We’ve seen many films about life. Still, there’s a lot to be explored yet because of many different perspectives of people. Dear Zindagi is one such take on life by Gauri Shinde.
Kaira (Alia) is a cinematographer/camerawoman who’s a complete mess with family issues, irritating career advices and a string of failed relationships. She meets Jehangir Khan (Shahrukh) in Goa who’s a therapist. The rest of Dear Zindagi is about how Jehangir helps Kaira to find herself and overcome her fears to stand strong.
Dear Zindagi could’ve ended up as an amazing film if not for the partly clumsy writing in first half and few pace issues in the second half. This is a conversational film just like that of an Imtiaz Ali’s where the conversations between characters play a major role in taking the narrative forward and making us believe and invest our time in them. Lines like “Why we choose a difficult path even when an easier path is available?”, “Don’t let the past blackmail the present and ruin a beautiful future” and “How do you express love, when all your life, you’re told not to express the emotion you’re feeling – hate, anger, sorrow?” worked like magic for me. But, at the same time there are few lines which felt synthetic. What Gauri gets absolutely right is the characterisation of Kaira and the casting.
Kaira is complicated, irrational, depressed, stubborn and a mess. It always feels good to see independent, non-stereotypical women characters. Though we don’t get instantly convinced with her problems given her charming life in Mumbai with not much professional difficulties, it’s Alia who brings Kaira to life just as what Sridevi did in English Vinglish, Gauri’s debut film. Alia is the heart of Dear Zindagi. Though Shahrukh is irresistibly charming giving the life lessons, you can never get your eyes off her. Generally, in difficult scenes, actors tend to push themselves a bit to get that emotion right. But, even in some of the most difficult scenes, you can see Alia ease through beautifully and naturally without much effort. When she confronts her family and breaks down talking about them and her childhood, I’m sure you’ll get emotional. It reminded me of her performance in Highway’s climax.
From giving love lessons like “6 din ladki in” in Kal ho naa ho to giving subtle life lessons in this film, Shahrukh did it all. As his character aptly says “In this puzzle of your(Kaira’s) life, I’m just helping you find the pieces. You’re the one who should finish the puzzle”, he lets Alia take the front seat and guided her till he was required. Those who’re a mess in life will surely want one Jehangir in their life.
Amit Trivedi’s music and background score is beautiful and it enchanced the film. Especially the title track and “Go to hell”. A very special mention to the girl who played Jackie (Kaira’s friend) who’s outright hilarious and also to the three men in Kaira’s life – Sid (Angad Bedi), Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor) and Rumi (Ali Zafar). One additional good thing this film offers is to remove the stigma attached to mental health and therapy. It’s something we see very often these days in urban areas where people are suffering from depression due to many reasons but not accepting to consult a therapist since they don’t think of it as a medical problem.
On a final note,
Dear Zindagi is not perfect. But it makes you laugh, cry and I’m sure when you exit the theatre, there’ll be a smile on your face.
I’m going with three stars.