If you grew up in an Indian household, chances are you must have heard the story that started with ‘Ek tha Raja.. Ek thi Rani…’’. As we grew up, we were exposed to many stories in the form of books, movies, and with that our aspirations evolved. We started connecting with stories that had superheroes, wizarding worlds, fancy big banners, and in the process we lost touch with simplistic stories. A similar message is conveyed in the opening scene of Dil Bechara, the late Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film, which was released on Disney+ Hotstar & HotstarUSA on July 24th 2020.
Dil Bechara is an Indian romantic drama directed by casting guru turned filmmaker Mukesh Chhabra in which Kizie Basu (Sanjana Sanghi) and Immanuel ‘Manny’ Rajkumar Junior (Late. Sushant Singh Rajput) are the main protagonists. Manny, who suffered from osteosarcoma and is in remission, is making a movie with his friend Jagdish ‘JP’ Pandey (Sahil Vaid), who is suffering from eye cancer. Manny meets Kizie Basu, suffering from thyroid cancer in a cancer support group. Smitten by Kizie, Manny asks Kizie to be the female lead in their movie. As their relationship blossoms, we witness a wonderful albeit short-lived love story knowing very well that it is destined to have an ill-fated end.
Based on John Green’s novel ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, Dil Bechara isn’t the first adaptation of the book. In 2014, 20th Century Fox optioned the rights of the book and released a film with the same name ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ casting Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. In 2014, Fox STAR Studios made an announcement for an Indian remake. From an adaptation point of view, Mukesh Chhabra has done a decent job of showcasing the story in an Indian setting.
It was very difficult to watch this movie with an objective view. Moreso because in many ways, this movie had many synchronicities with what transpired in real life. We see someone telling Manny, “Khud ko marna illegal hai (It is illegal to commit suicide)”. In this movie, we also see Manny make a comment that “I want to attend my own funeral (mere marne ke baad) waise mujhe pata hai ki, main bhoot banke baithunga” (After I die, I’ll be sitting right here as a ghost). It was also a strange occurrence that in the film, Manny could not see the film that he made and in real life, Sushant could not see this film (Dil Bechara). Setting aside these strange occurrences, this movie is also a testimony to how good an actor Sushant was. Not only did he portray the character in its truest essence, but also nailed the shoot of the title track in a single take after rehearsing for just one day. Sushant Singh was complemented well by Sanjana Sanghi, who was a revelation as Kizie Basu.
This movie also made me realize that even though most of Sushant Singh’s roles were not for a big banner production, he did give his best in each of them.And as an audience member, I cannot ask more from an actor. His untimely death should serve as a reminder to appreciate simplistic stories for the beauty of their content, and not judge the quality of cinema by big banner labels.
I think I speak for everyone here at AVS when I say… you will be dearly missed Sushant!
Reviewed by Puneet Ruparel