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Dil Chahta Hai

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Dil Chahta Hai
A theatrical release poster for Dil Chahta Hai, featuring the male lead cast.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFarhan Akhtar
Written byFarhan Akhtar
Produced byRitesh Sidhwani
Starring
CinematographyRavi K. Chandran
Edited byA. Sreekar Prasad
Music byShankar–Ehsaan–Loy
Production
company
Distributed byEros Entertainment
Release date
  • 10 August 2001 (2001-08-10)
Running time
177 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget80 million[2]
Box office397.2 million[3]

Dil Chahta Hai (transl.The Heart Desires) is a 2001 Indian Hindi-language coming-of-age romance film written and directed by Farhan Akhtar. It was produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and released under the banner of Excel Entertainment (which Akhtar and Sidhwani co-founded), marking their cinematic debut. The film focuses on a significant transition period in the romantic lives of three college-graduate friends (Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Akshaye Khanna). It also stars Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, and Dimple Kapadia.

Dil Chahta Hai was based on Akhtar's diary detailing his trips to Mumbai and New York City, and a story by a friend of his. He started writing the screenplay in 1998 but finished it when the film's principal photography was started two years later. The film was produced on a budget of 80 million (US$1.0 million), and filming took place in both India and Australia. Dil Chahta Hai was one of the first films shot in sync sound, with Nakul Kamte and H. Sridhar handling its sound recording. The trio Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy, with lyrics from Akhtar's father, Javed Akhtar, composed the soundtrack.

Dil Chahta Hai premiered on 10 August 2001. The film performed moderately at the box office, grossing 397.2 million (US$5.2 million) after its theatrical run ended. The film was well-received by audiences from metropolitan areas but failed among audiences in rural areas; its failure in rural areas was attributed to the city-oriented lifestyle it presented. Critically, the film garnered positive reviews, with some believing that it broke new ground by introducing a realistic portrayal of Indian youth. Dil Chahta Hai has received several accolades upon release, including two National Film Awards and seven Filmfare Awards.

Plot[edit]

Akash, Sameer, and Sid have just graduated from college and take a trip to Goa to celebrate. At a scenic spot by the sea, they relax and vow to return there every year. Only Sid is sceptical that they will remain friends once life takes over. On their return, Sameer is arranged by his parents to marry Pooja, his parents' friends' daughter, while Akash's parents ask him to manage the family business in Sydney. Around the same time, Sid meets a new neighbour, Tara, who lives alone and whom he helps to move. Soon, two of the friends have fallen in love: Sameer with Pooja and Sid with Tara. Tara receives a distressing call from her ex-husband on her birthday. To cheer her up, Sid takes her out to celebrate with Akash and Sameer. After dropping her on the way back, he tells his friends that he loves her. Akash makes a disparaging remark about Tara's age, causing an infuriated Sid to slap him and insult him. Akash and Sameer are both shocked, and the former leaves the night angrily, ultimately straining his friendship with Sid.

Sid leaves the town for Kasauli to pursue a degree course in painting, and Akash departs for Sydney. On the flight, he runs into Shalini, a one-time acquaintance from college who agrees to show him around Sydney while there. Meanwhile, Sameer waits for Pooja to dump her much-disciplined boyfriend Subodh and eventually asks her out. Tara walks in on Sid telling his mother about his feelings and does not wish to talk with him for believing a relationship between them is possible. In Sydney, Akash is having a change of heart by falling in love with Shalini. Shalini, however, is engaged and returns to India to marry Rohit, who is extremely possessive of her. The heartbroken Akash is asked to return home by his father. Encouraged by those around him and Shalini's uncle Mahesh, he talks to Shalini on the eve of her wedding and proposes to her despite threats from Rohit. Shalini is conflicted by loyalty to Rohit's parents, who raised her after the death of her parents. Rohit's parents ask her to listen to her heart and marry Akash instead.

