October Issue 2009

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 15 years ago

Rani Mukherjee comes to the screen again in gaudy rural garb (à la Bubbly from Bunty aur Bubbly) as Veera, chasing big dreams in a small village in Indian Punjab. In Dil Bole Hadippa, she is determined to become the world champion cricket batsman. Veera helps in managing the village theatre group but loves to shimmy her way into the boys’ cricket matches and show them a thing or two about swinging sixers. So it goes that she’s one of the avid spectators at the annual Independence Day cricket matches against Pakistan that the local village team participates in, held at the Wagah Border.

Things don’t look so sunny for the Indians. After a losing streak of eight years, Vikram Kapoor (Anupam Kher), their coach, is at the end of his line. His son, Rohan (Shahid Kapoor), is living the good life in England, leading his cricket team to victory after victory in county cricket. He calls Rohan home to bring some spirit to the team.

Rohan lays eyes on Veera when, driving down a broken dusty road, his flashy sportscar breaks down. And there she is for his rescue, the village girl in pink, yellow and red on a truck just as bright, chewing a stalk of sugar cane taller than herself. Rani and Shahid add in a refreshing edge to the typical rich-city-boy-meets-poor-country-girl, with Veera asking Rohan, “You from English?”

Rohan advertises tryouts for a new cricket team in the village and Veera assumes them to be fair and open to all. To her dismay, she is refused entrance to the grounds by the guard who rudely tells her to try out a pageant instead. One night, she is forced into performing as an understudy for an actor who has passed out drunk. Looking at her own reflection in a man’s clothes, bearded, turbanned and moustachioed, it dawns on her that there’s still a way to prove herself to the world. So the next morning, Rohan selects another batsman for the team, an effeminate and puny Veer Pratap Singh, who holds himself in high regard as a batsman and is full of endearing antics. Though Rani’s blow-dried hair is annoyingly never out of place, even when she is running in the khet or on the pitch, and her Punjabi is, frankly, terrible, she deserves praise for shunning the sexy siren look to play a man’s role for the major part of the film.

Rohan and Veer/Veera get off on the wrong foot on the pitch as well as the road to romance. But things take a different turn quickly. As Rohan finds himself drawn to Veer’s ‘sister’ Veera, he confides in Veer, man-to-man, which makes for a few delightful scenes.

This is another one of those films that promotes the essence of the happy-go-lucky Punjabi charm that Bollywood loves to cash in on. And there are the digs at Pakistanis, with the Pakistani team captain being nothing less than caustic and arrogant. But, as is the case in most Bollywood movies, all’s well that ends well.