-by Deepanjana Pal
In Bollywood, rumour has it that films are pitched on the strength of the one-liner that sums it up. In a sentence, Kill/Dil doesn’t seem too bad: two sharp-shooting lowlifes decide to turn a new, legal leaf and become life insurance agents. This sounds like a reasonably fun idea. Attach a talented cast to it, and it sounds like a winner. The only thing missing? An actual script.
Govinda, Ranveer Singh and Ali Zafar mooch around for 127 minutes, pretending to be trigger-happy thugs. Govinda is Bhaiyyaji, a ring leader who does not age and wears only black kurtas and white pyjamas. His wardrobe might be limited because all his money goes paying for the palatial haveli that is his home and office. Also, he has an open bar for his employees. None of this can be cheap.
His most prized contract killers are Dev (Singh) and Tutu (Ali Zafar), a lethal twosome who go around killing those that Bhaiyyaji wants dead. It’s all going bloody well, until glam doll lawyer Disha (Parineeti Chopra) shows up and Dev falls for her.
Are you wondering what the story in Kill/Dil is? Join the club. After 127 minutes, we weren’t quite sure either. Things happen in Kill/Dil — Dev and Disha romance, Dev and Tutu ride a bike and kill people, Bhaiyyaji has a meltdown because Dev chose to go to Disha’s Diwali party instead of Bhaiyya’s — but it’s all disjointed and slack, borrowing bits from past films and relying upon stylish cinematography to distract the audience.
Still, there are moments when Kill/Dil surprises you. Like when you notice Ranveer Singh has chest hair or the scene in which we learn Alok Nath runs a life insurance company that was founded by Nirupa Roy. Unfortunately, these instances are too few and far between in Kill/Dil and the disappointments are too many.
Perhaps the most piercing disappointment is Parineeti Chopra’s wardrobe. Her stylist has managed the feat of dressing the attractive actress in entirely unflattering outfits, most of which appear to be one size too small for her. If she had a role that would make us pay attention to something other than her outfits, this would be forgivable. No such luck for Chopra. There was more attention paid to her manicures — there’s a new colour on her nails in almost every other scene — than to Disha and her story.
The real problem in Kill/Dil, however, is the complete absence of tension in what is supposed to be a darkly funny thriller. The cast tries hard and is competent but the script is a lazy patchwork of events with a little bit of Gulzar’s poetry thrown in now and then for panache. The most dynamic performance in Kill/Dil is from Singh’s hair, which flops, gets a side parting, stands up straight, and performs other product-inspired acrobatics.
If you’re feeling charitable, then you’ll notice that Govinda still has great screen presence but is wasted. You will also make a mental note that if you ever have to choose between Govinda and Parineeti Chopra’s Diwali parties, Govinda’s is the one to attend. You may find yourself wondering why the cheerful bromance between Zafar and Singh doesn’t make you feel for the characters even though the two actors are talented and Zafar, in particular, delivers his lines with great comic timing. Zafar might be the supporting actor on paper, but he’s stolen Singh’s thunder with his comparatively restrained performance. It’s easy to imagine an alternative Kill/Dil in which Dev and Bhaiyya are one romantic pair while Disha and Tutu are the other.
Except when you find yourself rewriting a film during its first-day-first-show screening, that’s not a good sign.