Of Cricket And Bhangra

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By Vivek Nityananda

DIL BOLE HADIPPA begins with a great challenge. Veera (Rani Mukherjee) wants to play cricket and unashamedly asks why she should play in a women’s team. If she’s good enough to hit six sixes in six balls off any man’s bowling why can’t she play with the boys? She really is that good, although we never see any evidence of her struggling to achieve her skills, as if batting were a magical talent she accidentally discovered somewhere between the dance floor and the stream where she washes clothes. However, the times being what they are, she can’t get past the gate of the selection grounds unless she reaches into her make-up box (she works in a dance/theatre company) and reconstructs herself as Veer Pratap Singh, her bearded male counterpart.

Veer, being male, is not subjected to a gender test and is hired to be part of Rohan Singh’s (Shahid Kapoor) team, a big-name county cricket player from London. The team’s aim is to win the Aman Cup, prize for a match between India and Pakistan organised each year. India has lost the Cup ever since the matches started and Rohan must now win it with the help of Veer, and yes, the rest of the team as well. Veer, incidentally, seems to take the idea of cricket being a religion a tad too seriously.

When the screenplay tires of cricket, it decides — at the drop of a dupatta — to launch into a little bit of song and dance. Luckily for Rohan, who gets a chance to meet and flirt with Veera instead of dragging Veer around the pitch. There’s also a quick retrospective of Bollywood scenes from the 1990s in a botched attempt at injecting some situational comedy into the proceedings. And just when we thought we’ve got all the tracks under control, we get the reclaiming of the errant NRI as another complication. The father, Vikramijit Singh (Anupam Kher), puts Veera on the job and Rohan is soon seduced by both India and Veera. The movie can now return to the Aman Cup and Veer can hit the field again. Stay tuned for the ending where you can avail of a recap of famous women in Indian history as a feminism-for-beginners round-up to the affair.

This is a movie plagued by predictability and battered to death by bhangra beats. The straightforward comedy track lies mangled by everything else the script tries to pack in. There are messages galore but the morals come out too pat. Or should that be bat?

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