Series: Dil Bekaraar (Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar). Duration: 35 minutes per episode.
Director: Habib Faisal. Cast: Akshay Oberoi, Sahher Bambba, Sukhmani Sadhana, Anjali Anand, Medha Shankar, Arjun Berry, Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Padmini Kolhapure, Tej Sapru, Sonali Sachdev, Chandrachur Singh, Suhel Seth, Pankaj Kalra, and Alekh Sangal.
From its dreamy theme song to its 2D-style animation, to its period soundtrack, and of course, its late-80s/ early-90s nostalgia, ‘Dil Bekaraar’, streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, is completely charming.
The romance between a TV news reader and a crusading journalist is a delight to watch, as are the many cameos from well-known faces of that era.
Based on Anuja Chauhan’s 2013 novel, ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’, this rom-com is a family affair. And it will appeal to those who grew up in the late 1980s.
Set in Delhi, the series takes us into the house of retired Supreme Court Justice Laxmi Narayan Thakur (Raj Babbar) and his wife Mamta (Poonam Dhillon), who have five daughters named in alphabetical order.
The oldest is the attention-seeking Anjini (Sukhmani Sadhana), who is the second wife of Anant Singh aka Antu (Alekh Sangal). The second daughter is the complexed Binodini (Anjali Anand), who has two annoyingly spoilt aughters and a husband who is trying his best to be an entrepreneur.
The third daughter is Chandrakanta aka Chandu, who eloped with her boyfriend on the eve of her wedding. The fourth daughter is the soft-hearted but quietly fiery Debjani aka Dabbu (Sahher Bambba), and the youngest is the school-going Eshwari aka Esh (Medha Shankar).
This series, consisting of ten episodes, begins with Debjani getting selected to be the English newsreader for the government-owned channel Desh Darpan aka DD.
How she meets and falls in love with Dillon Singh Shekhawat (Akshay Oberoi), an idealistic, anti-establishment journalist working with the New India Pioneer, helmed by Hira (Suhel Seth), forms the core of the series.
After watching the first few episodes, you realise that with so much attention being given to matchmaking, you end up with the feeling that this is the retelling of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for modern India.
The period is well captured, with telephone booths with an STD connection, news of the Bhopal tragedy, mention of the cricket matches, Ambassador taxis, and vintage cars. The only glitch seems to appear from the dialogue department, with oft-spoken lines such as “Achche din ayenge”, “The people must know” and “The nation wants to know”, which belong to the 1990s.
On the performance front, each actor is in the skin of their characters. Apart from Akshay Oberoi and Sahher Bambba, Medha Shankar as Eshwari and Arjun Berry as Sateesh are appealing.
Padmini Kolhapure, as the foul-mouthed Bhudevi Thakur, stands out as a natural but unfunny caricature. Similarly, Sonali Sachdev, as Juliet Shekhawat, with her Malayali accent, is over-the-top and cute.
The Shekhawat brothers, Jason and Ethan, too are amiable in their own ways. Suhel Seth as the editor and Chandrachur Singh as Minister Hardik Motla operate on the sidelines in minuscule roles.
(Troy Ribeiro can be contacted at email@example.com)