Decoding what makes Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna's friendship (im)perfect in Farhan Akhtar's directorial debut.
'You know what? Humein har saal ek hafte ke liye Goa aana chahiye.' This line from Dil Chahta Hai by Akash (Aamir Khan) is the one that almost every millennial resonates with but only a few get to execute. However, it's Siddharth's (Akshaye Khanna) reply that hits home and brings us back to reality. In case you can’t recall, allow me to jolt your memory. Siddharth says, "Dekh raha hoon woh jahaaz jo zara der baad dikhayi nahi dega. Jaante ho hum teeno uss jahaaz ke tarah hai, jo aaj nahi toh kal apni manzilon ko dhoondhte huye niklenge." He adds that in the future, their destinations may not coincide.
However, Akash and Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) assure that they will be friends for life no matter what. This scene (which is otherwise most remembered for the iconic shot of the three actors at Chapora Fort in Goa), creates the base for the rest of the film and we see the three friends drifting apart, only to be reunited forever.
Dil Chahta Hai has been analysed, psychoanalysed and decoded by cinephiles over the years. But one thing which stays true is the definition of friendship which has been 'updated' now and then. The Farhan Akhtar directorial effortlessly portrays that not all friendships or friends are perfect. They can be flawed and it's not necessary to accept those flaws as we go ahead in life. It’s okay to call out your friend for their wrongdoings.
When Siddharth slaps Akash for cracking a petty joke on his love for Tara (Dimple Kapadia), it may not necessarily be just because of that joke, but an action propelled by several instances that may have been piled up over the years. He asks Akash to 'grow up' but doesn’t make an effort to let him know that he has probably moved past the phase where everything is funny and can't tolerate everything Akash does. What I could make of the sequence was that Sid too had some guilt for slapping his best friend over a not-so-funny joke, when he, being the more mature one, could have simply tried to reason with him.
It is at this moment that we realise what Siddharth had earlier said at Chapora Fort has actually become a reality as the three buddies begin to drift apart from this incident. During the Goa scene, when Sid says that he feels their destinations are different and might not coincide in future, Sameer fails to comprehend the reason why Sid feels so. He assures Sid that they will be friends for life.
Sameer is in denial and doesn’t want to accept that their friendship is actually flawed, which is why he is puzzled when Sid slaps Akash. But he also feels responsible for bringing his two best friends together to become a perfect trio like before.
The third part of the fort scene is when Sameer assures Siddharth that they’ll be best friends forever and Akash agrees. Akash then walks towards Sid and tells him that there can never be a reason good enough for them to drift apart. This is more of Akash's ego talking, probably implying that he won’t be the one responsible for anything that goes wrong in future which may cause them to go separate ways.
But as the movie progresses, Akash becomes the very reason that separates the trio. One slap and he just hears what Sid says and then walks off. In a jiffy, he goes on an ego trip, quite literally, to Australia and forgets that Sid even exists for him. Akash is essentially a man-child who fears rejection and ultimately gets rejected by his own friend for being a jerk to him. Rather than trying to work on his differences with Sid, Akash distances himself from the situation, to satisfy his ego and opts for new beginnings.
However, it comes as a major blow to him when he falls in love for the first time and gets his heart, broken too. Akash's ego comes crashing down and he realises the importance of his loved ones, whom he’d left behind. Better late than never, Akash returns to India to reconcile with Siddharth and prove that 'Hum dost thhe, hai aur rahenge. Hamesha!'
When Akash finally apologises to Sid, Sid says that he should do the same. But Akash says it's his turn that day and Sid can apologise later. Sid makes his peace with the fact that that’s how their friendship is going to be because 'waise bhi perfection ko improve karna mushkil hota hai'.
Sometimes, we try and read too much between the lines while watching a film and end up missing the most important point. Dil Chahta Hai makes for a refreshing watch even after 20 years of its release as we end up discovering something new, which we may have missed while watching the film earlier – the most important one being that friendships may not always be perfect and hunky-dory. It’s those very imperfections in a friendship that make it perfect.
A few years back, one of the Internet users psychoanalysed Dil Chahta Hai by drawing parallels with Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory. Akash, Sameer and Siddharth's characters were categorised into id, ego and superego respectively. When I read it for the first time it blew my mind but after re-watching the film, I couldn't agree more with it.
This led to my mind getting stuck at the Chapora fort scene which comes right in the middle of the Dil Chahta Hai title track.
The lyrics beautifully penned by Javed Akhtar which comes right after that scene say 'Kaisa Ajab Yeh Safar Hai, Socho To Har Ik Hi Bekhabar Hai, Usko Jaana Kidhar Hai, Jo Waqt Aaye, Jaane Kya Dikhaaye...' These lines are also an add-on to the conversation the trio has had on their friendship as even they don't know what the future has in store for them.
This is just a drop in the ocean of Dil Chahta Hai which can be decoded and analysed further in a number of ways possible, and that’s the beauty of a timeless story of three friends who are perfect in their imperfections even after two decades.