Akhtar conceived the film as a family drama with a brother-sister relationship as the core narrative. Akhtar wanted to showcase a more realistic portrayal of siblings relationship through the film unlike the dubious and over the top portrayal, for which Bollywood is known. She later co-wrote the screenplay with her longtime collaborator Reema Kagti. The Principal photography was extensively done on the Pullmantur Cruises MS Sovereign sailing across the Mediterranean and Europe as well as on land in various locations such as France, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and Italy.
The film was released worldwide on 5 June 2015 to generally positive reviews from critics. The majority of praise was directed towards the performances of the four principal actors portraying the members of The Mehra family (Kapoor, Shah, Chopra and Singh), cinematography and costumes. However, it received criticism for its length and the climax. The film grossed ₹1.45 billion at the box office.
The film received a number of accolades particularly for the actors. It received five Filmfare nominations, winning Best Supporting Actor for Kapoor. Dil Dhadakne Do also received nine nominations at the 2016 Screen Awards including Best Film, Best Director for Akhtar, and Best Actress for Chopra, winning two: Best Supporting Actor for Kapoor and Best Ensemble Cast.
Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) is a businessman who owns Ayka, a company on the verge of bankruptcy. He has a troubled relationship with his wife, Neelam (Shefali Shah) and his two children, Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) and Kabir (Ranveer Singh). The Mehra family also includes their pet dog Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan). Ayesha owns a successful business of her own, but is unhappy with her marriage to Manav Sangha (Rahul Bose), a controlling, narcissistic husband who, together with his mother Smita (Zarina Wahab), hates Ayesha's family. Kabir unwillingly participates in the family business even though he yearns to become a pilot.
In celebration of Kamal and Neelam's 30th wedding anniversary, they invite their family and friends for a 10-day cruise across the Mediterranean. Among their invitees are the Sood family, consisting of businessman Lalit Sood (Parmeet Sethi), his wife Naina (Dolly Mattdo) and their daughter Noori (Riddhima Sud). Kamal and Neelam plan to get Kabir married to Noori, in exchange for Lalit investing in Ayka.
They family along with all their guests board the ship from Italy. On the cruise, Kabir meets dancer Farah (Anushka Sharma) and begins a romantic relationship with her. Noori, on the other hand, is in love with Rana Khanna (Vikrant Massey), the son of Vinod (Manoj Pahwa) and Vandana (Preeti Mamgain). The Khannas, however, are sworn enemies with the Soods, so Kabir and Noori decide to manipulate their parents into believing that they are dating each other, while continuing with their respective relationships. Ayesha considers divorcing her husband, whom she believes is incompatible with her. Her parents, however, are staunchly against it as they believe it will dishonour the family. Meanwhile, Sunny Gill (Farhan Akhtar), the son of Kamal's manager Amrish (Ikhlaque Khan), arrives on the ship. It is revealed that Sunny and Ayesha dated each other as teenagers. Kamal, who was unhappy with their relationship, arranged and paid for Sunny to study abroad to separate his daughter from Sunny. Ayesha realises that she still harbors feelings for Sunny who is now a successful journalist. He, unlike her husband, appreciates her strong personality and believes in female empowerment.
Neelam sees Kamal flirting with one of the female guests, and wonders why she did not divorce him despite his past infidelities. Ayesha confronts Sunny about his sudden departure and ends up kissing him, which she later regrets because she is married. Meanwhile, Farah hears that Kabir is planning on marrying Noori, and ends their relationship. Elsewhere, Kamal spots Noori making out with Rana and has a fit, after which he is rushed to the emergency room on-board. At the clinic, Kamal tells Kabir that he saw Noori with Rana and asks him to not be involved with her anymore. Kabir admits to his family that he knew about the couple all along and that he is in love with Farah, a dancer and a Muslim. He also tells them of his intention to leave the family business and asks them to consider Ayesha, who is actually interested in business. He also tries to persuade them to let her proceed with her divorce as she is not happy with the marriage, but Kamal and Neelam still refuse on the grounds of their belief that marriages are lifelong commitments. Infuriated, Kabir reveals to Kamal that Neelam, Ayesha and himself were all aware about his adulterous pursuits and that Neelam has been bearing his infidelities and suffering emotionally in silence to save family. Kamal asks Neelam why she hadn't divorced him and she reveals that she had no choice as her family wouldn't accept her back due to fear of dishonour. Kamal realises his mistake, asks for forgiveness and consoles her. Later, while in efforts to reconcile Manav and Ayesha, Kamal sees how Manav ill treats his daughter and asks him and his mother to leave immediately. He agrees to the divorce and asks Ayesha for forgiveness.