In the present day, Sid finds Tara in an advanced stage of cirrhosis. He rushes to the hospital, but she passes away while still talking to him. Sid is devastated, but the night gave him the chance to reunite with Sameer and reconcile with Akash. Six months later, the friends return to Goa as promised, accompanied by Shalini and Pooja. At their picnic spot from earlier, Sid sees a woman in the distance who smiles at him. He approaches her and the film ends with the three couples enjoying dinner together at a restaurant.

Cast[edit]

Credits adapted from Bollywood Hungama:[4]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The film was based on Farhan Akhtar's diary he wrote during his trips to Goa and his month-and-a-half long stay in New York City in 1996 and a story by a friend of his. He originally conceived a story about the romantic relationship between Akash and his girlfriend, Shalini. He later shared it with his parents (Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani), who immediately liked his idea but suggested several changes.[5] However, he felt the story was not exciting and unusual enough for him and started to develop other characters, including Akash's friends, making his initial idea become the film's subplot.[6] He was quoted as saying that:

"I always wondered what happens to the best friends of the hero after reel number three. Where do they go? When he needs them the most, they are never there. And so at some time the weight of the story shifted from Aamir [Khan]'s love story with Preity [Zinta] to becoming a story about the friendships and how individual love stories affect the friendships."[5]

While co-directing music videos for Shankar Mahadevan's album Breathless (1998) with his sister Zoya Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar began writing the film's screenplay under the working title of Hum Teen in 1998. After principal photography commenced in 2000, he finished it when the film was retitled Dil Chahta Hai.[7][8] Talking to the magazine Screen, he told them that the screenplay reflected himself, his friendships, and his concerns, adding that it was "definitely a fresh view of friendship in Hindi films".[9] Farhan Akhtar originally wrote the dialogue in English, and he translated it to Hindi in two months.[6] This marked the cinematic debut of Akhtar and his friend Ritesh Sidhwani, who produced it under their banner of Excel Entertainment.[4][10] Several elements of the film were inspired by the English playwright William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.[11]

Casting[edit]

Aamir Khan in 2017.
Saif Ali Khan in 2017.
Akshaye Khanna in 2007.
Dimple Kapadia in 2018.
Sonali Kulkarni in 2017.
Preity Zinta in 2018.
Clockwise from upper left: Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, and Dimple Kapadia were cast in the lead roles

Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan (no relation), Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, and Dimple Kapadia were chosen as the lead actors.[8] Aamir Khan, playing Akash, described his character as a typical man of present-day India.[12] He accepted to star in the film after he read the film's screenplay, which he noted for its freshness.[13] He said, "He is to a great extent self-centered, doesn't believe in love and doesn't indulge in emotions. In that sense he is quite shallow but not really a bad guy at heart."[12] He was also offered to portray Sid, but he did not want to change his mind because he believed he had played several roles of the same type. He admitted he liked the Akash role, calling it was "something [he] never done before". In preparation, Aamir Khan, 34, changed his style to a 24-year-old man in two months.[14]

Saif Ali Khan was cast as Sameer, a part he found to resemble his personality.[15] Particularly drawn to the qualities of his role, he described the film as a "learning experience".[16] Initially, he did not want to star in the film but Kapadia and Javed Akhtar persuaded him to do so, which meant that he replaced Abhishek Bachchan.[17][18] Farhan Akhtar wanted Hrithik Roshan to play the role of Sid after he saw the actor in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000). When Roshan said that he had a busy schedule,[19] Khanna came to replace him. The press labelled this project as Khanna's comeback film after being featured in many commercially unsuccessful films and taking a two-year hiatus. Khanna mentioned Dil Chahta Hai has a unique concept, and his interest in its script made him sign on to the film. His role gave him "a very new sound, a new look and a very young feel" as well as a new screen image.[20][21] Aamir Khan spoke positively of his rapport with them, confessing that it was his dream to collaborate with the two.[22]

