Dil Bechara Review: Sushant Singh Rajput’s Last Performance and the Movie’s Poignant Message is Lost in its Dull Writing

3.0 rating based on 1,234 ratings

There’s no easy way to review Dil Bechara. Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise has affected us all in more ways than one, and the current pandemic has heightened our need, as a human race, to be sensitive towards each other. We live in divisive times ridden with political violence and uncertainty and movies, now more than ever, have become our solace from a frightening world. However, this does not exempt them from being viewed critically or judged based on their cinematic quality. Dil Bechara must be appreciated for its worth and critiqued for its flaws.

Adapted from John Green’s bestselling book The Fault in Our Stars, which was remade into a Hollywood film of the same name starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, Dil Bechara has been rewritten to fit the Indian context. Directed by Mukesh Chhabra, the film stars Sushant Singh Rajput as Immanuel ‘Manny’ Rajkumar , Sanjana Sanghi as Kizie Basu, Sahil Vaid, Swastika Mukherjee, Saswata Chatterjee and Saif Ali Khan. The book by John Green was everywhere back in 2012 and I, like many other 14 year olds, was drawn to it. It was philosophical enough for a teenager without requiring much thinking or social understanding, and revolved around a love story that was equally heart-warming and shattering. The book, and movie, is catered to a younger audience who enjoys glorifying love. Of course, the tragedy that befalls the starry-eyed lovers is cancer, a merciless disease that takes without ever giving. The Fault in Augustus and Hazel’s Stars is that they were destined to meet, love, but only briefly before leaving the world.

Dil Bechara strips down the grandiosity of the book’s dramatic, philosophical, difficult romance, and makes it yet another cheesy Bollywood movie about two star-crossed lovers who are not meant to be. This has nothing to do with the star talent — Sushant’s Manny does great justice to the charismatic Augustus and Sanjana Sanghi’s Kizie is intelligent and funny and wry and cynical, much like Hazel Grace. However, everyone around them is just another stock character, thus wasting the complexities that could be extracted from talents like Swastika Mukherjee and Saswata Chatterjee. Saif Ali Khan, however, makes a jarring, stunning performance in one short scene as the disillusioned musician who is, frankly, a dick. His casual cruelty towards the young couple is infuriating and chilling, making their love story that much brighter, that much more important and positive.

Ultimately, Dil Bechara disappoints because it drives the ‘charm’ factor into overkill. Manny’s charms are a bit over-the-top and JP’s presence for comic relief is far too on the nose. The movie starts in a school/college that is then left behind, and although Jamshedpur’s beauty is refreshing and picturesque, the film fails to really connect with the space around. And the love story is far too predictable to be gut-wrenching, to crawl under the audience’s skin and settle there, forcing them to understand the depth and intensity of young, tragic romance. Kizie and Manny do share great chemistry and Rahman’s music definitely infuses a youthful air to the film, but it doesn’t leave the audience with much to hold onto. Rajput’s other films, like Kai Po Che, Sonchiriya, even Kedarnath, were gripping enough to stay with the audience a while. His talent was of great scale, but Dil Bechara seems to have straitjacketed him into being the typical, extroverted, bold, daring Hindi film hero.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was such a hit among young adults because it was perfect amounts accessible to all and yet urged teenagers to think deeply and comprehend more complex concepts of the futility of human life and the inevitability of death. Dil Bechara does none of that. Instead, it gives us a digestable Bollywood love story that has all the talent but none of the good writing to really anchor the narrative.

However, Dil Bechara provides some comfort to those of us still grieving the late and loved Sushant Singh Rajput. It is his last hurrah, his way of staying with the audience for a little while longer. To quote John Green from The Fault in Our Stars, “and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

Love may be just a shout into the void and oblivion may be inevitable, but we can never forget the beauty of Sushant Singh Rajput. That’s love, too. And we, as an audience, love him.

Dil Bechara is available to watch on Disney+ Hotstar

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