Kabir tries to persuade Farah to forgive him for lying to her, but she ends up getting fired from her job for being involved with a passenger and is told to leave the ship. Kabir finds out about her being fired after the ship has set sail. Seeing no other option, Kabir jumps off the ship, aided by Sunny, hoping that his family will rescue him and help him get to the shore. Kamal, Neelam, Ayesha and their dog Pluto eventually find a lifeboat to rescue him. While departing, Ayesha asks Sunny if he would wait for her to which he replies "forever". The family picks up Kabir and heads towards the shore while being chased by the ship's crew. The Mehra family is seen happy in each other's presence for the first time.
The cast is listed below:
Excel Entertainment announced its slate of upcoming films in March 2012, one among them was Zoya Akhtar's next film following Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011). At the time, it was reported that she was working on a script with filming set to start in December 2012. However, Akhtar dismissed the reports saying she was yet to start writing her next script. In May 2012, media reports suggested that Akhtar had already started writing her next film. In July 2012, it was reported that the script was about siblings, partially based on Akhtar and her brother Farhan Akhtar. Farhan Akhtar later denied the reports of the film being autobiographical saying that the film has nothing to do with their real life relationship and that it is entirely a work of fiction. In November 2012, Akhtar revealed that she was still writing the script and that the film was a family drama.
Akhtar co-wrote the screenplay with her long time friend and collaborator Reema Kagti. Akhtar had always aspired to make a family drama with a brother-sister relationship at the core of the narrative, which she felt has not been well represented in Indian films. She felt that the brother-sister relationship bond has always been shown "wrapped in rituals", never portrayed the way it really is, saying "They generally have cheesy representations. They are never at ease. This is one of the most important relationships in the world because nobody else shares your parents. I wanted to show that relationship in Dil Dhadakne Do" Akhtar also wanted to showcase the quirkiness of a dysfunctional family, with different layers to each of the family member saying "the beauty of families lies in their flaws".
When asked whether the film had any similarities with her own life and family, she clarified that it had none and the only common thing was the bond between her and her brother to that of film's sibling protagonists but all their problems and conflicts were not similar. Akhtar, an avid observer, revealed that the film was partly fiction and partly a fictionalised version of the observation of around people her such as her friends, their families, literature and news articles and taking up even little details. Kagti and Akhtar revealed that they got a lot off stuff from observing people of Delhi, where the characters are from, during their friends' back to back elite class wedding parties during the time they were finishing up the script and took notes about the behavior and demeanor of the people and incorporated in their script. After they had locked all the character, they felt that something was missing, so they chose to add the family Dog Pluto as an observer.
On being asked about interweaving travel in the narrative, Akhtar revealed that she and Kagti wanted a device for the narrative to bring all the characters (the entire family) together. She explained that the film could have been set anywhere such as a hill station or any other place but they chose to set the film on a Cruise ship because then the characters would not be able to leave and are stuck together. Akhtar said that it was a metaphor for the bigger journey that every family undertakes. Similarly in the film, the characters are stuck together on a Ship in the middle of an ocean and could not leave even if they want to. Akhtar has revealed that the reason behind selecting the film's title Dil Dhadakne Do was that she wanted a catchy title which could be easily identifiable.
During the initial scripting phase, in May 2012, media reports suggested that cousins Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor were approached for playing the onscreen siblings and had accepted their parts. In late December 2012, Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif joined the cast to play their love interests, respectively. In June 2013, Ranbir Kapoor dropped out of the film due to scheduling conflicts with his other projects. For his part, Ranveer Singh was approached for the role. It was then reported that after her cousin dropped out, Kareena Kapoor was having double thoughts about starring in the film as she was initially excited to star alongside her cousin. The same month, she also opted out of the film. She claimed that the film required three months and could not stay away from her family for three months for an outdoor shoot on a cruise, calling her decision "her loss". In late June 2013, Akhtar later approached Priyanka Chopra for the part. Later in October 2013, Anil Kapoor was confirmed to play Chopra and Singh's father in the film and Dimple Kapadia might join him to play his wife.