Zinta also decided to accept the offer for starring in the film after reading its screenplay, which she referred to as "fabulous".[23] Before filming, Zinta and Farhan Akhtar had been long-time friends and had promised to do a film together.[24] She performed a screen test at his house and was cast for the role of Shalini, Aamir Khan's love interest, spending three-and-a-half months in preparation.[23][24] While Kulkarni got the part as Sameer's fiancée Pooja, Kapadia was chosen for the middle-aged alcoholic interior designer and divorcée Tara and, according to Rediff.com, it was the first time she played the love interest of a much younger man.[25] Kapadia told Filmfare that making the film was an enriching experience and called her part "a role to die for". In the interview, she said the role was "very dark" as the character dies at the end of the film, which she did not like, and she felt that it has no "sunshine except this little bond that she forms with" Khanna.[26] Considering her as the film's "surprise package", Farhan Akhtar did not want to feature her in any trailers and music videos of Dil Chahta Hai aired on televisions because he wanted to astonish the audience.[25] Zoya Akhtar did the casting.[27]

Filming[edit]

Dil Chahta Hai was made with a budget of 80 million (US$1.0 million). Filming started in 2000 and was completed in 108 days by Ravi K. Chandran, taking place in Mumbai, Goa, and Sydney.[25][28] While Arjun Bhasin did the costume design, Farah Khan and Yunus Pathan were the choreographer and art director, respectively;[4] Suzanne Caplan Merwanji worked as the production designer.[6] Finished by Nakul Kamte and H. Sridhar,[4] the film was shot in sync sound—which means that the sound was recorded at the time of the shooting—making it one of the first Indian films to use the technique.[29] A. Sreekar Prasad edited the film. In an interview with Filmfare magazine, he stated that he was initially sceptical of Farhan Akhtar, a newcomer director. However, he later changed his mind after finding him to be more professional than other directors he worked with. Prasad said that he felt excited editing the Dil Chahta Hai, stating that it reminded him of his college days and calling Dil Chahta Hai a "revelation" for him.[30]

Music[edit]

The soundtrack and background score to Dil Chahta Hai were composed by Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy after A. R. Rahman declined the offer.[31][32] The lyrics were written by Javed Akhtar. The vocals were performed by Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Caralisa Monteiro, Srinivas, Shaan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Mahadevan, Clinton Cerejo, KK, Harvey, and Sonu Nigam.[33] Noorani stated that the trio went to Khandala along with Farhan Akhtar, Javed Akhtar, and Sidhwani to compose six songs from a total of nine for the film in three-and-a-half days. Mendosa described the experience as 35 percent of work and 65 percent fun and added that they had a "fantastic time". After staying in Khandala, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy subsequently booked a studio to finish the recording in three weeks.[34]

Release[edit]

Dil Chahta Hai was one of the most anticipated Indian films of the year, owing to its plot of youth rarely touched in Indian cinema.[35][36] The one-minute-long trailer was released on television and film theatres across India to increase audience enthusiasm and publicity from the media.[37] Prior to its theatrical release, a special screening for Indian Home Minister L. K. Advani was held at his house in Delhi.[38] The film premiered at theatres on 10 August 2001 and clashed with Deepak Shivdasani's romantic drama Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke.[39][40] Dil Chahta Hai was later screened in several film festivals: the 33rd International Film Festival of India,[41] the 14th Palm Springs International Film Festival,[42] and the 11th Austin Film Festival.[43]

The film was moderately successful, performing well in metropolitan areas but failing in rural regions.[44] Trade analysts attributed its commercial performance in rural regions to the city-oriented lifestyle depicted in the film.[45] However, the film ran for more than 50 weeks, thereby becoming a golden jubilee film.[46][a] It was released on 210 screens in India and grossed 9 million (US$120,000) on its opening day.[48] It collected 27.7 million (US$360,000) by the end of its first weekend,[49] and 57.3 million (US$750,000) after its first week.[50] The film earned 332.8 million (US$4.4 million) from the country, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing Indian film that year.[51] Abroad Dil Chahta Hai was a commercial success, collecting $210,000 in North America and $100,000 in Atlantic countries in its opening first weekend.[52][53] The film collected 16.5 million (US$220,000),[54] and grossed 64.4 million (US$850,000) after finishing its overseas theatrical run, making itself the seventh-highest-grossing Indian film of the year.[55] Box Office India estimated it grossed 397.2 million (US$5.2 million) internationally.[56]

