Cast: Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Omi Vaidya, shraddha das, Shazahn Padamsee, Shruti Haasan
Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar
With Gulzar's beautiful song as its title, "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" (DTBHJ) surely gets one curious about what to expect. And while Madhur-reality-Bhandarkar venturing into rom-coms reminds you of the 'stuck-in-the-wrong-job' ad, he just about manages to pass here.
The film, as the promos suggest, is about three guys with varying amounts of testosterone, in search of love and lust. Naren Ahuja (Ajay Devgn), a divorced bank manager is still hopeful for a second innings. Milind Kelkar (Omi Vaidya), a self-confessed virgin is cautious of opening his innings only when he finds true love (yawn!). Abhay (Emraan Hashmi) is like an omnibus of all the characters that Hashmi has played in his previous films (they're all the same-a smooth talking slime ball). Naren invites the other two into his giant family home as tenants and to keep him from sinking into post-divorce loneliness. The trio breezes through the film by taunting, encouraging and even consoling each other over their respective love lives (yet too flippant for a "Chashme Baddoor" comparison).
The ladies in this film are hardly inspiring but are luckily marginalized by the leading men. Naren's female interest is his office intern, June Pinto (Shazahn Padamsee) who is squeaky, supremely enthusiastic and sums up to be quite annoying. The obvious age gap between this couple is conveyed by Naren's fumbling attempt at singing, dancing and drinking (which are the only determinants of youth?). It's also twisted that Devgn looks carefully chiseled, while (the supposedly 21-year-old) Shazahn has a million wrinkles marching around her wincing eyes each time she smiles (and she smiles at everything!).
Milind, on the other hand, doesn't have an age divide with his poetic muse RJ Gungun Sarkar (Shraddha Das), who he has a chance meeting with. But Gungun's obnoxiously shallow character manages to suck Milind dry. While the sharpest of the three, Abhay, predictably, manages to get around with a dozen women. The ones with sufficient dialogues include Anushka Narang (Tisca Chopra), an industrialist's trophy wife and her daughter Nikki Narang (Shruti Haasan), an heiress devoted to social causes (how imaginative!).
It's refreshing that DTBHJ strays away from Bollywood cliches, especially the way the three love stories conclude. No one has a change of heart or realizes their partner's true worth eventually. Ajay Devgn's earnest attempt at comedy is laudable (after Golmaal, there seemed little hope). Omi has his highs and lows but his idiotic manner of speech (courtesy 3 Idiots) fails to impress or amuse here. Emraan, for lack of anything else, could've kissed a few more women (as his fans usually have a single-point agenda for catching his movies). Telegu actress, Shraddha Das' screen presence justifies her character's career choice (being on radio and off screen). Shruti Haasan is a screen delight and resembles her mother Sarika characteristically.
Some dialogues in DTBHJ might induce a smile but it would iron out quickly (unlike Shazahn's wrinkles). The screenplay is fairly tight, but you might check your watch about 15 minutes before half time, hoping for an interval. Pritam's songs aren't worthy of humming or even finger drumming.
While Bhandarkar just might get away with this one, let's just hope this doesn't inspire other directors to jump out of their comfort genres. I mean we don't want KJo attempting the next sci-fi thriller, right?
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