When you first reach out on the Internet to find foreign knockoffs of American superheroes you will most likely come across something referred to as the Indian Superman and Spiderwoman. That movie is called Dariya Dil. Funny enough, there was a literal remake of Superman that came out one year prior to this from India as well. It was just called Superman, but is one of the many superhero knockoff movies for which I haven’t found English subtitles. However, every one of the mentions of this movie that I have seen appear to have been written by people who have only seen just the Superman and Spiderwoman scene. They will even reference the IMDb plot summary, which doesn’t even mention Superman or Spiderwoman, as if they are in disbelief that it could be the right movie. The plot summary is right, and so are the people who talk about how great the superhero scene is in the movie. Yet, they both don’t do justice to this film. I hope I can. I also have linked to the full film at the end of this review. Thanks to Shemaroo Films, at the time of writing this, it is up on YouTube legally. I’m sorry about the black bars in my screenshots. That’s where YouTube puts the tiny subtitles. I normally work around this for review purposes, but this was not one that made it easy.
The movie starts out and we are introduced to the hero of the film named Ravi who is played Govinda. He’s here to tell his Dad named Dhaniram (Kader Khan) that he needs to cut back on the sugar so that we know he is the son who listens to his Dad.
You can think of the Dad in this as Larry Hagman from Dallas. Although, he won’t get shot like J.R.
Now Ravi goes to wake one of his brothers and sisters-in-law.
I love the dialog that leads up to that line about her neck-ache. Ravi tells them that God grants wishes to early risers. Sapna (Shoma Anand) says that her husband is an image of God, but that regardless of telling him three hundred times a day about the pain in her neck, he doesn’t help. Her husband says that the treatment for her neck is very expensive. Don’t feel bad though because the treatment is “just an ordinary diamond necklace.” This is when the film makes it clear that other than Ravi, the rest of the family is going to be scheming against Dad. Also, we find out that the father apparently has a lot of money he is sitting on.
After Ravi wakes his brother Ajay (Shashi Puri), we cut to the family factory of Shani Ram & Co.
Since there is a boombox onscreen at this point, it’s as a good a time as any to mention the music in this movie. I don’t mean the musical numbers, but the score. There are two noteworthy things about it. First, it has odd timing to say the least. Sometimes it makes sense, but other times it will get all dramatic even though something very minor has happened on screen. Sometimes I swear nothing happens, but the music doesn’t seem to know that fact. I’m sure they were doing this on purpose because the only other movie I have seen that tries harder to make fun of soap operas is Soapdish (1991).
The second thing is the choice of scores. Often it sounds like this almost futuristic synthesizer music. It kept reminding me of background music I would hear in the Trancers movies. Like everything else in this movie, the score is very 80’s.
Back to the movie. This guy has come in to do his Saturday Night Live audition. He tells Dhaniram that he is his A.D.S. (Asrani) By that he means assistant-driver-secretary. He explains that since he does three jobs, he should be getting three salaries. It’s pretty funny as Dhaniram explains that he actually is just an assistant who knows driving and can do the job of a secretary. Thus, it’s only one job in reality.
The main plot line for this movie is how the father appears to be very greedy with his money, but actually will turn out to be a good guy. He just doesn’t throw his money around for no reason, and isn’t afraid if people want to call him a miser. Heck, he’ll even proudly accept an award as “the king of misers.”
The soap opera of the scheming family and rich Dad continues at home. Then it cuts to an office where a guy hands Ajay some money. Then dramatic zoom…
and abrupt cut to the horse track.
This movie has a thing for abrupt cuts. Apparently, the wipe transition was not in the director’s cinematic vocabulary. Well, he does use one late in the movie. I’m not sure where it came from, but it’s there. The rest of the time scenes will just end. It’s kind of like getting a jump scare each time the scene needs to change. When you add that to everything else in this movie, I love it!
Ajay took the money to the track and lost it. So he does what any irresponsible person would do. He uses the old terrorists beat me up and took the money routine.
Those are the actual subtitles. I don’t know what I like better. The fact that he actually says terrorists took the money. His brother’s yellow-jacket sweater. Nope, it’s the comedy routine that Dhaniram and his A.D.S. go into about what actually happened. I really enjoy how the father says we need to make sure we really know exactly who these “looters” were. Were they “terrorists, extremists, activists, optimists or pessimists?” Dhaniram and his A.D.S. go into cricket umpire mode so that they will remain unbiased.
This is when A.D.S. and other members of the family launch into a standup performance before stripping Ajay of his fake bandages. Cut!
A littler earlier in the movie we met Radha (Kimi Katkar) on a bus. She will be our heroine for the movie. She’s the future Spiderwoman and Indian Natlie Wood. There’s a West Side Story (1961) musical number and one that appears to reference Splendor in the Grass (1961), so why not? This is the scene of the badminton match between Ravi and the guy Radha came with who is determined to take Ravi down. Let’s cut to the chase. Ravi finds out that an iron ball has been put inside the shuttle cork. It’s on, and I think the filmmakers might have seen Turkish Star Wars.
