Home Indian Movies Readers Write In #569: Dil Chahta Hai: Narrators and Recollections

Readers Write In #569: Dil Chahta Hai: Narrators and Recollections

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Readers Write In #569: Dil Chahta Hai: Narrators and Recollections

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By Kartik Iyer

Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai launched in 2001. I used to be three years previous. My household went to observe it. They took me alongside. Watching the movie is one among my earliest recollections as a human being. I keep in mind my response to the movie even in the present day.

Contained in the theatre in 2001, I keep in mind being completely confused throughout the first 10 minutes. I noticed three folks speaking about one thing. I had no clue they had been Akshaye Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, and Aamir Khan. To me, they had been simply three dudes. However immediately, I noticed a automobile’s tire braking in entrance of a home. An previous woman opened the door to the home and two dudes, who had been simply now speaking on the cellphone in separate homes, rushed inside asking about somebody. Moments later, they enter a room and I see the acquainted face of the bald man from the hospital. However what was he doing right here with a paint brush? What is going on?

To the three-year-old Kartik, the opening of Dil Chahta Hai was completely incomprehensible. Years later, which means solely 3-4 years in the past once I watched it correctly in a single go, did I notice that it was a flashback.

The opening shot of the film is an ambulance dashing on the highway. That’s Sid taking Tara to a hospital as a result of she is critically unwell. He waits within the ready room and calls Sameer, who calls Aakash. Then Sameer drives to the hospital. That’s when the aforementioned tire braking shot cuts in. What I didn’t notice then was that that is presumably Sameer wanting again in time. We have now reduce from the present timeline of Tara dying within the hospital and Sameer driving to her, to a different timeline that’s occurring solely inside Saif Ali Khan’s head. So, we now have a ‘actual’ occasion occurring whereas concurrently there’s a ‘reminiscence’ being performed out. There’s goal actuality and there’s a subjective actuality. Transferring on.

The scene inside Sid’s home ends with a candy slow-motion shot of the three mates leaping on high of one another, after which we reduce contained in the hospital following Sameer. He meets up with Sid and exchanges pleasantries. Life updates are shared. Then Sid asks a few woman that had a crush on Aakash. He asks. Subsequently, once we shortly reduce to the shot of the woman inside a disco, we are able to presume that that is Sameer telling him the identify of the woman. However we don’t see Sameer saying something. We straight transfer to an area and time the place the woman is current, and so are all the fellows. We have now moved to a different timeline. Is that this the identical timeline because the earlier one the place Sameer was excited about the gang having enjoyable in Sid’s condominium? Is it, due to this fact, the identical subjective actuality we now have entered, the one which exists inside the pinnacle of Sameer? His reminiscence?

That is essential to Dil Chahta Hai as a result of while you consider the film from this angle, you begin to assume that the film is presumably, for probably the most half, a reminiscence. That begs the query: whose reminiscence?

For the following 90 minutes of the film, we stay in a subjective actuality. We aren’t within the timeframe that was first launched to us, the one contained in the hospital. We’re in a distinct one the place the gang has gone to Goa, Sid has met Tara, and many others (what is usually probably the most enjoyable a part of the film). Then Sid slaps Aakash and we now have the intermission. We return to the hospital instantly after intermission and Sameer is the one speaking. As soon as once more, we are able to presume he has been speaking all this time. He tells Sid what he did after the night time Sid slapped Aakash. We reduce to that different timeframe. For a really very long time after that, we’re in Australia; by then my three-year-old mind had presumably given up and fallen asleep.

I keep in mind being awake across the time of the opera the place Aakash has a stirring second. The white folks on stage are singing one thing in a language I can’t perceive. After which immediately, I see bizarre pictures which can be of a distinct color. I refer now to the sequence the place Aakash sees Shalini in his thoughts’s eye, realizing that he loves her.

My query, once I watched the film lately, was this: by this level within the film, who the fuck is narrating the story? Simply earlier than that opera scene, I used to be in India following what Sameer and Sid are as much as. After which I see this bizarre fucking sequence of photographs of what Aakash is seeing inside his head. What on the planet is happening?

Simply to wrap it up, we keep in Australia, and that subjective actuality, till practically the top. We transfer again to the hospital. Sid asks Sameer a query. And Sameer replies. As soon as once more, we are able to presume Sid is responding to what Sameer was saying. Then, just for the second time within the film, we see Aakash within the goal actuality, within the ‘actual’ timeframe of the film. He’s at his residence, he drives, mysteriously sees himself with Sid and Sameer on the entrance of the school in the course of the day, after which meets up with Sid and Sameer on the hospital. At that time, the alternate, subjective timeline involves an finish. We follow the one and solely timeline after that. And the film involves an finish.

