Dil Chahta Hai
Dil Chahta Hai (English: What the heart wants) is a 2001 Indian comedy-drama film starring Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, and Dimple Kapadia. The first film written and directed by Farhan Akhtar, it is set in modern-day urban Mumbai and Sydney, and focuses on a major period of transition in the lives of three young friends.
|Dil Chahta Hai|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Farhan Akhtar|
|Produced by||Ritesh Sidhwani|
|Written by||Farhan Akhtar|
|Screenplay by||Farhan Akhtar|
Saif Ali Khan
|Cinematography||Ravi K. Chandran|
|Edited by||A. Sreekar Prasad|
|Distributed by||Excel Entertainment|
|Budget||₹140 million (US$2.0 million)|
|Box office||₹450 million (US$6.5 million)|
In 2001, the film won National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. It performed better in the urban areas of the country compared to the rural areas, which was attributed by critics to the city-oriented lifestyle depicted in which all the characters are from rich or upper-middle-class families. Over the years, it has attained a cult status.
Siddharth "Sid" (Akshaye Khanna) and Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) are catching up after a long time as Sid waits for updates on a patient in the lobby of a hospital. They reminisce about their lives after college and the conversation veers towards Akash (Aamir Khan), who Sameer reveals is about to get married. Through a flashback, it is revealed that Akash, Sid and Sameer were once the best of friends. Akash is the carefree one, who cycles through girlfriends every two weeks, and Sameer is the confused one, falling in love with every girl he meets and getting his heart broken as a result. Sid is more thoughtful and reticent, preferring instead to spend his time working on paintings. The three of them take a trip together to Goa to celebrate graduating from college, with Sameer trying to get over an ex-girlfriend and Akash trying to escape from a clingy one who just won't let go.
Back home, Sid helps an older woman named Tara (Dimple Kapadia) who is moving stuff into her new house in the neighbourhood. He invites her over to see his paintings and they bond. Soon, Sid finds himself drawn to her and asks her to be the subject for one of his paintings. Meanwhile, Sameer's parents are arranging his marriage and are keen for him to meet Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni), their family friend's daughter. Initially reluctant, he falls in love with her at first sight and later confesses to his friends that he feels she is "the one". However, Pooja is seeing someone else and Sameer has to content himself with being just a friend for the time being. Tara, who has a daughter from her last marriage, is distraught when her ex-husband stops her from visiting on her birthday. Sid, who had dropped by to convey his wishes, ends up taking her to a restaurant with his friends to try and cheer her up. Later, he confides in Sameer and Akash that he loves her but they cannot seem to understand his attraction for a divorced alcoholic. With their friend's best interest at heart, they try and talk him out of it before a childish remark by Akash infuriates Sid and he slaps him. This leads to a fallout between the two with Sameer left to play mediator.
Soon after, Akash is sent by his father to Sydney, Australia to learn the family business. On the flight, he finds himself seated next to Shalini (Preity Zinta), a girl to whom he had once proposed in jest at the college graduation party. He apologizes for his prank and asks if she would show him around Sydney since she has visited before. Shalini, who is engaged to someone else, agrees. Soon, Akash's playful nature becomes a foil to her fiancee Rohit, who is domineering and possessive, and she begins to enjoy his company. Meanwhile in Mumbai, Sameer's patience has paid off. Pooja tires of her boyfriend and dumps him, leaving the path clear for him to ask her out. On the other hand, Sid's mother wants to know why he evades any discussion on marriage. He mentions his feelings for Tara, leading to an argument between them, which Tara overhears. She asks him to leave her alone, disappointed that he has drawn untoward conclusions from their friendship. Sid, who had never intended to have this conversation with her, decides to spend time at his uncle's farmhouse to focus on his paintings.
Akash and Shalini, at her insistence, go to see an opera performance of Troilus and Cressida so that Akash can evolve from his two-week policy and learn the meaning of love. This seems to work and Akash realizes he is actually in love with Shalini herself. At the same time, Rohit visits Shalini in Sydney, intending to return with her to India and get married. On the eve of their return, they invite Akash for dinner. Shalini privatey reveals to Akash that she is aware of his changed feelings, however leaves for India the next day. Akash is dejected and tries to call up Sameer from his apartment, only to mistakenly dial Sid's number. He remembers that the two are no longer friends and breaks down. In tears, he answers a call from his father who, realizing something is amiss, asks him to come home. At his father's encouragement, Akash finds out Shalini's true reason for marrying Rohit: not out of love but from a sense of gratitude towards his parents for adopting her after her parents' death. With Sameer and Mahesh at his side, Akash crashes the wedding festivities and proposes. Rohit's father encourages the union, not wanting Shalini to marry Rohit out of a feeling of repaying a false sense of debt.
