Review | Dear Zindagi – Stuck between moments of brilliance and disappointment

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  • Release date: 25 Nov 2016 (India)
  • Director: Gauri Sinde
  • Language: Hindi
  • Music by: Amit Trivedi
  • Rating: 2.5/5

Image result for dear zindagi official poster

You know you’ve come far in terms of a Bollywood film when for a change, you find a leading lady’s character being introduced by her profession. We first meet Kyra at her workplace and then in the bars and parties. Quite early on, its thrust on us that Kyra has a problem with commitments. In the first ten minutes, she breaks up with Sid (Angad Bedi) after revealing to him that she cheated on him and later she bails on giving Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor) a crisp answer about getting serious.

What follows is her dealing with the recent break-up with Raghu and an entire first half is wasted in this. On the other hand, we are time and again shown a strained relationship between her and her parents.

At first, you think she’s just riddled with some love life issues that drive her to seeing a therapist, only to later learn that her tough childhood is responsible for all of it.

What Shinde tries to do is pack a lot of hefty learnings in one script. Such as importance of parenting in shaping an individual, being open to seeking mental health or societal acceptance for a girl with multiple relationships and a budding career.

Unfortunately, they don’t all blend seamlessly in the film.

The contextual build up is unnecessary and constant in the film. Jehangir Khan’s character being introduced at a ‘Mental Health Awareness’ conference is completely stupid. Also, the jokes that he cracks there are far too immature.

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Overall, the humor element is too forced and Kyra’s uncle asking her if she’s Lebanese instead of Lesbian is too shallow a joke.

The focus all through remains on Kyra and hence her love interests, Raghu (Kunal Kapoor), Sid (Angad Bedi) or Rumi (Ali Zafar) get no background whatsoever.

Jehangir’s character gets preachy at most occasions and that’s a sign of how bad a therapist he actually is. Hell, he’s even seen discussing his personal issues with her, which is a big ‘No, No’ in his profession.

Dear Zindagi has its heart in the right place, it just gets stuck in the rut. Ridden with cliches such as a gay visiting a shrink (to help him accept himself), to a software engineer her family introduces to who calls himself Surrresh in accent is simply ridiculous.

Dialogues like Jug saying “Genius is knowing when to stop” say much more than needed and keep coming as a pleasant surprise in the film.

STAR PERFORMANCE

Alia Bhatt is talented no doubt and gives a measured performance in this film. She particularly shines in the scenes where her character breaks down. We are reminded a lot of her Highway character in certain scenes, such as the one where she confronts her family, although this time, you don’t really feel the same pain.

Shah Rukh Khan as the uber cool shrink, Jug is simply adorable. Flashing his dimples, playing his age and a matured dressing, all put him in the likable category. His character gets preachy but still remains to be the spark in the story.

Kunal Kapoor as Raghu, looks the enticing young man. He does his job well and I wish we could have seen more of him in the film.

Angad Bedi is hardly there for two scenes in the film as Sid, one of Kyra’s boyfriends. He has nothing to do, other than just look good.

Ali Zafar’s act as Rumi, the musician is likable enough. One could say he looks like the perfect rebound guy! 

Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayma are decent in their supporting roles.

Aditya Roy Kapur’s cameo is charming.

DIRECTION AND MUSIC

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After a film like English Vinglish, expectations from Gauri Shinde were sky high. In case of Dear Zindagi, I’d say another director bites the dust. The simplistic charm of Gauri’s filmmaking in her debut is lost to glamour and crowd pleasing tricks with this film. 

The first half hardly establishes anything and the entire ‘Just Go To Hell Dil’ sequence is much like Deepika Padukone’s Tamasha act in ‘Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’ minus the latter’s maturity.

Friendly conversations between Kyra and her friends keep revolving around her life and that seems unnatural.

Much like the teasers, the scenes of Kyra’s meetings with Jug are the most interesting bits and particularly powerful in the second half. Kyra’s breakdown is shot brilliantly and will leave everyone with a lump in their throat.

Cinematography by Laxman Utekar is simply superb. He captures Goa and its natural vibe of breaking free rightly. Also, the entire sequence of Kyra’s dream is shot nicely.

Clocked at 149 minutes, Dear Zindagi stretches unnecessarily and should have been wrapped up in two hours considering its content. A lot of portions in the first half could have been chopped off for this. 

Amit Trivedi’s music is a delightful mix with this film. Ali Zafar’s ‘Tu Hai’ and ‘Tarefon Se’ are two songs that are bound to make you smile.

LAST WORD

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Finally, amidst huge expectations, the film is bit of a disappointment with some areas of brilliance.

Check out the trailer here –