The television premiere of Dil Chahta Hai occurred on 17 August 2002 on StarPlus.[57] The film was released on DVD as a single-disc pack in the NTSC widescreen format on 14 December 2007,[58] and the double-disc version was released simultaneously; Spark Entertainment distributed the latter.[59] The film has been accessible for streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix since 18 November 2016.[60][61][62]

Critical reception[edit]

Dil Chahta Hai was well received by critics,[63] who praised the film's fresh storyline,[64] Farhan Akhtar's direction,[65] and the performances of the cast.[64][66] Some critics also noted that the film had a realistic portrayal of Indian youth.[67][68] In a two-star review published by Bollywood Hungama, the critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh declared the film a landmark for Aamir Khan's career. Adarsh considered the film to include the best performance of both Saif Ali Khan and Khanna's careers.[69] Film critic Sita Menon felt Farhan Akhtar had made "an impressive debut" with the film, praising him for developing the characters "very well". Menon also considered Khanna's performance "rich" and deep.[70]

Writing for Screen, Piroj Wadia called the film "an amazing debut" for Farhan Akhtar, further commending his "good" script and "fine" direction along with "excellent" cinematography from Chandran.[71] Dinesh Raheja found the film to have a "refreshingly wicked sense of humour". He agreed with Adarsh's opinion about Saif Ali Khan's performance, stating that Khan "brings the house down with his funny one-liners and seems to be having a whale of a time".[72] Both Wadia and Raheja also complimented Kapadia in her brief role, stating that she had shown her versatility.[72][71] Ziya Us Salam called Dil Chahta Hai "a rare film on male camaraderie, on bachelor bonding". He applauded its depiction of urban youth's lifestyle from middle and upper-middle-class families, adding that the film "is a rare situational comedy which does not have to rely on facial contortions and banana peels to raise peals of laughter. Here the situations are almost normal with reactions of the three leading characters almost as natural."[73]

In a review carried by Filmfare, Arati Koppar hailed Dil Chahta Hai as a "fabulous ... attempt" for a directorial debut, claiming that Aamir Khan was the best among the other lead actors.[74] Komal Nahta praised Zinta for "[looking] glamorous and sexy and acts beautifully. The new look of all the four aforementioned actors only adds to the freshness." He also saw Kapadia suited her role despite her old look but panned Kulkarni's "wasted" role. Apart from reviewing the performances, Nahta also expressed admiration for the direction from Farhan Akhtar and took note of his ability to handle the narration "with aplomb and belies the fact that this is his maiden attempt".[75] Jasdeep Singh Pannu from NDTV labelled Dil Chahta Hai as a "wonderfully-crafted film" with "a melodramatic act, an element better kept to the conventional Bollywood movie".[76] While Zee Next asserted it as one of the greatest Bollywood films of the year,[77] Saibal Chatterjee elaborated: "Akhtar demonstrates a style that is as sophisticated as it is impressive. Virtually every character in the intricate tapestry that the young filmmaker creates is utterly tangible, the emotions are completely believable, and the situations fraught with subtle drama."[78]

The Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times' K. N. Vijiyan inscribed, "This is very much a buddy-buddy film exploring the love affairs of three good friends who part ways and later, get back together." Vijiyan commented that the film was slightly different from the usual Bollywood masala films and felt that it would not appeal to the Indian audience; he also discussed its production aspects, opining that Chandran had spun "magic" with his cinematography.[79] In her retrospective review for The Wall Street Journal, Beth Watkins wrote, "The mix of humour, emotion, sincerity and wisdom makes Dil Chahta Hai a truly enduring film."[80]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A golden jubilee film is one that completes a theatrical run of 50 weeks or 300 days.[47]

References[edit]

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