In the present day, Akash drops by at the hospital and reconciles with Sid. Moments later, Tara dies inside the hospital room from liver cirrhosis, but not before thanking Sid and asking him to move on. A few months later, the three friends reunite in Goa, where they are joined by Shalini and Pooja. At the picnic site, Sid sees a girl at a distance and walks toward her. As the credits roll, it is implied that he and the girl got together as the three friends and their significant others enjoy dinner.
- Aamir Khan as Akash Malhotra:
One of the main trio of characters and the son of wealthy industrialist A. K. Malhotra, Akash is shown as a carefree, sometimes irresponsible individual who grows from having a two-week life-cycle for relationships to crashing Shalini's wedding to keep her in his life. Amongst the group, Akash frequently uses Sameer as the target for his jokes and pranks, even going to the extent of causing a fight that eventually led to a breakup between Sameer and his girlfriend, only because he did not like Priya's bossy attitude.
- Saif Ali Khan as Sameer Mulchandani:
One of the main trio of characters, Sameer is shown as a hopeless romantic who cannot stop himself from falling in love with every girl he meets. After Sid and Akash's fallout, Sameer is left to play the mediator in the group. While being the target of Akash's jokes, Sameer takes them sportingly and rarely feels insulted. He is shown as a loyal friend to Sid and Akash, refusing to take sides in their fight, while also sticking with Akash when his girlfriend Priya resents their friendship.
- Akshaye Khanna as Siddharth "Sid" Sinha:
One of the main trio of characters, Sid is the quiet and reticent one in the group. He falls in love with a divorced alcoholic and struggles with his feelings not being understood by his family and friends. While Akash frequently targets Sameer in his pranks, Sid is shown to be the supportive one who tries to be the sane voice in the group. He is also not above pranking Akash himself, as seen in him casually undercutting Akash's attempts to escape Deepa by informing her of his whereabouts. Though his own relationship remains unfulfilled, he provides the impetus for Sameer to finally confess his love for Pooja, leading to the two of them to get together.
- Preity Zinta as Shalini:
Shalini is Akash's love interest for the second half of the film. She is engaged to marry Rohit, the son of her father's business partner who, along with his wife, adopted Shalini when her parents died early. She feels indebted to them, but also shows that she is not above enjoying herself and standing up to Rohit when needed, even though she remains devoted and loyal to his family. She shares a close relationship with her uncle Mahesh, who is both a father-figure and a brother, owing to his being relatively close to Shalini in age.
- Sonali Kulkarni as Pooja:
Pooja is Sameer's love interest after his breakup with Priya. Pooja is dating Subodh and seems to be in a committed relationship, but still agrees to meet with Sameer complying with her parents' wishes. She is reluctant to reveal her relationship to him, which may arise from her not being "sure" of how much she likes Subodh. Eventually, it is hinted that she tires of Subodh's overly disciplined nature and dumps him, accepting Sameer's proposal when he asks her out.
- Dimple Kapadia as Tara Jaiswal:
Tara is a divorced alcoholic who has a daughter from her past marriage and moves into Sid's neighbourhood after he graduates from college. Tara is shown to be frustrated in her personal life, not having separated on good terms with her husband who stops her from seeing their daughter and remarries. Tara's birthday becomes an important day in the story as it is revealed to also be the day her husband divorced her, as well as being the day Sid discusses his feelings for her with Sameer and Akash, leading up to the fallout between the two. While Tara hints at the end of the film that she may have considered Sid as more than just a friend, their relationship remains platonic and she seems to share Sid's mother's views on the inappropriateness of their relationship.
- Ayub Khan as Rohit:
Rohit is the domineering and possessive fiancee of Shalini. Rohit is portrayed as hot-headed and frequently violent, as seen from the final sequence when he ends up pushing his own father away when he stops her from marrying him. His character acts as the foil to Akash, especially in the second half of the film. During a pivotal moment in the Akash-Shalini's storyline, Akash sees an old beggar approaching Shalini in the train subway late at night in Sydney, but resolves the situation by hugging him and scaring him away instead of resorting to violence as would be expected of Rohit.
