Adventures in Bollywood: “Dil Se”
Manisha Koirala and Shahrukh Khan in
Dil Se; click to enlarge
Will the callow young reporter from Radio India (box office heartthrob Shahrukh Khan) flow with convention or follow his passion toward an uncertain destiny? Dil Se (1998) is a political romantic drama about impulse destroying those who wander from accepted norms — a familiar Bollywood theme, where prearranged marriages and regimented family values are offered as safeguards from the misery of longing for something you’ll never have. The object of his affection is Manisha Koirala playing an elusive, demure mystery figure secretly tied to destructive forces; while the family has him slated to marry Preity Zinta’s handsome but less intriguing hausfrau in waiting. She talks a good game about being a liberated female in India, but it doesn’t prevent her from modestly calling sexual intercourse “hunka bunka hunks.” That may sound ludicrous, but writer-director Mani Ratnam recognizes such subtly distinct quirks that enrich characters. He also has an elaborate dance number set on top of a moving train. This isn’t MGM in the 50s; this is a real train on real tracks covering real ground… where the twenty or thirty dancers could go flying if the conductor jams on the brakes for any reason.
Available from Amazon.