October 18, 2002 
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Namrata, Madhavan
R D lives on in Dil Vil Pyar Vyar
Music is the soul of Anant Mahadevan's debut directorial movie

Deepa Gumaste

Dil Vil Pyar Vyar is debutant director Anant Mahadevan's tribute to R D Burman's music. And frankly, in an age where every upstart is trying to pass himself off as a 'composer' by remixing Panchamda's invaluable melodies and mauling them in the process, here is an effort that does R D's legacy proud.

The sincerity of the endeavour is there to be seen. This is not just another wannabe trying to cash in on another man's success. It is the work of a man who has put a great deal of thought in using 14 of the legendary music director's best compositions and weaving them into his story.

The story is all heart; the music is its soul. Krish (R Madhavan) and Raksha (Namrata Shirodkar) are husband and wife and strugglers looking for their first break as club singers. Raksha is picked up by a music company, becomes a star overnight, and Krish is thrilled at her success. Before long, in a replay of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Abhimaan, his own failure overwhelms her triumph and Krish finds it difficult to come to terms with it. The once happy couple starts drifting apart.

Hrithik (Jimmy Shergill), the spoilt son of a millionaire, has his own problems. He is madly in love with Jojo (Hrishita Bhatt), a level-headed girl from an ordinary family who reciprocates his feelings. She refuses to marry him till he walks out of his rich father's shadow and learns how to earn a livelihood.

Dev's (Sanjay Suri) situation is even more complicated. He is a widower who falls for his neighbour Gauri (Sonali Kulkarni), while his sister Rachna (Bhavna Pani) pines for Gauri's brother Gaurav (Rakesh Bapat). Gaurav has lost his ladylove in a motorcycle accident and has confined himself to a wheelchair and become a recluse ever since. So Gauri cannot unite with Dev till Gaurav overcomes his depression and starts leading a normal life.

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All three men have something to prove to themselves and to the women they love. And their quest for success brings them to a prestigious music competition, which offers each of them the opportunity they are looking for. But only one man can win and so the suspense builds up to a rocking climax.

The beauty of the story lies in its telling. It is the manner in which the filmmaker has infused these ordinary stories with passion and poignancy that sets Dil Vil Pyar Vyar apart from every other Hindi movie. The complexity of Krish and Raksha's relationship is treated with unusual tenderness. Equally heart-warming is Hrithik's wooing of Jojo and their playful romance. The other two couples are a few shades paler, largely because their characters haven’t been worked on as meticulously.

Bhavna Pani, Rakesh Bapat Dil Vil Pyar Vyar is sprinkled with several stirring moments. The dialogues exude the honesty of everyday life and ensure that the characters on screen connect with their audience.

Perhaps the weakest links in this innovative effort are the performances. Bhavna Pani and Rakesh Bapat are totally insipid and should definitely stop trying to act. Sanjay Suri looks good. Obviously, that is not good enough. Sonali Kulkarni tries so desperately to look good that she forgets her natural talent for acting. Hence she neither looks good nor performs with conviction.

Hrishita Bhatt is okay and Jimmy Shergill is a lot better than okay. He executes the rich playboy part with flair.

Madhavan has the most difficult role in the film and sometimes seems weighed down by it, going over-the-top in a few scenes.

Namrata Shirodkar being the most experienced member of the cast comes up with the best performance. She also carries herself with dignity, unlike the other heroines. Perhaps this film will pave the way for better roles coming her way.

The real star of the show, however, is R D Burman's music, 'recreated' by Bablu Chakraborty (isn't he the same man who was R D's assistant for several years?). Most of the songs used in the film are over 30 years old, yet their beauty defies the vagaries of time.

Sonali Kulkarni, Sanjay Suri One cannot quite imagine any Jimmy Shergill trying to duplicate Shammi Kapoor's wild frenzy in O haseena zulfonwali nor is it easy to digest Alka Yagnik's rendition of Lata Mangeshkar's melancholic Tere bina zindagi se or even Hariharan getting over enthusiastic with Kishore Kumar's Tum bin jaaon kahan.

But for a generation that has heard nothing except cheap imitations, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar is a pleasant introduction to the brilliance of R D Burman.

A word of caution here (because Hindi cinema has an irritating knack for producing me-toos): while Mahadevan has come up trumps with his novel idea of making a retro musical, he might have set a terrible precedent. Just like Bally Sagoo remixed Chura liya and opened the floodgates for three million R D Burman clones, there is a danger that this film might prompt filmmakers and music directors to start pilfering old hits at random.

Hopefully, good sense will prevail and Dil Vil Pyar Vyar remains a one-of-its-kind flick. Meanwhile, do check it out.

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