- Rajat Kapoor as Mahesh:
Mahesh is Shalini's single uncle who works as a photographer in Sydney. Being her only living relative, Mahesh is shown to be close in age in Shalini. This helps as he frequently becomes one of the group when Akash and Shalini meet in Sydney, and is able to interact with Akash and Rohit as a friend more than an elderly figure. He is also shown to maintain good ties with Rohit's parents, as Rohit's father speaks to him first during the scene following Akash's proposal the wedding.
- Suchitra Pillai as Priya:
Priya is the bossy girlfriend of Sameer, whom she dumps soon after their graduation. She is shown to resent Akash's friendship with Sameer and breaks up with him after he fails to choose her over Akash in a fight.
- Samantha Treymane as Deepa:
Deepa is a clingy ex-girlfriend of Akash, holding on to him long after he has lost interest in their relationship. Her attempts to meet up with him in Goa create much of the comic scenes in the earlier part of the film, though she seems to be aware that her attraction is one-sided in her conversation with Sid at the beach.
- Asad Dadarkar as Subodh:
Subodh is the ex-boyfriend of Pooja, before she gets together with Sameer. Subodh follows a strictly disciplined life, governed by a schedule that he does not seem to be capable of changing in any way. He is also shown to lack any kind of impulsion, regularly treating Pooja on their monthly anniversaries and giving her a balloon everyday at the same place and same time. This leads to Sameer labeling him as a "time-table".
|1.||"Dil Chahta Hai"||Shankar Mahadevan, Clinton Cerejo||5:11|
|2.||"Jaane Kyon"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Caralisa Monteiro||4:49|
|3.||"Woh Ladki Hai Kahan"||Shaan, Kavita Krishnamurthy||5:06|
|4.||"Kaisi Hai Yeh Ruth"||Srinivas||5:29|
|5.||"Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe"||Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan, KK||5:46|
|6.||"Akash's Love Theme"||Michael Harvey||2:10|
|8.||"Dil Chahta Hai (Reprise)"||Shankar Mahadevan, Clinton Cerejo||4:18|
The movie is partially based on writer-director Farhan Akhtar's diaries on his trips to Las Vegas, his 1996 month-and-a-half long stay at New York City, and a storyline narrated to him by a friend. Farhan Akhtar began work on the script in 1998; the relationship of the characters Akash and Shalini was based on a similar experience of one of Akhtar's friends. Other parts of Dil Chahta Hai were adapted from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.
Initially, Akhtar wanted Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan and Akshaye Khanna in the three main roles. While Khanna agreed to do the film, Roshan and Bachchan were unavailable. Akhtar offered the part of Akash to Khanna and he offered the part of Sid to Aamir Khan. However, Khan did not want to play Sid and wanted to play Akash instead. Khanna agreed to play Sid so that Khan could play Akash. Afterwards, Saif Ali Khan joined the cast as Sameer. Preity Zinta and Sonali Kulkarni were cast as Shalini and Pooja respectively. Akhtar convinced actress Dimple Kapadia to come out of retirement to play the role of divorcée Tara Jaiswal. After 15 months of extensive pre-production, the film was shot over a four-month period in Mumbai, India and Sydney, Australia.
Dil Chahta Hai's style extended to the music and its picturisation. One song sequence recapitulates and, to some extent, parodies Bollywood song-and-dance history. Other songs drop the usual dance accompaniment — one depicts an argument between two protagonists through the song's lyrics, another establishes the character's state of mind through a moody photo collage, while yet another imagines the beautiful and idealised world of an artist in love through a song inside a painting. There is an extended opera sequence at the Sydney Opera House, which was exclusively commissioned for the film.
The film was well received by critics for portraying contemporary Indian youth as cosmopolitan and urban. The characters are depicted as upper-class with lavish houses and designer clothes. They attend art exhibitions and performances of Western opera, and travel overseas as a matter of course. Some critics opined that Dil Chahta Hai did not perform well in the non-urban areas because the lifestyle depicted was too city-oriented.
Beth Watkins of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "The mix of humour, emotion, sincerity and wisdom makes “Dil Chahta Hai” a truly enduring film." Sita Menon of Rediff.com concluded that the film was "Slick and witty".
In 2016, Akhtar stated that he had "a lot on his mind" about a sequel to Dil Chahta Hai.
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- "I have a lot on my mind about Dil Chahta Hai sequel: Farhan Akhtar". 31 August 2016.