Dil Se..

1998 [HINDI]

Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 60%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 80%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 28945

Plot summary

October 10, 2022 at 05:08 PM


Mani Ratnam

Top cast

Shah Rukh Khan as Amarkanth Varma
1.49 GB
Hindi 2.0
24 fps
2 hr 45 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Peter_Young 9 / 10

Beautiful piece of art, larger than life yet thoroughly realistic...

This is one of the greatest and most crafted works of the incredible Mani Ratnam. I was stunned by every moment of it and the very first scene was enough for me to get completely hooked. Mr Ratnam's ability to make a grandiose love story and yet keep it starkly realistic is just unbelievable. It makes the viewer believe that true, intense love does not exist only in fairy tales, but in real-life too, with simple and ordinary people. Dil Se is a rare gem of its times - authentic, hard-hitting, gripping, and deeply involving. Some people have deemed it a bit slow and tedious, but according to me the film moves at a steady pace and is totally focused, engaging and captivating.

The film's concept: a young, hard-working radio broadcaster falls in love with a mysterious, strangely apathetic woman who is actually a terrorist may have been tackled before by filmmakers around the world, but none has done it the way Mr Ratnam did. He directs this feature with heart and soul and intensifies it with complete mastery, so much that you cannot leave the screen even for one moment (even if you are one of those who prefer skipping the songs). The script is grounded in tension and mystery, and it thankfully avoids sentimentality. And then we also have some genuinely real yet exceptional dialogues, which bring forth a poetic quality that eases the serious proceedings.

Every artist involved in this film gives one of their best. A.R Rahman, for one, creates one of the most crafted and beautiful movie soundtracks of his career, giving so much life and essence to the film. The songs flow incredibly well with the film, they never feel unnecessary, they fit the situations, and ultimately enhance the narrative and contribute to the film's mystery and intense atmosphere. "Dil Se Re", "Jiya Jale", "Chaiyya Chaiyya" and "Satrangi Re" - each track is a gem and showcases the greatness of Rahman and Ratnam, who visualises them exceedingly well on-screen. This of course could have been done without Santosh Sivan's brilliant cinematography.

The performances are top notch. This is one of Shahrukh Khan's most accomplished and realistic performances. He is intense, witty, vulnerable, believable and convincing as Amar. He portrays a suffering man who would go to any strengths for a woman he hardly knows, and though his character's unconditional love may seem peculiar, he manages to keep it real and balanced. He conveys his feelings, whether it's sorrow, love, pain or anger, in his own inimitable style, using his troubling intensity and nervous mannerisms. One can really feel for the pain in his eyes, which is evident every time he meets this woman who keeps rejecting him. A superb act.

Manisha Koirala, one of the most talented dramatic actresses India has seen, is flawless as Meghna. She smiles barely once in the entire film but her expressive eyes and silence speak volumes and always do the job. It's a natural and ambiguous portrayal of a woman who has lost belief in life and love, or at least of someone who compels herself to think so. She brilliantly displays the little nuances which let us sense her constant fights with herself and her struggle to not submit to her feelings every time she faces the bright side of the world, forcefully and firmly fossilising herself for the sake of a mission which must be completed.

Preity Zinta, the star herself in her debut film, does something very few actors have been capable of doing: she makes a great impact despite having a very small role. It's a great achievement for any actor to excel and make a lasting impression with a role of such minimal importance and screen time. She is natural, vibrant and very likable, commanding the audience's attention with her strong screen presence and lively persona. She's always been known for her ability to add happiness and positivity to films which are overly serious and dark, and this one is no exception. Her full of life, frank and direct Preeti is one of the most unforgettable characters in recent years.

Dil Se is a socially relevant movie but it is a love story at heart and there it scores the most. It may not appeal to all kinds of audiences (in fact, it was a box office failure in India, though a success overseas), more because of its brutally honest depiction of terror and national battle, yet it remains thoroughly fascinating. The film is atmospheric, dark and deep. The only aspects that abstract the viewer from these features may be the energetic music and Preity Zinta's light character. In anyway, it is a picture of great artistic excellence, and I would recommend anyone to see it. The ending is also most unpredictable, only making it more beautiful and memorable.

Reviewed by HeadleyLamarr 10 / 10

Intense and beautiful

When I first saw Dil Se I had no idea who Mani Ratnam was, but I have since sought out and seen many of his films. Dil Se remains his best film in my opinion.

A chance encounter at a remote train station between a brash radio executive, Amar Verma, and a mysterious woman Meghna(?) leads to Amar's dogged pursuit of Meghna. He is in love, she is enigmatic, elusive and unattainable despite his following her and pressing his suit. She keeps walking away. Amar seems to give up and goes back home to get engaged to pretty and perky Preety. But then Meghna walks back into his life and asks for help. Amar takes a while to realize that all is not as it should be and the movie rapidly turns from a romance into a thriller in the second half. There is a terrorism sub-plot, there is intense emotion, and the fact that there is one woman too many in our hero's life.. The movie negotiates all this and moves us rapidly towards a stunning finale.

