Dil Bechara mentions suicide twice and I froze, remembering the moment of utter shock and disbelief when the news of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death came out. But Sushant has almost always played characters who had a certain zeal for life, his Manny here does too. Thus instead of focusing on the sombre note, the film ended on, I focused on his words, “Janam kab lena hai aur marna kab hai, hum decide nahi kar sakte hain. Par jeena kaise hai wo hum decide kar sakte hain”, so even as Dil Bechara serves as a heart-wrenching reminder of a kind soul gone too soon, it is also a nudge towards actually living life, without worrying when it will run out.
A Hindi adaptation of author John Green’s bestselling novel, The Fault In Our Stars, Dil Bechara, helmed by its protagonists, Manny (Sushant Singh Rajput) and Kizie (Sanjana Sanghi), leads with a message at its heart- the future is unpredictable, inevitable, but the present depends on how you celebrate the present and grab every moment.
Anyone who has read the book knows that while it narrates the beautiful yet tragic love story of a couple, both suffering from cancer, it never opts to sympathize with them- it reaches out to understand, allowing them the space to be the “normal” they crave to be. And it is a blessing to see director Mukesh Chhabra, who otherwise overlooks many bumpy plot holes, sticks to the book’s core theme in Dil Bechara, with Sushant Singh Rajput and newcomer, Sanjana Sanghi, adding wonder to it with their exceptional performances.
Dil Bechara begins in Jamshedpur, where we meet Kizie Basu who has been suffering from thyroid cancer from a young age and now it has started affecting her lungs to the point that she has to go around lugging an oxygen tank, which she has dubbed as Pushpinder. Her concerned parents (Swastika Mukherjee and Saswata Chatterjee) hover anxiously, afraid of what may happen in the next second.
Kizie, while secretly coveting a normal life like any other girl her age, has a bleak outlook on life, dry humour as a defense, and believes that Bollywood’s depiction of love stories is nothing but a farce as according to Kizie, the true story is “Ek tha Raja, ek thi Rani, dono mar gaye, khatam kahani.”
It is then that she meets a bubbly and exuberant Sushant Singh as Immanuel Rajkumar Junior a.k.a.Manny in college and later at a cancer support group- he had a brush with osteosarcoma and his cancer is in remission. While he is smitten, she is guarded, wary of his high energy, his passionate talks about Rajnikanth, and his frank behaviour, but his infectious charm soon wins her heart, even as she half-heartedly resists, sure that her certain death will break his heart.
They shoot a Bhojpuri movie together for Manny’s close friend, Jagdish Pandey (Sahil Vaid), who wanted to direct a film before cancer took his eyesight, permanently. We see Kizie and Manny bond, even as their likes and dislikes differ, as they zip through the lanes of Jamshedpur on his scooter. But the inkling that this story will not end on a happy note, clouds their moments of bliss.
While Sanjana Sanghi, undoubtedly, shines in the role of Kizie in Dil Bechara with her heartfelt performance, it is Sushant Singh Rajput whose intense, lively portrayal of Manny lights up the screen as he emotes vulnerability, an endearing smugness, and a zeal for life with the same gusto. It is both mesmerizing and heartbreaking to watch.
If like me, you set out to watch Dil Bechara for closure, it has none. It is not a tribute to the brilliant actor Sushant Singh Rajput was, it was not made to bring you the peace or the answers you seek- it’s a symbol of the authenticity he added to his characters, the wonder he brought to the stories, and a rare magic that lit up every frame he was in.