REVIEW: Set in the 80s, ‘Dil Bekaraar’ follows the Thakur family from New Delhi’s posh Hailey Road, and the struggles of the patriarch Justice L N Thakur (Raj Babbar) and his wife, Mamta (Poonam Dhillon), as well as their five beautiful but troubled daughters — each one unique in her own way.
The eldest, Anjini (Sukhmani Sadana), is married and constantly comes up with new ways to seek attention; Binodini (Anjali Anand), who is solely concerned about her hissa in the family property; Chandu, who eloped with a foreigner on the eve of her wedding; Debjani aka Dabbu (Sahher Bambba), who has just gotten the opportunity of a lifetime of being an English speaking newsreader on DD News (Deshdarpan channel, the fictional version of Doordarshan) and Eshwari (Medha Shankar), the youngest of the lot is in her last year of school and has no idea what will she do after that. Meanwhile, amidst this homely chaos is a sweet love story that brews between the protagonists, Dabbu and Dylan Singh Shekhawat (Akshay Oberoi), an investigative journalist and the son of Justice Thakur’s best friend.
The plot of course is not limited to Dabbu and Dylan’s love story. It also depicts the Thakur sisters’ struggles; Anjini’s failing marriage and her love for her stepson Samar, Binny’s husband’s crashing business, Eshu’s high school love life. Not to mention the daily shenanigans of their beloved Chachaji, AN Thakur (Pankaj Kalra), and his wife, Bhudevi Thakur (Padmini Kolhapure), who believes that he (her husband) is having an affair with their house help, Dulari. And then there’s Gulgul (Aditya Kapadia), their sensitive and soft-spoken son who his parents want to see grow into a tough man.
Directed by Habib Faisal (known for Hindi films like ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ and ‘Ishaqzaade’), this 10-part series is more than just a brewing love story and a chick-lit drama. Briefly, though, it is also set against the politics that led to the Bhopal gas tragedy. With few twists, the screenplay by Suhani Kanwar and Ruchika Roy presents a multi-layered narrative that includes naivety of 80s romance, family struggles, and politics, all of which combine to make this tale entertaining. The story has its good moments — it is a light and breezy watch that’s packed with wit.
To keep the plot authentic to the book it is inspired by, the creators kept all the characters’ names similar to those in Anuja Chauhans’ novel ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls.’ The first few episodes take their own sweet time introducing different characters while keeping the viewers engaged. But, the latter part of the series, which focuses on the Bhopal gas tragedy, slows the pace even further and does not appear natural. Additionally, the use of some old melodies like ‘Duniya Mein Logon Ko,’ ‘Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho,’ and others played in the background towards the end of each episode fits nicely with the narrative’s atmosphere.
As a journalist who is constantly striving for recognition and, at the very least, a byline in the newspaper, Akshay Oberoi is impressive. He once told his co-workers that “video news (TV) is like a colourful cocktail with no substance and lots of entertainment, whereas print news is like a good whiskey on the rocks with actual news.” This perfectly captures his character’s passion for his work. Sahher Bambba, who made her debut with Sunny Deol’s directorial venture ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’, looks elegant in the perfectly draped sarees. She skillfully played the role of a strong and opinionated English newsreader, Debjani Thakur. Dabbu and Dylan’s on-screen chemistry epitomises the spirit of 80s romance.
As yesteryear Bollywood’s veteran actors, Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, and Padmini Kolhapure play interesting characters for whom the viewers may root. Padmini Kolhapure’s habit of chewing paan and cursing nonstop can be a little too much at times. Even so, she makes a convincing Bhudevi. It’s a bonanza to see all three of them on screen after such a long time. Chandrachur Singh’s performance as Health Minister Hardik Motla, could have been more impactful, but with so many characters already jostling for space, his character couldn’t be fleshed out properly. The rest of the Thakur sisters are equally persuasive.
Whether you’ve read the novel or not, ‘Dil Bekaraar,’ with its family drama and romance set in the era of telegrams, typewriters, Doordarshan, and Campa Cola, will definitely take you down the memory lane while recreating the 80s magic. It’s enjoyable!