"What matters it if you win the world and lose your soul?" asks the
Bible. In our dog-eat-dog world, the Word would get re-interpreted as, "It
matters if you lose the world and to hell with the soul". "Dil Pe Mat
Le Yaar" is a brilliant analysis of this malaise that is contemporary India.
Cast in the mould of "Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman" and "Hero Hiralal",
the film depicts the tribulations of a country cousin in the big bad metro. Unlike
these two films, however, "Dil Pe..." does not allow its hero easy escape
routes that help him retain his integrity and innocence. Rather a la "Satya",
the grim storyline follows the fall of a good man caught in bad times.
Ramsharan Pandey (Manoj Bajpai) is a skilled mechanic. Fresh from Jaunpur, this
innocence incarnate cannot even dream of any illegal or incorrect deed, and is
somehow managing in the wicked world that life in a Bombay garage is. One day
he helps Kamya (Tabu) fix her car. She finds his unusual character fascinating.
She writes any number of articles on him, which gets her a chance to write the
screenplay of a film based on his life. Gregarious by nature and impressed by
his goodness, she is friendliness itself.
Thrown out of job for his sincerity, Ramsharan is hurt when Kamya's future director
blasts her for a supposedly inept play. In a drunken stupor, he makes a scene
at Kamya's place and loses that mooring to a misunderstanding. When he realizes
that Kamya has her own love life, he is shattered. As per the advice of the corrupt
Tito, a tout, he decides to go Dubai. For the passport, though, he needs money.
Cheated by his former boss, the garage owner, he has now no other go but to turn
to crime. Tito's violent boss wants him to be an expert "supari".
Indeed worth a watch, the film is a brilliant critique of the dehumanization of
life in a modern metro, especially when Bharat meets India in the "join them
if you can't beat them" spirit. In such a set-up, everything is a barter
and everybody is a ladder. No relationship is sacrosanct, while truth is mere
perspective. For Kamya who began with the analysis of the Ramsharan phenomenon
as a search for the innate innocence hidden behind all the city masks, his self
soon dwindles down to a screenplay that can fetch her an award. In that chase
as guided by a famous director, Mahesh Bhatt, how does it matter what happens
to her original, optimistic message?
In fact, on one level, the film gives you a feel of what it is to fictionalize
lives, be it newspaper articles or films. And when exactly does the set formula
overtake the lived reality? And in such a world, what is life? Material for exploitation?
And what happens to your "subject" once you have squeezed it dry, what
with a prize added to your booty? The film self-reflexively raises such pertinent
questions about our era that's obsessed with re-presentations and packaging.
Backed by a stellar performance by Bajpei, ably supported by Tabu's cameo, the
film boasts of a wonderful sound design. The background music shows us the power
of unstated silences very lyrically, while the songs are uniquely presented. In
fact, initially the film gives the feel of a musical interspersed with a zany
comedy. Later somehow - what with a mix-up of psychological analysis, gory sadistic
violence et al - the genre gets diluted and the focus gets blurred, proving once
again how central tight scriptwriting and editing are to effective film-making.
A must watch film, if you are the type who flips for intelligent entertainment.