And cut! Cut to what? Why Singin’ In The Rain (1952) of course!
I’m sure the fact that the jacket resembles the one Michael Jackson wore in Thriller is a total coincidence. The musical numbers in this are actually pretty good. It helps a lot that Shemaroo Films bothered to give us subtitles on the songs. I’m pretty sure that every old Bollywood movie I’ve watched never bothered to do that. Can you imagine watching something like The Sound of Music (1965) without subtitles on any of the songs?
As soon as Ravi is literally strung up with rope, it cuts back to more family scheming. Two of the brothers decide to hatch a plan to get at their father’s wealth. Now we meet D.O. Gogi, the shady Doggie Income Tax Officer.
The Dad will refer to him as Doggie later on in the movie. The brothers tell him that their Dad has a bunch of “black money”. Apparently, by turning him in they will get 10% of it. Doggie tries to get a bribe out of the Dad, and he agrees to it. I love how it instantly cuts from Doggie turning to leave the room to Doggie waiting at a construction site for his money. No wasted time in Dariya Dil! Dad shows up, Doggie takes his money, and the cops arrest Doggie. Scene!
Oh, before I continue. Earlier in the movie when we first met Radha, there was a little sequence on a bus. Dariya Dil breaks the fourth wall a few times, and…
the first time it does it, it’s kind enough to hold up four fingers to make sure you get it. I bring it up because Ravi needs to complain in the next scene about the “his” room being occupied.
Ravi decides he has no choice and goes into the “her” room. Of course Radha is in there. If you watch Dariya Dil, then you will often find yourself saying, “Well, of course that just happened. Of course!” Such as these wonderful lines about being intoxicated by urine.
She initially freaks out, but Ravi isn’t going to put up with her backwards bathroom rules. He goes into fast motion to get past her, and then ah!
Once again, of course, he comes out of the bathroom to find Radha is still there because the two of them are locked in the department store. I’m sure that if this movie came out after 1991, then it would have found some way to reference the Frank Whaley/Jennifer Connelly locked in a Target store movie called Career Opportunities. Instead, she threatens him with a sword, then falls asleep next to it. She has a bad dream that he gets drunk, and tries to take advantage of her. She wakes up to find that it’s not a good idea to go to bed next to a sword where you can easily pick up the blade by mistake. He bandages her hand and of course…
Superman and Spiderwoman costumes are hanging right next to them. This is the part of the film that has made it famous. I’ll try to give you some highlights.
Then like everything else in the movie, it suddenly cuts to the next scene. This is when I’d say the soap opera portion kicks into high gear. Up till now it’s been rather comical, but it’s going to get a bit more serious. By that, I mean more scheming children. However, we now find out that the father is anything but a miser when A.D.S. catches him coming out of the post office with a bunch of money orders. The father has his reasons for keeping it a secret. A.D.S. respects him for it. This is when we really know the Dad is a good guy, and does have money.
Need more no nonsense, no time wasted material? We find out now that Ajay is going to get married to a pink lady.
This means a letter needs to be written to Dhaniram’s brother in London. Cut to plane, and boom! He’s there.
I’m not sure which one of these outfits on the girls are worse. That one, or…
this one earlier. While the men’s outfits aren’t much better, the women’s outfits in this movie are so 80’s it hurts. After a few more scenes, we get one I honestly thought meant these two girls were going to turn out to be lesbians.
The dialog here, the way these two ladies act, and that this scene comes after all the crazy stuff we’ve already talked about really had me thinking that could be a possibility. In fact, considering a musical number later in the film, I’m surprised they didn’t turn out to be lesbians. In reality, they are two ladies that are going to also be plotting against the Dad through the Mom. Oh, and it will only take a foot massage in the scene immediately following this one for the scene immediately following that one to be Mom going to Dad in order to get money for the kids from him. Again, it’s No Time Wasted Dariya Dil!
This is when Dhaniram goes into super-dramatic mode.
He finally takes us inside the prayer room. This is where the father allegedly was sitting on a bunch of money like he was the guy Rainbow was referring to in their song Man On The Silver Mountain. Inside, we find it empty except for a few keepsakes. He picks up the items and gives the backstory on them. He in fact calls his family to come forward and share this wealth with him that he worships. I mentioned it before, but let me elaborate here. The film is as much about the father as it is about his children learning not only about their father and his principles, but also why their father is hesitant to just hand out money to them.
The mother continues her pleading. Dhaniram does give in. He gives his sons money to start their own businesses. Ravi is the only one who doesn’t accept it. He tells his father that his lessons are the wealth he has given him. Just as we have this tender moment between father and son…
the movie instantly cuts to…
a woman vomiting. Talk about ruining the moment. This is to tell us she is pregnant. I would show you just how fast we get to her having this baby, but there are some very crucial scenes in between.