In December 2013, Farhan Akhtar confirmed that he was playing a crucial role in the film. In January 2014, Anushka Sharma was cast for the role of Singh's love interest. Actresses Madhuri Dixit, Tabu and Raveena Tandon were all approached to play Chopra and Singh's mother in the film; although they liked the part but they eventually turned down the role as they did not want to play a mother. Akhtar later approached Shefali Shah for the part, which she accepted. Newcomer Ridhima Sud joined the cast in June 2014. Few days later, Rahul Bose was cast to play Chopra's husband in the film. Zarina Wahab joined the cast to play Chopra's mother-in-law. Parmeet Sethi was later cast in an important role. Although meant for s surprise, the details about Aamir Khan's voice-over performance as the family Dog Pluto was leaked before the film's release. Javed Akhtar had initially provided the voice-over for Pluto. However, after watching the film weeks before the release, Akhtar asked him to do the voice-over and the actor accepted the role without any hesitation saying "I had loved the film so much that I was just happy to be a part of it … I think it is a great film to be part of.".
As compared to the rest of the cast, it took Akhtar a lot of pursuing Anil Kapoor to sign the film. Akhtar pursuaded Kapoor for an entire year to get him agree to do the film as he liked the script. Akhtar's brother Farhan and father Javed Akhtar also spoke to him regarding the role. However, when Aamir Khan approached him from Akhtar's behalf, he finally accepted the apart. Kapoor described his role of Kamal Mehra as a "manipulative patriarch" and a businessman, who "has no qualms about manipulating people, even his own family members, to achieve his goal". He said "Kamal is a self-made man and does not want to lose the empire that he has built so painstakingly and will do anything to save it." Kapoor found playing his character very exciting as the character was completely opposite to he is in real life; a patriarch whose company comes first and not the family as opposed to the exact opposite in his real life.
Shah has described her character, Neelam Mehra, as a "Delhi elite society queen bee" with multiple layers, saying "It looks like nothing can put a chink in her armour, but inside, she is a vulnerable and lost person." She has said that her character shows artificial side about her marriage with her husband while facing the world as opposed to her behavior in their home: "It's not one of the best marriages. She hates what’s happened to both of them. But when they come in front of the world, she will stand by her husband." Her character is someone who discriminates between her son and her daughter explaining "She is evidently partial to her son. With her daughter, she displays a mentality typical of many Indian mothers. Even though her daughter is in a bad marriage as well, she discourages her from taking a divorce." Shah has said that the reason behind saying yes to the film was Akhtar and the script saying "It was one of the best scripts I had read in a very long time. It was sharp, wicked, and emotional, without being melodramatic." For preparing for her role, she formed a skeleton of her character by working/forming the back story and the personality of her character.
Chopra has described her character, Ayesha Mehra, as strong but also feminine and gentle noting her inner strength. She said that her character has complicated emotions in the film, saying "She has no idea what she wants and she keeps changing her mind, probably like most women. We change our minds so often and that is exactly what Ayesha does. She doesn't know which direction to go in. She actually has no opinion on love or marriage, but just wants to be able to feel that she can be loved. Chopra had to shed her muscle weight which she had gained for playing the boxer in Mary Kom (2014). She said "I was not muscular but had acquired bulked-up physique. I had to be in right shape as I was playing a girly role. I had to [...] go on a crash diet and lose shape." Singh has described his character, Kabir Mehra, as a privileged, "born with a silver spoon" kind of person who wants to pursue different things other than inherit his father's fortune. He said "Ever since his childhood, he was raised to take over his father's company. But this isn't what he wants to do. He loves planes, he wants to be a pilot. Because of this miscommunication he is in a lot of pain." Khan described Pluto as a "very philosophical" Dog, who is "really into observing human nature and has a take on everything".
The Principal photography began on 17 May 2014 on the Pullmantur Cruises MS Sovereign throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, specifically in France, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and Italy. Filming on the ship was done over a period of non-consecutive five weeks; the cast and crew members would board the ship at Barcelona and would film the scenes while sailing on water to different destination, five different places in five weeks. After travelling to new destinations, the cast and crew would shoot the on land scenes on those various destinations. The on land filming took two months before wrapping on 18 July 2014. The filming was done over a course of ninety days, finishing in early August 2014. The second and final schedule began in mid-August 2014 in Mumbai and was completed on 23 September 2014.
