Dil Bole Hadippa! (The Heart Says Hadippa!) is your pretty standard quirky masala lite post-2000 fare - think Diet Aaja Nachle with a sprinkling of Chak De! India. It covers two increasingly popular topics in mainstream Hindi films - the sports film and the girl power film (as well as one ever-popular topic: the Punjab) - and does it using the ever-charming Rani Mukherjee in the gender-bending role of Veera Kaur and her alternate ego, Veer Pratap Singh (popular name...).
"Charming" is a good word to use for the film overall - from its bright, bubbly beginning, to its satisfyingly large bhangra dance numbers (a must, in a film so soaking in Punjabi-ness). Unfortunately, it loses considerable steam after intermission, to the point that the climactic cricket match and lover's spat feels boring and forced. Oh, just get on with it, we were thinking. Thankfully, the film's heart is in the right place: with cheerful vibes of Indian-Pakistani unity (though India, of course, must win the cricket match) and a positive girl power message.
The best song, purely in terms of volume, color (man in a pink shirt, alert! yay) and bhangra-y goodness.
Time to bring Shahid back to his roots, man.
Optimistic and energetic Veera Kaur (Rani Mukherjee) is a self-declared "world-class batsman, right- and left-handed", and, when not helping out her local Punjabi theatre company, she busies herself with kicking ass on the pitch. One day, local cricket coach (Anupam Kher) and his best buddy from across the border (a very unexpectedly fly-looking Dilip Tahil - gosh, he's aging well!) have their annual India-Pakistan cricket match. With much sadness and woe, India loses. Twelve (?!) years on, and that same coach calls his cricket star son, Rohan (Shahid Kapoor), back from London - and, using some of that old-fashioned Hindi parent emotional arm-twisting - guilt-trips Rohan into staying on in the Punjab to help his dad's team beat Pakistan in the re-match. Veera, looking identical even after twelve years!, tries out for the team but is cast away due to the fact that she has a uterus. Whatever. Dejected, she mopes back to the theatre company... where she gets roped into cross-dressing as a jolly Sardar in the show's next big bhangra number. This, of course, gets Veera thinking, and no sooner than you can say "Sat Sri Akaal!" she's lost the eyeliner and donned a fake beard, reintroducing herself at the cricket tryouts as Veer Pratap Singh (uterus-free!).
Aww, Rani is a cute man!
Oh my! This is the first time we've seen girl-on-girl undertones in a Hindi film since 1959!
The rest of the story goes much as you expect, with some unexpectedly racy girl-on-girl and men's locker room gags. It even goes into a slightly Twelfth Night vibe, once Rohan falls for Veera and asks "Veer" for help, but things don't get too crazy.
Everything is sparkling and clean in this film, making it an altogether pleasant experience. Nothing is particularly mind-blowing - the songs are cute, the performances acceptable, the plot pretty straightforward - but we have no real complaints either. We saw this without subtitles, and so we floated above any double entendres given our limited Hindi, but we also don't think there was any great subtlety to the script. (At least, judging by everyone else's reactions.) Rani Mukherjee was her usual lovable self - we always enjoy seeing her, and she's one of the few Hindi actresses today who has that same spark and vivacity that the Greats of Old (Nargis... Neetu... Parveen...) had. Shahid Kapoor has been impressing us this year, given this and the grimy, quirky Kaminey, and we look forward to the Era of Shahid once the aging Khans finally allow themselves to be dethroned. Anupam Kher was subdued and cried a lot - which we always appreciate. And Dilip Tahil - where do you shop, my man? Because you were looking fly as heee-eeell.
Our advice: see this in the theatres, if you can. The big songs and big fun are worth it, and we expect that it'll lose quite a bit on the small screen.