‘Dilliwali Zaalim Girlfriend’ – leave Delhi alone, please!

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Film: “Dilliwali Zaalim Girlfriend”; Cast: Divyendu Sharma, Ira Dubey, Pradhuman Singh, Prachi Mishra and Jackie Shroff; Directed by Japinder Singh; Rating: *1/2

Leave Dilli alone, please! Whenever Bollywood feels like making a cosy film about basic bondings, they head for the national capital. But then, not every Delhi-based film is Dibakar Banerjee’s “Khosla Ka Ghosla” or Satish Kaushik’s underrated “Tere Sang”.

“Dilliwalli Zaalim Girlfriend” — don’t bother to memorise the tongue-twisting title because by the time you get a hang of it, the film will be out of the theatres — is neither a political comment nor a love story (the two favourite plot points in films set in Delhi).

Come to think of it, this film isn’t much of anything except a perplexing oddity served up to torture our senses with its brittle boardroom humour.

You know those films where you wonder why they bothered to make it in the first place?Bingo! “Dilliwali…” seems like a vehicle to promote Divyendu Sharma, the actor who shone in that unforgotten gem of a film “Pyaar Ka Punchnama”, as a conventional romantic lead.

While playing the regular jobless roving-eyed lothario, Sharma also gets to do song breaks, one where he pounds the piano passionately and looks more like a victim of a fractured wrist than a broken heart, and the other where he gets to rap with Yo Yo Honey Singh…no less.

One ardently wishes Sharma would stop trying to be a Shah Rukh Khan or a Ranbir Kapoor. Pradhuman Singh, who plays Sharma’s buddy, is far more comfortable with the space provided to him. He is happy being well, Happy. That’s the character’s name. And if you want to know what a guy called Happy in Delhi behaves like, then you haven’t been to Delhi lately.

The film ticks all the boxes in the rom-com space and yet manages to emerge looking stripped-down and exposed, like a chicken that’s about to be slaughtered.

Where, pray tell, is the plot? We understand this is a comedy about a besotted loverboy (Sharma) who buys a car on loaned money to impress the girl in the bank, and then spends the rest of the time running from pillar to post trying to find the car after it’s stolen.

Well, ha ha to that. Every encounter staged to trap the car-mafia chief (Jackie Shroff, looking like the villainous actor Mukesh Tiwari and behaving like a Sindhi trying to do Punjabi accent) smacks of cocky writing. What made Jackie assume this cheesy space? The free ticket from Mumbai to Delhi, perhaps?

There is a growing breed of avant garde writers in Bollywood who feel scripting unconventional plots is the solution to the creative midlife crisis that our cinema is currently going through. But just because your characters are young and they pretend to be ‘cool’, they don’t qualify as harbingers of change in modern Indian cinema.

Such aggressively bohemian writing (by the competent actor Manu Rishi Chadha) is a new form of regression and oppression in our cinema, where characters try so hard to populate an unorthodox plot they end up looking like gatecrashers at a poorly attended wedding.

The two primary female actors serve up a more palatable template in their personality. Prachi Mishra (poor voice, poor packaging) is the girl who entices our hero into buying the car. She is a material girl clinging to dubious values in a script that stifles her aspirations.

Ira Dubey plays the most interesting character in the fractured plot. She is an ambitious TV journalist chasing that one last scoop before her parents marry her off. This character deserves to be in a better film.

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