Filming also took place in several locations in Turkey such as Antalya, Cappadocia and Istanbul. For one scene set in the Sophia Museum in Istanbul, the tourists and the Museum's staff were roped in for the sequence, which took six hours to film. For another sequence featuring Chopra and Bose's characters playing squash, Chopra had to learn the sport on set; Bose helped her learn the sport. The pre-production work was a heavy challenge for the makers as they had to pre-plan everything in detail; Akhtar along with with her team went on a recce to find the perfect places to shoot the film before the production had started. Akhtar found the filming unforgettable saying "Can you imagine the whole crew is in a new country everyday! That is what it is like to be on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. It was logistically insane, visually gorgeous and emotionally cathartic."
Neil Patel handled the production design. Akhtar's frequent collaborator, Carlos Catalan, provided the cinematography for the film. Anand Subaya and Manan Mehta edited the film. Arjun Bhasin designed the costumes for the entire cast. Bosco–Caesar choreographed the songs. The entire song "Gallan Goodiyaan" was shot in one take within five minutes. It required detailed planning and choreography; proper rehearsals was done by the cast before filming the song.
Dil Dhadakne Do's soundtrack was composed by the trio Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy and Javed Akhtar wrote the lyrics. The album consists of five original songs. The vocals are performed by Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Sukriti Kakar, Siddharth Mahadevan, Shankar Mahadevan, Yashita Sharma, Manish Kumar Tipu, Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan, Vishal Dadlani, Divya Kumar and Alyssa Mendonsa. It was released on 2 May 2015 by T-Series.
The soundtrack received generally positive review from critics, who labelled it more of a narrative based rather than a chartbuster. Chopra's singing in her first proper Hindi song was also lauded by critics. Joginder Tuteja of Bollywood Hungama gave a rating of 3.5 out of 5 calling it "a classy soundtrack" which was unadulterated when it came to quintessential Bollywood "scheme of things." The Times of India also gave it a rating of 3.5 out of 5 terming the compositions "foot-tapping and swingy". In an another positive review, Filmfare felt that the composers had done a good job despite the hurdles, noting the limiting setting of the film. Koimoi rated it 2.5 out of 5, calling it a mixed bag. However, it praised the songs "Dil Dhadakne Do" and "Pehli Baar", noting them as standouts. The reviewer wrote that Chopra particularly "impresses with her vocals" in the former song.
Dil Dhadakne Do was one of the highly anticipated films of 2015 owing to the star cast involved and the success of Akhta's previous film. The first look teaser poster showing from behind the six pivotal characters and a dog sunbathing on a cruise deck was released released on 21 July 2014, almost a year before the scheduled release. The poster didn't reveal actor's look instead made the audience puzzling about the actors from the behind frame. Few days later, the first full poster revealing the actual position of the actors from front was revealed. In April 2015, seven character posters were including one for the family Dog Pluto. The poster reveals garnered lot of buzz for the film. The trailer release was highly anticipated in the media and Industry as the plot was kept under wraps.
Emphasizing the theme of the film, Akhtar and Kapoor hosted private special screening of the trailer for their friends and family. The official theatrical release posters were released before the trailer. The almost three minutes official trailer was finally released on 15 April 2015 and garnering over one million views in less than 24 hours. The trailer was well-received by the media and the Industry people, who deemed it promising with NDTV writing "With exotic locations, sweeping views and grand sets forming the perfect backdrop, Dil Dhadakne Do seems to be a heady cocktail of romance, drama and tears and will perhaps be 2015's most dramatic film." The Indian Express called it "overwhelming" and wrote "The top-view of the cruise line with expansive ocean as the backdrop, stunning foreign locales and beautiful people in their stylish best make for compelling visuals. But scratch the surface, and you find a dysfunctional family trying hard to act normal to the world."
The film was released on 5 June 2015 in 2300 screens worldwide on a budget of ₹830 million. Box Office India noted that due to film's niche content, it is likely to perform better only in Metropolitan cities of India as opposed to small centers but predicted that it had a much better prospects at the Overseas box office. The film had decent opening, with collections of ₹100 million on its opening day. The collections jumped 20% on its second day collecting ₹120 million and another 20% on its third day with collections of ₹140 million for the opening domestic weekend of ₹360 million. The film recorded the highest overseas opening of the year for an Indian film at the time of its release collecting ₹195 million in its opening weekend. Notably, the film debuted at number 9 at the U.K. Box Office, where it earned $330,000 in its opening weekend. The total worldwide opening weekend collections stood at ₹675 million, making it the top worldwide opener among Indian films at the time of its release. On its first Monday, the film help up its collections, dropping only 40%, earning another ₹57.5 million. The film earned ₹550 million in its first week at the domestic box office and over ₹980 million worldwide. In its second weekend, Dil Dhadakne Do earned ₹100 million. During its theatrical run, the film grossed over ₹1 billion in India and a further ₹450 million worldwide, for a worldwide total of ₹1.45 billion.
