Some people have gone so far as to state that we all evolved through one man, Adam, while others categorically claim that we all came down from no man at all, but only from the monkeys. While such basics are yet to be settled, Dil Jo Bhi Kahey tries to make a case for a love story involving participants from the same species - Jai and Sophie.
Jai Sinha (Karan Sharma) and Sophie Besson (Annabelle Wallace) are studying hotel management and love dynamics at Stockholm - unaware that between genesis and now, humans have already invented religions which forbid their love.
Back home in Mauritius, Sophie and Jai decide to surprise their families - one purely White, and another saffronly Hindu. In an impromptu and disastrous dinner arrangement, the Sinhas are invited over to the Besson mansion - a fiasco that gathers energy on its way, rolls into a cyclone, and ultimately wipes out all hopes of a reconciliation between the two families.
Now, sociologists have gone hoarse stating the fact that the inter-cultural differences in people are a schism in comparision to the potholes of differences between any two different cultures. Also, anthropologists swear by their homos that people living in a geographic region, irrespective of their religions, are more similar to each other than co-religionists living far apart.
Sandhya Sinha (Revathy), Jai's mom, being a proud vermillon-in-the-maang housewife, never cared to read all this stuff, which anyway would have confused her as much as it did us. Cradled in the protective arms of her loving husband Shekhar (Amitabh Bachchan), she subscribes to the musings of another famous thinker: East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.
Norman Besson, Sophie's dad, while still basking in his ancestors' achievements (which included enslaving and making the colonial Indians as miserable as humanly possible), is however well-read. He fully conforms to the concept of a superior race, as long as Whites are included in it.
Shekhar Sinha, displaying that he is certainly more evolved from the monkeys than the rest of the cast, plays numerous roles. He is a pacifier to Norman, a loving protective husband to Sandhya, and a friend to Jai. That he fails on most counts, is due to the entrenched biased nature of the two grownups, and his own laissez faire attitude towards his home affairs.
Jai and Sophie now try their hand at getting married - a task put to a stop by Sandhya's timely heart-attack and slow recovery. Post attack, Sandhya beams with healthy satisfaction at ultimately turning her son into a jerk, as Jai drops Sophie like a hot brick. Sandhya sets Jai's marriage up with her own doctor, played by Bhoomika Chawla, who is a walking ad of a desirable Indian bahu - beautiful yet modest, earning yet homely, traditional yet 21...
Jai agrees to this very Indian union, and only by a quirk of fate, is rescued into the arms of his Sophie. The movie culminates with Sophie's family sporting a tilak, and Sandhya timorously holding a glass of champagne - with both sides helpless, yet not quite reconciled to the changing times.
Dil Jo Bhi Kahey introduces Karan, Romesh Sharma's son, while re-introducing the age-old topic of forbidden love. It looks at inter-culture union and the resistance to it, with a microscopic perspective, at a level where the community is not radically involved. It even digresses into the happily-ever-after life of such couples and their kids, leaving various questions unanswered.
While the plot, the story and the acting, especially by British actor Annabelle Wallace, are remarkable, the movie has a persistent voice-over taking over wherever the dialogues go into English, which is more than 3/4th of the script.
The Big B can only grow bigger with time, and with DJBK, he has revealed the many nuances, the many shades of a character, which perhaps only a handful other actors could have done. Karan, towering over Amitabh, is quite scary, especially since he himself looks scared and out of tune in front of the Big B. Revathy is brilliant as the stubborn, narrow-minded and helpless God- and society-fearing woman.
While the Hindi translation-cum-narration gives the movie a documentary crudeness, Shankar Ehsan Loy's songs, cinematographed on the sultry Annabelle amidst the best of the Mauritian beaches, give it the required polish. Loaded with emotions, but yet not an SRK-style drama, DJBK makes a cautious watch with its message - change is best done in small steps.