Did I simply now make Dil Chahta Hai appear to be a particularly sophisticated film? Effectively, it’s!

I’ll now reply the questions I’ve requested. Firstly, there are three main characters and 5-odd secondary characters. Let’s neglect the secondary ones. Now the best way the film is set-up, there’s a clear indication that nothing you see outdoors of the hospital for 95% of the film is going on in real-time, just because two folks can’t be at completely different locations on the identical time; duh. So, what is going on? The primary time we moved away from the present timeline was when Sameer was reminiscing in his automobile. Okay. So, the primary alternate timeline that was established was of Sameer’s reminiscence. Then we now have Sid and Sameer speaking about their previous. Sid asks Sameer a query after which we transfer to the disco scene, and the remainder of the 90 minutes earlier than intermission. Apparently, Sid is asking Sameer a query earlier than we bounce to that disco. So, did Sameer reply the query? Naturally. Why gained’t he? That dialog will need to have moved on. However we don’t see them speaking, can we? So, how can we make sure? We are able to’t. However we are able to guess that it did. As a result of we (and Sid?) acquired the reply to the query within the type of that disco scene.

Earlier I requested, is that this a distinct timeframe? Or can we instinctively presume that that is as soon as once more Sameer sharing his reminiscence? It’s the latter. Or else, the film wouldn’t have labored. Due to the question-answer nature of the dialog the place it’s Sameer who’s filling within the particulars, and the truth that we now have already been inside Sameer’s head, we mechanically settle for this actuality because the one inside Sameer’s head. Subsequently, based mostly on these observations, the conclusion is that 95% of Dil Chahta Hai is only one dude’s reminiscence. And that dude is Sameer performed by Saif Ali Khan. Sameer is the narrator of Dil Chahta Hai.

What makes the film very complicated is that no matter occurs within the second half, particularly the entire of Aakash’s arc in Australia and Sid’s arc with Tara, Sameer isn’t current with them. This occurs usually within the first half too. No matter we see and listen to is mainly Sameer’s reminiscence of the occasions. Or worse, no matter Sameer was advised. For instance: Aakash’s stirring second contained in the opera. How the hell did Sameer know? Aakash should’ve advised him. So, Sameer is telling Sid what Aakash advised him about what he noticed in his thoughts’s eye contained in the opera in Australia roughly two years in the past. Rashomon my ass!

I state all of this for one easy cause: if 95% of Dil Chahta Hai is Sameer’s reminiscence and its narration to Sid, what are the possibilities that both Sid or Aakash have a distinct story to inform? What if the rosy, comforting feeling that you just get whereas watching the film is as a result of the man who suffered the least is narrating the story? And if Sameer was not current in giant sections of his mates’ lives, how properly does he know what occurred?

The large, unhappy fact is that no matter occurred in Dil Chahta Hai presumably didn’t occur that means. How completely different would the story be if Aakash had been the narrator? Or Sid? The place and the way would the subjective timeline start?

Suppose the opening ambulance and name scene stays the identical. The best way it’s, after the decision we bounce to Sameer and see his reminiscence play out on display. Suppose we stayed with Aakash and noticed his reminiscence play out. Would the next scene, due to this fact bounce into the subjective actuality, be Aakash getting slapped by Sid? Suppose we stick with Sid after the decision. What is going to he take into consideration? What is going to we see? Dil Chahta Hai won’t be the identical with out Sameer. Take him out of the equation and the entire film will flip on its head.

What could be very peculiar to me is that I didn’t consider any of this earlier than. I’ve been watching Dil Chahta Hai for 22 years now. I’ve grown up with it. I’ve dreamt and aspired for a life and mates like Sid, Sameer and Aakash. However by no means as soon as did I believe that the film is presumably a sham, a fraud because it’s mainly one man’s reminiscence. Assume Memento.

Now that I consider it, did Dil Chahta Hai invent a brand new type of youth aspiration? One that’s unquestionably cool, with out the boring elements. The final shot of the film has the three mates and their companions having a drink and a few meals across the desk. At present, all of us stay that life. Or was Dil Chahta Hai merely fortunate in tapping into what was occurring at a mass degree, and a private degree with Farhan Akhtar? Maybe each. For a film to grow to be that iconic, I suppose you want some luck in your facet.

Is the romanticism related to the film threatened by this? I don’t know. But it surely certain as hell makes me assume. It brings to thoughts that well-known Don Draper dialogue from Mad Males: “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, however potent”.

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