Dear Zindagi – A Review

Image result for Dear Zindagi posterGauri Shinde directs Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan in Dear Zindagi, her sophomoric film after the incredible English Vinglish. In the days of big budget star vehicles aimed at the hundreds of crore at box office filmmakers like Gauri are a welcome relief when they make what are essentially indie movies with a heart.

 

We are introduced to Kaira, played by the ever charming Alia who is an up and coming cinematographer who is brought in to do patch work on an assignment because the main cinematographer has fallen ill. We see her impatience and almost combative nature when it comes to looking for a big break to shoot her own movie. To put her visual stamp on something of her own. There are hints of a budding romance in the awkward conversations she shares with Raghuvendra played by the handsome Kunal Kapoor. Alia breaks up with her current boyfriend Sid a restaurateur played by Angad Bedi after confessing to have slept with Raghuvendra. Through her maid we are led to believe that there is an ongoing parade of handsome men who go in and out of her life, spending a brief moment being tacked on a pin-board. The first quarter of the movie is spent setting up the millennial context of independent living and being free of conventional moral guilt. Kaira is surrounded by a pack of very interesting characters, there is Fatima the stylist, Jackie the rich bohemian kid, A troubled teen coming to grips with his sexuality and the token Fat nerdy friend. Yashaswini Dayama who plays Jackie is absolutely precious as the counterpoint to Kaira and Ira Dubey as Fatima is wonderful as well. Kaira is kicked out of her rented apartment because the society has decided not to rent flats to bachelors, another millennial struggle. Reluctantly she moves back to Goa to stay with her family and this is where things come to a boil. Rohit Saraf who plays Kiddo, Alia’s brother is hugely effective in a tiny role.

Image result for Dear Zindagi ira dubey

Through curious coincidences she ends up listening in on Dr. Jehangir Khan talking about Mental Health. Being unable to sleep Kaira books an appointment with Dr. Khan. Dr Khan, aka Jug played by Shah Rukh Khan is surprisingly Vegan – devoid of all Ham and Cheese that is trademark SRK. In a very restrained and refined performance Jug unpicks the complicated cross-wires of Kaira’s life. This is where Gauri Shinde’s subtle direction really shines. For viewers who are familiar with western dramas it might come across as a bit clichéd but in the Indian context there is a sense of novelty. There is commitment phobia, familial conflicts, sibling jealousy, dreams of falling off buildings. Every single situation feels organic and not forced. There is no mocking, no sermonising, even the one situation where there is a gay character is handled surprisingly sensitively.

Image result

 

To me English Vinglish was one of the best debut movies and even the best movie of 2012. There was absolutely nothing that I could find fault with. With Dear Zindagi there are a few things that left me wanting more. While the songs of English Vinglish were lyrically contextual they were still incredibly memorable and hummable, not so with Dear Zindagi. Only “Love you Zindagi” has any appeal. For a movie whose main character is supposed to be a talented cinematographer the cinematography in the first quarter of the movie is surprisingly subpar. But these two minor misgivings are quickly forgotten when Alia is onscreen. It is hard to believe that Alia is only 7 movies old. She is immensely watchable and extremely relatable. The range she has exhibited from Student of the Year to Udta Punjab is incredible. She has mastered the art of emotional outburst, first seen with that pivotal scene in Highway and now with this scene around the dinner guests.

Dear Zindagi, Dear Zindagi box office collection day 2, dear zindagi movie, Dear Zindagi box office collection day two, Dear Zindagi box office movie collection day two, Dear Zindagi movie box office collection day two, Dear Zindagi box office, Dear Zindagi collection, Dear Zindagi total collection, Dear Zindagi first day collection, Dear Zindagi movie collection, shah rukh khan, alia bhatt, Dear Zindagi shah rukh khan, shah rukh khan Dear Zindagi, alia bhatt Dear Zindagi, Dear Zindagi alia bhatt, entertainment news, indian express, indian express news

 

Hopefully thanks to Alia the taboo subject of mental illness will become more of an open discussion in India. Gauri Shinde’s nuanced direction and sensitive portrayal does more than just pay lip-service to the subject. With this movie Shah Rukh Khan understands that this is where his talents are more suited to. The definition of entertaining is different for different people. I found it massively entertaining seeing actors and the director at the top of their craft. Even if this is not entertaining in the conventional sense this is in my opinion an important movie, a movie that pushes forth an agenda rarely touched upon openly and does so in a way that is palatable and relatable and frankly beautiful to look at. This is the therapy we all need.  This the grown up letter to life that has evolved from the pages of a teeny angst-filled diary.

Image result for Dear Zindagi

Chashme Baddoor – A Reivew

Fiurst-Look-Poster-Chashme-BaddoorDavid Dhawan the maker of all the No.1s with Govinda returns to Bollywood after a long hiatus with his attempt at remaking the classic Chashme Baddoor and it appears the laziness in the remake isn’t limited to the unoriginal title.

Not having seen the original which everyone who I spoke to remembers fondly I went in as a blank slate ready to be transported to the typically David Dhawanian utopia where pelvic thrusts are a professional qualification second to none. In that aspect I wasn’t disappointed there are pelvic thrusts and then some and most of them come courtesy Siddharth who plays the wannabe actor Jai

Pelvic thrusts aside there is very little that is reminiscent of the David Dhawan of the past. Dhawan specializes in mass-appeal, loud, self-deprecating humor that is at times annoying but mostly enjoyable fare with not a lot of grey-cell workout required.

The three friends are played by Ali Zafar, Siddharth, and Divyendu Sharma and object of their affection is played by newcomer Tapsee Pannu. Ali Zafar who ruined a perfectly enjoyable “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” is relentless in his endeavor of ruining another movie here. For someone as good looking and talented (in my books if you can sing you are talented) he is wooden and unlikeable in every shape and form as Sid. He tries to channel everyone from shah rukh khan to dev anand and the end result is less than successful. Divyendu who shot to fame with his angst-ridden Nishant in Pyaar ka Panchnama is equally annoying as the shayaari spewing Omi. Neither of his 50000000 Shayaaris is funny. The southern superstar Siddharth who garnered favorable reviews in Rang De Basanti manages to expunge the last of the carried forward good-will with this role. New-comer Tapsee is thinned down version of Zarine Khan in both size and talent and that is saying something for Tapsee’s talent as Zarine is practically size-zero in the talent department. Everything is loud and crass and thoughtless.

Why does Anupam Kher do movies like these? There are surely better things that are offered to him as the premiere character actor of Bollywood but for every Wednesday he does another 50 Chashme Baddoor. Here in a double role which serves no purpose he is doubly wasted. The only bit of charm and genuine warmth to be sought comes from Rishi Kapoor and Lillette Dubey as the past-prime singletons they are charming in the limited time they spend on screen but again it begs the question what purpose do these characters serve other than the mandatory Chamko reference which also seems as out of place as the hair-do on Zafar’s head during the final song.

Speaking of the music – it is mostly unintelligent noise which assaults your eardrums with the power of a super-sonic jet. The editing is non-existent and the entire movie seems like a giant puzzle which a 2 year old put together trying to force pieces where they don’t belong. Continuity is left in the cold storage on the same shelf as coherence and consciousness – sample this – in each of the flashbacks – the girl’s clothes don’t change but the guys are all wearing different outfits, as the forlorn lover when Zafar walks in with a bottle of alcohol it is clearly a screw-top bottle but when they pop it its magically turned into a bottle of champagne.

The anti-Tobacco PSA which played at the starting of the movie and during the intermission were more enjoyable than the entire movie and that is the final insult I can hurl at this waste of time and money.