do is trying to say something, trying to break free from something. Maybe that’s why they feel so relatable to anybody who watches Dil Dhadakne Do. Let’s try decoding these characters one by one.
The self-made Ayesha Mehra (Priyanka Chopra)
A dysfunctional Mehra family goes on a cruise to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of Kamal and Neelam Mehra. The extent of patriarchy becomes visible right from the invitation card sent out for the same. The Mehras intentionally remove Aysha Mehra’s name from the card. Reason- ‘Shaadi ke baad ladki parayi ho jaati hai!‘ (The girl belongs to another family after marriage) Their first child Aysha Mehra, the one behind the invitation, herself gets no place on the card.
But Aysha forgives, as always, because Ayesha has spent her entire life thwarting her desires. She has the confidence to build a successful business but can’t summon the strength to confront her parents. This is what makes Ayesha so stunningly relatable to every Indian woman.
The Charmer Sunny Singh (Farhan Akhtar)
Sunny Singh, Ayesha’s teenage love, becomes our love too just with limited yet impactful scenes. “Since when did she need your permission to go for a job”, Sunny asks Manav, Ayesha’s husband, as Manav boasts of his open-mindedness in ‘letting’ his wife work. In this very scene, we feel sorry for Ayesha.
And when we come to know that Sunny had not returned to India despite Ayesha insisting a lot because he wanted to make something of himself, so that he worthy enough to marry her, we are left desperate to see them get back together.
Childish yet lovable Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh)
Kabir Mehra, the youngest child to the Mehra couple is just another carefree who is being forcefully caged by his parents in the name of legacy, reputation, and status.
An aspiring pilot, Kabir is suited up to take charge of the family business. Despite having the right business acumen, Ayesha is completely ruled out from inheriting the family business because patriarchy demands the male offspring to be crowned as the scions of the family legacy.
Though a bit immature, Kabir has a good heart. He falls for Farah Ali just because he sees in her what he wants to be – carefree and completely in charge of one’s life, having the freedom to make choices, and living with passion. It is Farah who gives him the courage to break free and run for what excites him.
Kamal and Neelam Mehra (Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah)
Kamal and Neelam Mehra have never been very kind and understanding of their kids. They forced Ayesha into a marriage she was not ready for and pushed Kabir into the family business he never asked for.
But the couple do not come out as villain. They are just another Indian couple who, like everyone else, are trying to go by the principle of ‘Log Kya Kahenge‘(What will people say). They cover up their acrimonious marriage in the name of adjustment. When Kamal asks Neelam why she never left him in spite of his extramarital affairs, she replies “Where was I supposed to go?” She had nowhere to go and so she silently ignored everything in her troubled marriage. The idea of ‘Shaadi me adjust karna padta hai‘(Adjustments are normal in marriage) resonates well through Neelam Mehra.
A trip can change a lot of things. It did for the Mehras too. It was satisfying to watch Ayesha walk out of an unhappy marriage and see Kabir run to get back to Farah as much as it was to see Kamal Mehra stand up for his daughter and also apologize to his wife Neelam.
In a dysfunctional Indian family, things are never going to be easy and smooth. The movie concludes by giving us a message on how to stand up for each other as a family and how not to fit into the molds made by societal norms and convictions. Or in short – ‘Har Dil Dhadakne Do’ (Let every heart take a beat!)
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