The Dil Chahta Hai generation | 18 years of Akash, Sameer & Sid

“The only time a group of friends successfully executed a Goa plan without anyone backing out was in Dil Chahta Hai” — Anonymous Indian (unconfirmed)

On August 10, 2001 Farhan Akhtar presented us with a cult classic about bromance, complicated relationships and the undefiled freshness of three disparate characters whose camaraderie binds them together. When Dil Chahta Hai came out, it did not fare too well, specially in the non-metro cities where the urban ‘millennial’ issues did not resonate as much. However, over the years the movie has become the exemplar for any movie about men/ women bonding. The characters of Akash (Aamir Khan), Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Sid (Akshaye Khanna) have been referenced many a times among friends. Someone who is mischievous will automatically be Akash while the confused love-struck one is Sameer and finally the broody artistically inclined one will be Sid.

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The movie did something which very few movies tried to do at that time, that is , make self-discovery and occasional naivety perfectly fine. More often than not, the Bollywood protagonist is the adrenaline-infested character whose machismo doesn’t allow him to have human issues and self doubt. DCH changed that for the better and zoomed in on the interactions of such characters rather than making it about something larger than life. 2001 was also the year of many multi-starrer movies which grappled with ideas of relationships like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Tum Bin etc, but each one seemed to keep the spotlight on lovers or families and their tribulations. DCH was a refreshing change with it’s sexual escapades, buffoonery, miscommunications and a general feel good vibe about it. As Saif’s character says, “ Ya toh dosti gehri hai, yaa phir yeh photo 3D ha” (either the friendship is strong, or this picture is in 3D). We attest, it is the friendship Saif!

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Farhan Akhtar in his directorial debut showed immense command over the narrative as he allowed each character to go through a multitude of emotional and personal ups and downs while keeping the audience engaged in the story with a taut script which never meanders. Some excellent music by Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy also helped along the way. Even the women in the story were as different from each other as possible. Preity Zinta as Shalini embodies the woman who is indebted to her adopted family but who’s heart yearns for it’s true love. Dimple Kapadia is the elegant yet troubled divorcee whose platonic relation with a guy much younger to her did raise a few eyebrows among the audience. But that’s where DCH was slightly ahead of it’s time. It cared about relations which need not have an amorous culmination. It cared about male bonding, it cared about faltering before one learns and it cared about individuals who just enjoy each other’s company even if the society does not sanction due to the age gap.

Dil Chahta Hai will always be relevant and every time we see movie characters having some unadulterated fun and letting their hearts lead their way, we will remember this film!

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