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$1.9 million)|
|Box office||₹450 million (US$6.3 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 became a cult classic in India.
Akash (Aamir Khan), Sid (Akshaye Khanna) and Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) are the best of friends in college. After an eventful graduation party, they go on a trip together to Goa. Here, Sameer tries to get over an ex-girlfriend while Akash continues to escape from a previous one in whom he has lost interest. When they return, Sid bonds with Tara (Dimple Kapadia), an older woman he befriended when she moved into the neighborhood. She shares and understands his love for painting, and soon he asks her to be one of his subjects.
Meanwhile, Sameer's parents are trying to arrange his marriage with Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni), a family friend's daughter. True to character, Sameer falls in love with her at first sight but hesitates to say anything remembering his past experiences. On learning that Pooja is already in a relationship, he has to content himself with building just a friendship. On her birthday, Tara has a verbal argument on the phone with her ex-husband over their daughter. Sid finds himself trying to cheer her up by inviting her to dinner with Sameer and Akash. Afterward, he privately confesses to his friends that he has fallen in love, only for them to remind him of the age difference and the fact that Tara is a divorced alcoholic. An insensitive remark by Akash infuriates Sid and he ends up slapping him in the face. Akash departs in anger and it seems as if the two friends will never talk again.
Soon after, Akash flies to Sydney, Australia to take care of his vast family-owned business. On the plane, he meets Shalini (Preity Zinta), a girl he had asked out in jest at the college graduation. He apologizes for his prank and asks if she will show him around the new city. Shalini, who is engaged to a guy back in India, agrees. As they explore the city, Akash's playful nature puts him at odds with the violent and possessive attitude of Shalini's fiancee Rohit. At a subway station where Shalini is being gawked at by a homeless beggar, Akash diffuses the situation by hugging the man and "scaring" him away.
Meanwhile in Mumbai, Sameer's patience pays off and he asks Pooja out when she dumps her boyfriend. Sid's mother tries to breach the subject of marriage with him, only to find about his hidden feelings for Tara. Tara overhears the conversation and Sid is forced to confess his love to her, maintaining that he had never intended for her to find out and had resigned to the fact that she may never reciprocate. Tara, who has enough stressful situations in her life to deal with, is disappointed in Sid and asks him to leave. He decides to go away for some time to his uncle's farmhouse to focus on his paintings.
In Sydney, Shalini makes Akash visit the Opera for a performance of Troilus and Cressida. She intends for him to start believing in the idea of love, unknowingly making Akash realise that he is secretly in love with Shalini herself. Shalini, however, has to return to India to marry Rohit, leaving Akash distraught. Alone in his apartment, Akash mistakenly dials Sid's number intending to talk to Sameer. When he realizes his mistake, he breaks down in tears before answering a call from his father who, realizing something is amiss, asks him to come home. In India, Shalini's uncle tells Akash that while Shalini loves him back, she is intent on marrying Rohit to please his parents who had taken her in when she was left an orphan at a young age. On the eve of her wedding, Akash crashes the festivities and proposes to her. The guests are alerted and Rohit's father has a private conversation with Shalini to make sense of the turn of events. When he finds out Shalini's reason for marrying Rohit, he asks her to marry Akash instead, concluding that it is in the best interest of their son not to be involved in a forced marriage out of a false sense of debt.
In the present day, Sid has rushed Tara to the hospital for liver cirrhosis and waits for an update on her condition with Sameer at his side. Akash drops by to reconcile with Sid, only minutes before Tara dies. In her final conversation with Sid, she encourages him to stay happy and accepts that they shared a special relationship even though it was never formalized. Months later, the three friends return for a trip to Goa, this time accompanied by Shalini and Pooja. As they picnic together, Sid sees a girl at a distance, smiles and begins walking toward her. The end credits imply that he has gotten together with her and has finally moved on.
- 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.