Dr Gopa Nayak is a writer and an academician. She can be contacted at gopanayak[at]gmail.com.
I thought a few times, if not a hundred, before I wrote this, out of apprehension that the movie does not deserve an hour of critical analysis. However, in the end, what prompted me to write this was the topic of love and friendship which this movie has dealt with, albeit miserably. This topic could not be more relevant at a time when interaction between members of the opposite sex is becoming the norm of the day, at least for some sections of the society. The need of the hour is a bit of clarity in the interpretation of love and friendship which is often mired when it is between members of the opposite sex. The meaning of love changes its colour under the garb of friendship which has a much wider brush and has the capacity to cover all the fine distinctions between love and friendship resulting in a lot of miscommunication.
Although the movie- Ae dil hai mushkil- is all over the place it will definitely ring a bell with youngsters. The pub hopping in locations of London and Vienna suggests that the movie is meant to cater to a specific section of the society. The interaction between the members of the opposite sex is happening in more intimate ways than ever in this section of society. Girls are expressing themselves more vocally than their mothers or even their sisters did and expecting their emotions to be heeded and honoured. Boys are also openly enjoying this intimacy with girls never imagined by their parents and even their elder sibling’s generation. All this has been portrayed in a manner which will appeal to a certain section of young movie going crowd. Where the movie has failed is perhaps in driving home the nuances of this love friendship dichotomy from a gender perspective.
The fact remains that a conceptual understanding of love and friendship when someone from the opposite sex is involved is not simple. Sending the message that- ‘I am fine talking to you and sharing my sorrows and problems with you but not having sex with you’- is no easy task for any human being be it man or woman. In any close friendship, manifestations of relationship protocols take over the simple dynamics of effective communication. ‘You can admire me and like my company but that does not automatically lead to taking you to my bed’- This is never a simple message to be communicated to a friend. Some can understand and accept it; others can understand and express it; while others may not be aware of it. The movie has portrayed the many nuances of this friendship but failed miserably by focusing more on the process than on the message.
There has been an attempt in the movie to display the emotions of love and friendship from a gender perspective. Although this is not effectively portrayed in the movie, the actor has done a decent job in conveying the message of a patriarchal mindset. It takes a lot of effort to make a boy (sometimes over-aged) understand that when a girl is talking to you nicely or is affectionate she is not sending the signal that she wants to sleep with you. Women are perhaps a bit finicky when it comes to taking someone to bed. On the other hand, when it comes to showing their affection or even compassion they are perhaps more adept than men. Moreover, girls or rather women by nature are very inconsistent in everything, more so with men. Women may like someone today; and they wake up tomorrow and think- ‘No, he is not for me’. This can happen to men as well but I think men take more time to take such decisions. I write this as a woman and this view may not be representative of all women in every society.
In the movie Anushka plays the role of this woman who is serious in love and sensitive in friendship. She is very friendly with one guy but wants to marry another guy who according to her is too handsome and hence irresistible. The attitude of the women towards each other for a change has not been depicted with any animosity in the movie. Anushka does not feel any jealousy towards the woman with whom her friend is living. The role of Aishwarya as a poetess does not go with her jeans-clad attire although her bewitching beauty serves to compensate it all. However, all these varied emotions are not dealt with adequately in the movie. The climax of irritation happens with the depiction of cancer.
At the end of the three hours of yawns and lyrical stepping of feet, I had to acknowledge that the movie has made an attempt to deal with gender differences on the very important theme of love and friendship. However, I was convinced that all discussion on artists, extortion of money, army and donations were nothing but publicity stunts to get the movie some attention. I must confess the publicity or something around it has made me watch the movie and write this piece – ‘Dil is really a mushkil thing’.