Kill/Dil (2014)

This is the first – and likely the last – Bollywood review that I’ll begin with an apology to Linda Tuhiwai Smith. No, it wasn’t the sins of methodological colonialism, rather, I was all booked in to go to her public lecture and then bunked off to the cinema instead.

Kill/Dil is a film about a common dilemma: true love, or a career as a hired assassin? Or, Parineeti Chopra and Govinda, as it were.

Ranveer Singh is the man in the middle. And, let me just take a moment to strike up a lament – because I miss the masala hero ‘tache, I really do.

The hair (both facial and roguishly swept) in this film belongs to Ali Zafar. He scowls, he broods, he is resized in the poster to the scale of his role. Though he wears Ranveer’s hair, Ali’s role as Tutu is that of not being Ranveer’s Dev.

Tutu, however, is a more attractive character than Dev. Brooding he may be, but there’s a solidity about him. There’s also, ultra-violence aside, a goodness to him as he covers/cleans up after Dev.

Dev, meanwhile, is a total wally. I’m usually Team Ranveer (Can you tell? Will I ever stop loving this Filmfare performance?), but he plays Dev like he’s been given a ticket for the special bus. By the time Dev is clad in a rib-warming woolly waistcoat and cheesily selling life insurance, all the spice has left the hero.

Ranveer can camp up the comedy, and the overgrown kid routine would be amusing if we didn’t need to believe that Parineeti Chopra’s Disha actually fancies Dev. Parineeti herself could laugh competitively for India (see any awards ceremony in which she is in the audience), but Disha is supposed to be an intelligent woman of the world. This on-screen relationship didn’t convince me and Sweeta is its official song.

Come back, twirly ‘tache, all is forgiven.

In other songs, Happy Budday is a little bit glorious (in a cheese-tastic and sometimes lyrically wince-worthy way) and deserves credit in the annals of coordinated dancing with cake. Sajde is a classic entrant in the jodi-teleported-to-fantastic-landscape genre, with enough unshaven-ness and oiled chest for Tattad Tattad flashbacks. Nakhriley ends the film by hamming up the ‘once upon a time in the west’ theme (look at you, Parineeti; how many out-takes are there of you cracking up through this one?).

It’s the title song, I think, that really stands out. It has shoot-outs, spaghetti western tribute comedy, a dance-along-at-home chorus line and … um, twirling rainbow umbrellas. It also has Govinda, busting out the moves like a boss (and doesn’t he know it).

The thing is, this is Govinda’s film. He might be tucked away at the back of the poster, but there isn’t a moment when he’s on screen where he isn’t owning it. Basically, he’s James Brown in sandals and a scarf.

Govinda does pay the cost to be the boss in the end, bowing out in bloody style and thus making way for the happy ending. Kill/dil? The choice is d-d-d-d-d-d-dil.