Movie Review: KILL DIL (2014)
Director Shaad Ali has done very few films in his career, but each of his movies has resonated with me for a variety of reasons. His debut with ‘Saathiya’ was insightful for putting forth a unique love story. His follow-up with ‘Bunty Aur Babli’, followed a ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ style story about misadventures. While his last in ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ missed the mark both emotionally and conceptually, it still had trademark elements of his storytelling. ‘Kill Dil’ is no different, and while it lavishly tributes those classic spaghetti westerns with a unique Bollywood twist, it retains its focus on the characters, their emotions and how they live and love within extraordinary circumstances.
The story of ‘Kill Dil’ revolves around two best friends, found abandoned as infants by a rural gangster (why they don’t assume the infants are brothers baffles me) and are naturally raised into a life of crime. Dev, played by Ranveer Singh is the more childish of the two while Tutu is the more broody, serious type; but both share the same zest for life, as well as death. Their lifestyle has a very tacky yet charming quality; like not knowing what ‘lol’ means and riding around trying to find someone to explain it to them in context. And while these uneducated friends live it up, indulging them every step of the way is their father figure / boss, Bhaiyaji, played sweet and villainously by Govinda. The story takes a turn when Dev meets an educated and righteous girl, Disha played by Parineeti Chopra, and decides to reform for her. I never said the story was original, just unique. After some initial conflicts, the two friends decide that Dev will work a normal blue collar job selling insurance, while pretending to still be a hit man in Bhaiyaji’s eyes, as Tutu does the actual killing on both their behalves. This is to ensure that Bhaiyaji doesn’t feel betrayed, as no one really ‘quits’ this line of work, naturally. Of course their ruse doesn’t last long, which is where the 3rd act obviously goes.
‘Kill Dil’ stands out as one of my most favorite films of 2014 for a few reasons. The movie flips the typical hero archetypes into opposites, as the lovable goof Dev gets the love story, while the more somber and serious Tutu, the conventional badass, is just there as a wingman. Even the love story between Disha & Dev don’t follow typical Bollywood conventionalities, as Disha is shown to be the more dominant personality in the relationship, as Dev mostly coos and blushes. Dev’s immaturity also factors into the scene between them and Bhaiyaji, a relationship that is more parent-child than hit man-gangster. The parallels between their relationship is very much that of a parent finding out about their son’s extracurricular activities and meddling in order to prevent their son from straying down, what they consider to be, the wrong path. Govinda’s performance of an emotionally dangerous mobster really makes me wish that he would return in a leading role in a story that is more about him, rather than portray a supporting character.
Shaad Ali’s directorial style is inconsistent at best. While he excels at creating amazing cinematic shots with sweeping visuals, his more down to earth realism lacks like he’s unsure how to frame certain sequences, and the cinematography comes off amateurish. There’s also a level of melodrama to his movies that, while not necessary, doesn’t seem out of place given the outrageously parallels he draws to certain genres, like Westerns in the case of ‘Kill Dil’. Ali’s films almost always have a weak 3 act as the plot points all converge almost hurried into a resolution, which almost always doesn’t feel as satisfactory as they should, despite making sense within the story. But despite it all, Ali’s stories never get away from him as they centre around the characters, despite whatever else may be happening within the story. That being said, I could’ve done without the documentary style narration that the film began with as an unnecessary device, considering they could’ve just gone with a 3rd person narrative, as most of the songs in the movie’s Soundtrack seem to feature.
Not to be confused with Tarantino’s epic two volume masterpiece, ‘Kill Dil’ is driven to perfection by the honest and true to life performances of the 2 main leads. While not lacking in exaggeration and histrionics, the movie is grounded through these characters’ relationships in a setting that calls into question a lot more than it should. With bits of humor, silliness and unabashed wacky behavior, ‘Kill Dil’ is a fun and adventurous movie that can be enjoyed with friends, especially if you’re a fan of the director’s previous films.