Starring Rani Mukherjee and Shahid Kapoor. Rated G.
Dil Bole Hadippa! opened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, giving it the distinction of being the first truly masala Bollywood film to have its world premiere at a North American film festival. Not a bad choice, as this movie contains all the elements that make this genre enjoyable despite a cynic’s better judgment: it’s a simple, exuberant spectacle of colour, rhythm, and romance.
Watch the trailer for Dil Bole Hadippa!
Rani Mukherjee stars as the gender-bending cricketer Veera, who dresses as a boy named Veer to play the game she loves. Shahid Kapoor plays Rohan, a diasporic Indian man from London brought back to Punjab to save his estranged father’s team from its eight-year losing streak against Pakistan in the fictitious Aman Cup. A series of endearing, though formulaic, plot points follow in which the two leads fall in love and the team readies itself for the climactic match. Mukherjee is quite charming as both the adolescent male cricketer and the spunky young woman who refuses to believe that sexism might have the power to destroy her dreams.
The film is unreservedly nationalistic, despite the premise of the cooperative sporting event, with a caricature of a nasty captain on the Pakistani team. Like many Bollywood films with supposed diasporic characters, it reifies the idea that all true desis must return to the homeland. The village setting is portrayed as idyllic, without any poverty, and a goodhearted, naive stereotype at each bullock cart.
Despite all this, there’s something disarming about this film. Perhaps it’s the catchy bhangra-inspired music or the silliness of Mukherjee’s makeup, which magically appears whenever she removes her fake beard. Regardless, there’s a chemistry that works in this film, and one might as well credit it to the film’s vaguely feminist subtext.