Dil Bechara: The last goodbye to Sushant

Two years ago, when first news broke of an official Indian remake being made of John Green’s immensely popular young adult fiction The Fault in our Stars, Indian audiences were almost unanimous in their premature verdict of the film that hadn’t even released: A sasti copy. Most, if not all, were very sceptical about the casting for the film as well. Sushant Singh Rajput to play the fan-favourite Augustus Waters did not bode well for old fans. Also, the actress Sanjana Sanghi was practically a newcomer who only had a minor role in Imtiaz Ali’s 2011 mega-hit Rockstar. Social media was flooded with comments about how big a flop the movie will be, how nobody who was a fan of the original will watch this remake. Cut to 2020 when the film finally releases to a first day opening collection of nearly Rs. 2000 crores. Just on its first day, Dil Bechara broke a number of records and attracted 95 million views within the first 24 hours. So many victories but there was nothing to celebrate really.

Everyone knows why the film has garnered such incredible numbers and that, if circumstances had been different none of these feats would have happened, not by a long shot. I wish I could say that people judge too early without even giving a proper chance, but after watching the movie I could do nothing but silently agree with all the previous sentiments. Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has taken on a life of its own. With so many conspiracy theories swirling around and media-persons being their most insensitive, disgusting selves regarding the entire situation watching this movie was a very difficult experience.

The film directed by Mukesh Chhabra is, to put it mildly, not great. It’s an extremely emotional watch for obvious reasons, but the script fails pathetically. Sushant Singh Rajput plays Emmanuel Rajkumar Junior with real flair and as close to the original character as you could hope for in a Bollywood film. His charming, confident and vulnerable portrayal of the lead makes you see glimpses of his actual self, or at least how he publicly was. Certain parts of the film I had to pause to take a breather because it got too much. As a fan of the book as well as the original film, I loved his portrayal and the way he carried half the film throughout its run. Sanjana Sanghi carried the other half. I was not convinced with her when I watched the trailer but watching the film changed my mind. Sanghi is a blooming, fragrant flower in an otherwise barren film. She has immense potential and given the right kind of script could do wonders.

Dil Bechara has a lot of continuity issues and the overall execution of the film becomes unbearable at times, especially in the first half. The highlight of the film is AR Rahman’s magic music. The atmosphere that he creates with his music elevates the film to another level. That’s the thing about Rahman’s music. You could feel a certain way if you watch a film sans his music and when you watch it with his music, your perspective becomes a lot layered, making you realise previously missed details. If I could compare, he and Hans Zimmer are very alike in that respect of creating haunting atmospheric scores. With Dil Bechara he works that magic again, making the emotional aspects overwhelming at times and at others, easing your taut chest for some relief.

The only reason good enough to watch this film is Sushant Singh Rajput, as a mark of respect to him but also for his truly wonderful performance. In fact, all the actors were remarkable, but there’s only so much they could do with such bad writing. Watch it for the performances and watch it for Sushant. That’s what I did, although I tried very hard to not go into it with any presumptions. Regardless, ultimately the film was nothing but a lot of wasted potential with some unforgettable music.

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