Distributed by Big Home Entertainment, it was released on DVDs on 30 August 2015 in all regions in a two-disc pack in NTSC widescreen format, with bonus content such as the making of the film and deleted scenes. A VCD version was released at the same time. The film's Blu-ray version was released on 5 September 2015. Dil Dhadakne Do had its Indian television premiere on 24 October 2015 on Zee Cinema.
The film received generally positive reviews, receiving praise for the cast' performance, humour, cinematography, costumes and direction but received criticism for its runtime and climax. In a 4 star review for Mumbai Mirror, critic Kunal Guha described the film as an "emotional roller-coaster", comparing Akhtar's direction to that of Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, and praised the performances of the cast. Bollywood Hungama gave the film 3.5 stars, praising Akhtar's direction for "[pulling] off such a magnificent film with such utmost ease." Rajiv Vijayakar from India-West gave a rating of 4 stars describing it as "entertaining with stellar performances", praising Akhtar's direction and wote "Zoya gets the emotions right by making the entertainment riveting and the experience full of many perceptive insights into basic relationships". Shubha Shetty-Saha of Mid-Day gave the film 4 stars, and praised the story, stating, "If this film looks like an entertaining, escapist film at the outset, it is, but it is also much deeper than that". She also praised the performances, especially Chopra's and Singh's, writing "These two blazing talents are magical when they come together sharing what perhaps could be one of the best sibling chemistry in Hindi films."
Srijana Mitra Das of The Times of India gave the film 4 stars, also praising the performances of the lead actors, and reviewed, "On this ship, a few bolts could be tighter. But these are fleeting clouds on an otherwise beautiful sea, hosting a cruise...while searching beyond Bollywood's emotional Botox for a family's warts - and its heart." Writing Hindustan Times, film critic Anupama Chopra rated the film 3.5 stars praising the performances, particularly of Kapoor, Shah and Chopra, and the high production value, writing ""There are soaring top shots of the ship, of gorgeous towns in Turkey and Greece, and of staggering fashions." Rachit Gupta of Filmfare described the film as a "spunky comedy, straight from the heart", attributing the performances of the lead actors as the prime reason for the film's success. Sonia Chopra from Sify also gave 3.5 stars, calling Dil Dhadakne Do, a film with "robust heartbeat", praising Akhtar's ability to create "real and interesting" characters and wrote "Zoya Akhtar brings in several delightful elements of her filmmaking style—there's the gorgeous cast playing interesting characters, the overt and covert equations between them, the hints at societal hypocrisy and sexism, the romance, the gorgeous locales, and the measured pace."
Film critic Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave 3 stars, particularly praising the performances of the lead actors, especially that of Kapoor and Shah terming them as "absolutely riveting " and the humour in the screenplay, concluded that the film is "easy and breezy, and packed with terrific actors who appear to be enjoying themselves", although he did criticize the pacing and climax of the film calling it "silly". In a 3 star review, film critic Mayank Shekhar of ABP News found that "patiently drawing out emotions from every character" made the film "horrendously long [and] too languidly paced", although he did call the film ""intensely real, intrinsically adult, with several sharp observations about relationships and life". Scoring the film 3 stars, Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com wrote that Dil Dhadakne Do "unravels like an entire season of soap opera condensed into a nearly three-hour movie" but found it "too facile to rise above the charming fluff". Ritika Bhatia of Business Standard wrote that the film "does have its enjoyable moments, but with a three-hour runtime, it fails to sail the high seas", and termed the film "ambitious" but "meandering". Conversely, Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters called it "Akhtar's weakest film yet, because she tries to tell too many stories at once and tells none entirely". Sarita A. Tanwar of Daily News and Analysis gave the film 2.5 stars, and wrote that the film would have "been a lot of fun [if] had it been shorter, crisper and less indulgent".