Movie Review: Dear Zindagi

Here's City 1016's Lokesh Dharmani's verdict on the film
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Movie Review: Dear Zindagi
A still from Dear Zindagi

Shah Rukh Khan

Read more about Shah Rukh Khan

STARRING: Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar
DIRECTOR: Gauri Shinde
RATING: Read yaar

A friend of mine once told me that we continue reacting to this world with the same map that we created as kids. People change, situations change but we still see the world with the same emotions that dominated our growing up days: love, fear, openness, suspicion or insecurity.

Dear Zindagi thankfully taps on the same issue, alas, drags a bit too much in the telling.

Kaira (Aaliya) is trying her best to figure out relationships, without quite knowing what causes failure in most of her romantic engagements. She consults a therapist Jehangir Khan (SRK) who dissects everything from her friends, family and childhood and finally helps her deal with issues.

I loved the basic premise of the film for its subtle, sensitive message on parenthood, but boy, the film is such a draaaaaag in parts, especially in the first half. Speaking of first half, Kaira is painted as a badly behaved character, who is rude to her parents, unsure with her boyfriends and comes across as an arrogant kid despite her warmth towards her maid and friends. Hence it becomes a bit difficult for us to engage with a character like this.

One understands her unreasonable behaviour has some history and is deeply rooted in an issue but before the director comes to it, you have already dug your face in the popcorn a million times and even restlessly checked your WhatsApp groups that have been kept on mute for weeks.  

She also has some quirks: she is clumsy, a hoarder and likes things messy but none of these are given any context or explained.

But Alia is a fine actor. Though the first half doesn’t do justice to the spark we often see in her, she nails it in a few long scenes, especially the confrontational scene with the family and an emotional scene with Shah Rukh Khan. She feels Kaira’s pain and she is so convincing when she cries. I particularly loved how she continued looking shaken after that emotional scene.

Shah Rukh Khan largely plays himself like how he is, all mature and witty in his interviews. The only difference here is that he is interviewing Alia. I felt he lacked the empathy of a shrink and sounded more preachy than he should. I also wished the therapy scenes dug deeper into Kaira’s life and were better written. Comparing human beings with chairs put the point across but sounded a bit too juvenile and unfair.  

Yashaswani Dayama plays Jackie, who is Alia’s best friend and is one of the most endearing characters in the film. She brings just the right amount of fun and foil to Kaira’s character.

And then there are some serious problems in the film. It callously cracks some jokes people with alternate sexuality; calls one such man a lady. One can see it’s done to just coax a few laughs and hence fails to humour. In fact, Kaira reacts to jokes on alternate sexuality rather sharply, '‘Can you listen to what you all are saying? It’s all rubbish.” I wondered if she also meant it for the writers.

There is also a clever reference to Alia’s glorious, successful career as an actor at such a young age and the director’s debut English Vinglish and a very in-your-face E Bay ad!!! And yes, a typical item number that has the word haseena!! Wow!! No, no, the joke is not over. In the next line, it rhymes with kameena!! Two minutes pause as good writing just hit the trash can.

We have seen Imtiaz Ali and Aamir Khan deal with the same topic in Tamasha and Taare Zameen Par, but Gauri Shinde gives it her signature and links it rather well with romance. It’s painfully slow but has some beautiful moments. Definitely makes for a good one-time watch! 

THE RATINGS MEAN:

5 stars: Loved it. (This could make to top ten movies you must watch before you die!)
4 stars: Liked it. Recommend it. (This will help you sound intellectual and give you stuff to add at water cooler conversations.)
3 stars: Didn’t hurt. Watch it once.
2 stars: It put me to sleep. Watch it if you are an insomniac or a newly wedded couple. Winks!
1 star: Do I even need to explain this?

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