Review: Dil Kabaddi
Guest Blogger: Abhimanyu Goel
Hindi cinema is generally considered lacking in nuance when dealing with the theme of infidelity and Anil Senior’s Dil Kabaddi is a fine example of this inability to deal with the issue in a sophisticated and subtle manner.
Irfann Khan, in an interview, stated the film is about the ‘kabaddi‘ that love makes an individual’s heart play. The game involves tagging an a player of the opposing team and returning to one’s playing side while avoiding being tackled by the opposing team. Completely lacking in irony, the film plays ‘kabaddi’ with a serious and adult issue like infidelity, barely touching the surface before running as far away as possible from it in the name of humour and entertainment. It should probably be labeled as a sex-com as we get badly defined characters who are sexually frustrated, something the viewer is constantly reminded of and crass humour with some poor editing, writing, acting, direction… the agony never ends.
As is the practice with films on such ‘bold’ themes, we are shown two yuppies Mumbai couples in lush locations , completely self-obsessed and as confused as the viewer about their marital problems. The characters in this film are unhappy with their relationship, and sex — or the lack of it — seems to be the main reason though we never figure out if it is the sole reason. We are none the wiser. Secondly, throughout the movie, the characters address the viewers directly at various points, discussing their opinions about the other characters in the film. This is a gimmick which could have been used to give the viewer various points of views about the couples in question and their problems. Sadly, the director uses this gimmick to show the viewer how confused and emotionally vacant the characters of this film are, something I am sure was very unintentional. Also, the viewer does not know who the characters are talking to, a friend, a marriage counsellor, the audience; it is a mystery not really worth solving.
The movie meanders along as each of the characters deal with their insecurities and feelings of infidelity, but the screenplay, direction and acting are so uninspired that this viewer kept wondering where the movie was headed. An extremely talented actor like Irfann Khan is completely wasted in the role of a sex addict who leaves his wife and shacks up with his aerobics instructor. His character is shown undergoing a complete wardrobe change because he wants to look and sexy for his new ‘playmate.’ If his character was middle-aged then his yearning for a younger ‘playmate’ would have been more credible but for a 30-something Mumbai yuppie, which is what his character is in the movie, Irfann’s character comes across as plain ludicrous. Irfann Khan seems to be getting typecast in roles that resemble the one he did in Life In A Metro. Soha Ali Khan, as his disgruntled wife is extremely irritating, but that, to be fair, is a fault of the scriptwriter for creating such a shallow character. In fact, all the characters in the film are extremely shallow and have no depth. Konkona Sen Sharma seems to be sleepwalking through her role and Rahul Bose is stuck with one expression, as always.
The film, or the script to be precise, does not try to enter the psyche of these couples to explain the reasons for their insecurities, something which would have enabled this viewer to relate and empathise with the characters.