I was a teenager when Mani Rathnam’s touted classic Dil Se… released. Being a huge Manisha Koirala, A.R. Rahman and Mani Rathnam fan I was looking forward to the movie. The songs by Music Maestro AR Rahman coupled with Gulzar saab’s lyrics were already a rage – Chaiyya Chaiyya made everyone dance with joy, Satrangi Re and Ae Ajnabi conveyed the seven stages of love and pathos of a longing heart beautifully, Jiya Jale was sweet and Dil Se Re quite poetic and visual. The performance by Manisha, fresh after Bombay, Khamoshi and Agnisakshi was one of her career highs. For a welcome change I loved Shah Rukh after a long time (maybe Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa was the last movie where he actually impressed me and later in Chak De India and Swades).
The movie released and I was one of the eager fans to stand in a long queue 3 hours prior to the screening time to collect my tickets for the first day first show . The movie was like a painting in motion. The introductory shot of Manisha sitting on the platform covered in a blanket that is ripped of by a strong gush of wind revealing her beautiful makeup-free face was sheer poetry. I feel again in love with this timeless beauty while Shah Rukh sang Chaiya Chaiya in her praise 🙂
Most of the sequences in the movie were quite grim and realistic and to compliment the mood it was shot in various locations like Ladakh, North Eastern parts of India, Kerala, Delhi etc. Cameraman Santosh Sivan captured the rustic locales of Ladakh, wintry Delhi and backwaters of Kerala beautifully.
The performances by the lead pair as I mentioned earlier, were class apart. In this grim love story to bring freshness and spunk, Mani Rathnam added a tinge of debutant Priety Zinta who even with her limited screen presence, stood ‘pretty’ tall with her performance in front of Manisha and Shah Rukh.
The climax is one of the high points ever seen in a Hindi movie and today even after 17 years gives me goosebumps. The movie was complete in itself however, humongous expectations backed with lesser knowledge of the terrorism issue in the North-Eastern part of India gave the movie away at the Indian Box Office.
Like Guru Dutt’s Kagaz Ke Phool, Dil Se… is regarded today as a classic which was way ahead of its time!