- It felt like Rajput was conveying so much more than the film. Maybe he was telling the world that he’s hurting, that he’s feeling vulnerable.
To say that it was surreal watching Sushant Singh Rajput in “Dil Bechara,” would be an understatement. The film’s premise, it’s cathartic and prophetic tones, and most importantly, Rajput’s brilliance in each and every frame, ably supported by newcomer Sanjana Sanghi, make “Dil Bechara” an absolute tear jerker.
“Dil Bechara,” was released directly onDisney Plus Hotstar on July 24, a little over a month after Rajput committed suicide at his Mumbai home. The film’s release was postponed multiple times, due to post-production delays and then again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The directorial debut of casting director Mukesh Chhabra, “Dil Bechara” is based on Shashank Khaitan and Suprotim Sengupta’s adaptation of John Green’s popular 2012 novel “The Fault in Our Stars,” which was adapted into a Hollywood film of the same name in 2014, starring Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley in lead roles. Here, Hazel Grace is Kizie Basu (Sanjana Sanghi) and Augustus Waters is Immanuel Rajkumar Junior aka Manny (Rajput). The film also stars Saswata Chaterjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Sunil Tandon and features a cameo by Saif Ali Khan.
Kizie is fighting thyroid cancer and Manny has previously suffered from osteosarcoma. The two, poles apart from each other, meet at a cultural festival in college in Jamshedpur. How they help each other evolve and embrace life’s imperfections and uncertainties, forms the crux of the film. Music maestro A.R Rahman’s tracks add to the film’s appeal — whether its Rajput dancing to “Freindzone,” or the title track.
At one point in the film, Rajput and Sanghi’s characters discuss death, and how it leaves a void in the lives and hearts of those who are left behind. I winced, and the tears that had welled up in my eyes, came rolling down. There was no stopping them, even after the film ended.
The fan girl in me was yearning to reach to my laptop’s screen, extend my hand, and reach out to Rajput. I wanted to hold him forever, not let him go. The fact that this would be the last time that I would see Rajput in a new film, was heartbreaking.
I was transported back to the time when I first saw Rajput on television.
Like most people, my first introduction to the talented actor was through the television soap “Pavitra Rishta.” He played Manav Deshmukh, and within no time, became a household name. I remember watching the show with my mother-in-law, every evening, and then discussing it later, analyzing the episode we just saw, and guessing what could happen the following day.
Along with Rajput, I mourned my mother-in-law as well, who passed away almost eight years ago. This is what actors, series and films do. They become mediums through which you can relate to and recall people, incidents, and memories.
Although “Dil Bechara” focuses more on the romance between Kizie and Manny, there are a lot of similarities with the original. In “The Fault in Our Stars,” Hazel is obsessed with a book titled “An Imperial Affliction,” and wants to meet the author Peter Van Houten, who has abruptly ended it mid-sentence. In “Dil Bechara,” a song replaces the book. Kizie is obsessed with singer Abhimanyu Veer’s song, “Main Tumhara, Main Tumhara.” Veer has disappeared after his incomplete album became a hit. Manny fulfills Kizie’s dream of meeting the singer on their once-in-a-lifetime trip to the romance capital of the world, Paris.
My favorite moment in the film was when Manny first uses the word “seri,” which becomes Manny and Kizie’s “word,” just like “Okay Okay” was in “The Fault in Our Stars.” The Tamil word seri also means okay. It’s a simple word, alright, but in the context of the film, it’s a loaded one. Gives hope that everything will eventually be okay.
It was a treat to watch Rajput, his smile lighting up each screen; his chemistry with Sanghi, and his vulnerability. In hindsight, it felt like Rajput was conveying so much more than the film. Maybe he was telling the world that he’s hurting, that he’s feeling vulnerable. He wanted to live, but he had no control; he was sinking, emotionally and mentally. We won’t know what went through his mind, we might never get the answers. But every time I think of Rajput, every time I want to watch him, it will be this film that I’ll go to. It will remind me that despite problems, one must smile and continue to live, and ensure that one teaches others the same along the way.
Bhargavi immigrated to the U.S. in 1997 and has worked with Indian American media since then in various capacities. She has a degree in English literature and French. Through an opportunity from Alliance Française de New York, Bhargavi taught French at Baruch college for over a year. After taking a break and two kids later, she went back to work in the Desi media. An adventure sport enthusiast, in her free time, she likes to cook, bake or go for hikes, biking and long walks.