First, we get a staged show put on to make Doggie look good by rescuing the brothers from a bad deal. Doggie was bailed out by his brother. A brother that is marrying into the family. One of the girls, who is Doggie’s sister, is also marrying into the family. I think. It gets confusing as any good soap opera should. The point is that Dad catches them all having a conversation about the fake bad business deal. He confronts them. We get this reaction from Doggie.
That’s all you really have to know about this part. Now we cut to Dhaniram pulling up to help some people stranded on the side of the road. He doesn’t see that they are waiting for him. This happens to him.
See! I keep my promises. He did not get shot like J.R. He was stabbed instead, then tossed in the water to die. Totally different!
After a few scenes to tell us everyone is still dirty and the bad guys have taken control of the family, the baby is born.
In terms of runtime, it’s only a few minutes after we found out she was pregnant in the first place.
Now we cut to a funeral/baby shower? I don’t know. However, we get this scene.
Believe it or not, this movie had me wondering what crazy stuff would happen to the point that I didn’t even notice the major clues this movie was dropping about who shot J.R. … I mean stabbed Dhaniram.
Ravi takes his mother away to a house run by his uncle. He finds that it’s actually a home his Dad funded to help the “old and helpless.” Rhana shows up to support the mother.
Now we get an even more random musical number than the Singin’ In The Rain one. It starts with who I believe is a college teacher talking to himself about whether Shakuntala or Vasantsena was more beautiful. I’ve taken a course in both Comparative Religion and Religion in Early India, but I have no clue who they are. Doesn’t matter because he discovers Ravi and Rhana under a tree. Then the Splendor in the Grass musical number begins.
That then goes to a ugly sweater and flamingo dance.
Then it finally settles on whatever the heck he’s wearing and one of the few non-Sari women’s outfits that I like in this movie
Now we cut to the factory to find that when the workers complain, then Doggie whips them with his belt.
It’s been awhile since I watched Ran (1985), but I do remember the lady near the end who goes on a vicious rant about how much she hates the family before they behead her. I would not be surprised if this film is also borrowing from King Lear. Sadly, I have never read the play. My only exposure is through Kurosawa. Ravi witnesses this so…
the movie is now Norma Rae (1979), The Working Class Goes To Heaven (1971), Sister Stella L. (1984). Take your pick.
The bad guys try to shut down the house for the helpless. Not sure if they are sucessful or not. A.D.S. seems to show up to stop it after Ravi puts up an actually fight. Doesn’t matter because this happens next.
Dhaniram shows up and is alive! I guess he was pretending to be his brother during this time. I don’t recall seeing the brother after he showed up initially. Doesn’t matter cause Dad is back. He comforts his wife, then goes to visit Ravi as his brother. However, Ravi sees right through it. He knows it’s his father. He tells him so, and they hug. But if you think actor Kader Khan is going to give up a chance to play the flamboyant brother some more, then you are wrong. No, we finally get Dhaniram actually saying what I have been saying from the beginning. “D.O. Gogi? You mean doggie?”
He takes it further too. After doggie corrects him, Dhaniram doesn’t care, and says it sounds better that way. Every dog needs a collar!
Dhaniram has a great idea for Doggie. He tells him that to combat Ravi, he should kiss up to the workers. He tries to do just that.
Now comes the final, and most bizarre musical number in the film. It’s the West Side Story one. Ravi is wandering down the street when he is confronted by a gang out to get him.
Boy! Ravi is in trouble. If the fact that a posse of cisgender women, transgender women, and Radha show up to rescue him doesn’t surprise you, then I have done justice to how crazy this movie is.
They do a combination of an advocation of non-violence while gladly humiliating these guys by drawing on their homophobia and transphobia to make them squirm.
They even dress up one of the guys as a woman and make him ride a mule like the jackass he is.
The remainder of this film can basically be described as the father using his business skills and his inner circle to bring down Doggie. His sons are ultimately left in ruin. However, this is when the Dad reveals to them that he is still alive. The father doesn’t oust them or anything. He reunites his family.
The brothers finally get the point there father was trying to get across to them. The father also seems to have learned that maybe he was a little too hard on everyone when it came to his ideals. This is also when we find out that the sons didn’t know about how their father died. Of course it was Doggie.
Ravi and family bring him to justice. Even Doggie’s sister is redeemed. Earlier in the film after she was in the poor house, she came to her brothers. They pretended like they didn’t even know her. They weren’t there when she needed them, so she sure does the same thing to them when they need her. They kind of had to do this with the story. I mean the message of the film would have felt a little funny if the woman with Dad’s grandchild was kicked to the curb.
With the story over, the remaining cast kindly poses for the ending title card.
That’s the end! That’s Dariya Dil! It’s a movie known for a short musical number that happens to feature Superman and Spiderwoman. It’s a movie that has an ultimately simple story about selfless charity and not taking the easy path to wealth. Especially when taking that path hurts others, family or otherwise. It’s also a movie that is filled with so many other things that make it so worth watching. I really enjoyed this film. I might come across another one of these foreign superhero movies that I’ll like, but I don’t think any of them will top this.
Here is the full film. Not sure why they felt the need to disable embedding, but they did.