Dear Zindagi- Movie Review
Posted by Vivek on November 27, 2016 | No Comments
FILM – Dear Zindagi
DIRECTOR – Gauri Shinde
PRODUCER – R. Balki, Karan Johar, Gauri Khan
WRITER – Gauri Shinde
CAST – Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Kunal Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi
MUSIC – Amit Trivedi
At one glance ‘Dear Zindagi’ looks like a fancy, glossy story of the problems of the urban elite and seems to address a certain section of the audience too, with the language it chooses to use. On a deeper glance it is doing a greater service by bringing into common parlance the word ‘therapy’ and validating its need. On a level beyond that, it turns around and does this very noble intention gross disservice by reducing emotional journeys into neat filmy packages through over-simplification garbed as ‘accessibility’.
Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is an independent, young girl, cinematographer by profession, having a troubled relationship with her parents. Rolling in and out of dissatisfying romantic relationships, she happens to land up at a mental awareness seminar while visiting her parents in Goa. The speaker, Jehangir Khan (Shahrukh Khan), a professional therapist catches her attention for his unconventional ways. She begins her tryst of undoing the knots of her life with his help.
The film then takes us through her issues, piecemeal, going deeper, revealing layers but forgetting to connect the core with the exterior by the time it ends. With every layer revealed we come closer to Kaira’s journey. With every piece of advice Jehangir offers we see the perspective shift he is nudging her towards. Unfortunately, and as is wont in Hindi cinema sometimes (or maybe it’s our ritualistic culture), every advice becomes a ritual, a magic wand that Kaira applies and whoosh her problems begin to melt. We remain as remote to her inner journey (and its inherent complications) as we are to her parents’ journeys, a deliberate omission or oversight is difficult to say, nevertheless it reduces the import of the message and the impact of the film manifold.
Gauri Shinde had already displayed an assured hand at direction, and an intuitive understanding of her female characters in her debut film ‘English Vinglish’. With “Dear Zindagi’ her command over direction and engaging characters is refreshingly consistent but unlike EV, there seems to be a bogey of an ‘objective’ (mental health awareness) over the truth of the film, its world and its characters. However, Alia Bhatt with her crackling spontaneity and un-self-conscious performance infuses flesh and blood into her Kaira, making her appealing with all her beauty and warts. Shahrukh Khan gets to display his innate charm unbridled, and he does so with lip-smacking relish. It is a treat to watch King Khan in a role and a film that does more for him than milk his ‘Raj/Rahul’ image.
The film has its shares of eye candy, tall, handsome men (Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Aditya Roy Kapoor) who saunter in and out of Kaira’s life at the convenience of the script. It does add to the superficiality quotient the film cannot hide (add to it the disappointingly me-too music of Amit Trivedi), one that renders a serious world of transformation into a populist, Coelho-ist affirmations one. However, given the entire nature of the film, this does not feel too out of place; merely adding to the warm, good-looking, feel good world of the film. It also does not feel too awkward because at the end all we are left with is the good intention of the film. And a warm feeling of the victory of the vulnerable.