Dil Se turns 23! Is the Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala starrer underrated or problematic?

Mani Ratnam's cult classic Dil Se clocks a full twenty three years today. The movie marked Preity Zinta's debut, and featured Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala in the lead roles. Right off the bat, the movie is beautifully shot. Anyone who is familiar with Ratnam's Tamil works knows that he has an eye for details and brilliant stills. Dil Se is no different. With such powerful acting and a soothing soundtrack composed by AR Rahman, it sticks in your mind.

The movie has, over time, gained a cult classic following. Many find it to be SRK's underrated work and believe it deserves more hype. It has even been called ahead of its time, but is it? A look at the storyline will tell you more. It's true that Dil Se would probably not see the light of the day in current times. It depicts a woman scarred by the trauma of being assaulted when she was younger. It takes into account the socio-political conflict and insurgency in the North-East.

The main issue is the characterisation. Manisha is not interested in SRK yet he wildly pursues her even after she says no, touches her without consent, and the power scenario here is disturbing. She's an ethnic minority while he represents the mainland. SRK's character supposedly loves her and even in the end where he chooses to "die" with her, had she had the agency to decide that? No.

What do you think? Is Dil Se iconic or problematic?