The film is visually stunning - the train top song Chaiyyan Chaiyyan, the Ladakh locales including a snow covered lake and ruins among the dunes, the masterful use of light in the most intense emotional moments, the mundane streets of Delhi, children running up and down the stairs in an old house - the moments of visual beauty are too many to list. A R Rahman's music is astoundingly good. There is no mediocre number - Sukhwinder's stunning Chaiyyan Chaiyan, Sonu's gritty Satrangi re, Udit's haunting Ae Ajnabi, AR Rahman's soulful Dil Se re, and Lata's sensual Jiya Jale - every song is situationally perfect masterfully sung and worth going on the A-list on your iPod.

Mani is a master craftsman - the tale of Dil Se is not easily absorbed at one go. The first impact is one of mystery and confusion. But the second time around one knows that this was the intention all along - Meghna carries deep dark secrets that will not allow her to accept her attraction for Amar, yet Amar can sense the mutual attraction and keeps pursuing her. Dil Se is set in some unknown North Eastern state in India. These regions were historically never a part of India and were added to political India by the British. Their populace is culturally and ethnically different. Post-independence these states have been in a state of unrest and more and more isolated. The influx of refugees from Bangladesh into this region has strained resources and made the political situation even more volatile. These states are less affluent and there is much separatist (terrorist?) activity going on in almost every state, despite programs from the central government that provide resources and raw materials at a reduced cost and also decree that only permanent residents and natives can buy land in these states (to keep ethnic identities intact).

This political situation has parallels in the story - Amar is happy go lucky, affluent, confident in his family relationships, in his identity, in his ability to achieve his goals - whether they be wooing a reluctant woman or meeting with the separatists/terrorists. This is very much like mainstream India. Meghna on the other hand is unhappy, relatively poor (notice the often close to tattered clothing), has feelings of dissociation and estrangement, a need to fight back.

Their meeting is by chance - just as by happenstance the NE states became part of political India. They are as different as can be - he is brash and hyper, she is introspective and quiet.

She is attracted to Amar yet also strangely repulsed by him. This is very much like the uneasy political alliance between the NE states and mainstream India. There is the danger of getting engulfed by other neighbors so an alliance is necessary, yet there is perceived disenfranchisement as there is not enough representation in the political process.

Amar is shown to be a bit coercive in the beginning and overly helpful in the end and this represents the two extremes of how the central government handles the situation in the NE. There are many facilities provided (cheaper resources), protection given in terms of property rights. Yet the hand is heavy when it comes to political decision making.

Meghna's past parallels some of the heavy handedness at the hands of the center while Aamr's attitude of trying to figure out why there is unrest indicates that there is a basic desire at the center to help.

The "love" story is rather unusual and highlights these forces of attraction and tension. Only in the very end is Mani completely enigmatic. In the end are we now witnessing the love story alone or is it a prophecy for the future? Mani stays completely on the fence the entire time and looks at the situation (and indeed at the love story) as Amar the journalist would. He is merely reporting the facts and not passing any judgments.

The film is superbly acted. Shahrukh effortlessly conveys the brash young man in search of a story, the obsessed lover, the reluctant fiancé, the angry man, the patriot. This is one of his finest roles to date. Manisha does an excellent job as Meghna - she is luminous, diffident, attracted and yet repulsed, driven - and all this with almost no words spoken. Shahrukh conveys so much with body language - watch him in the desert after Meghna leaves in the night - he is despair personified. And Manisha uses her eyes - a look says it all when Amar asks her on the roof top if she loves him. Preity is great as the perky girl - excellent in the sensuous number Jiya Jale. I hope Mani Ratnam is aware of the huge impact this film had and continues to have. Watch Dil Se, you will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by reini-2 10 / 10


The problem with Hindi cinema is its very strong formalistic framework where it has to fit in. It must pass the censors, must be made for a billion of mostly analphabets and must contain a great number of song and dance scenes. Mani Ratnam is one (and only?) director who constantly extents this genre to embrace the producers, the popular audience and the critical and political aware intellectuals with his strong political claims ("Roja", "Bombay"). This one now beats it all and everybody (in India) talked about it. Such an end was not seen before in Hindi cinema, and all fits perfectly well (despite to what some other critics said). And it works even if you know the end before (which most do).

It's my current favorite. Technically superb, very sophisticated content, big fun and emotions. An american version would have been a typical political thriller about an unlucky love to a female terrorist, but Mani Ratnam gives us 300%. Not just the Indian Spielberg or Tsui Hark, this is more. Go for it.

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