Movie Review: ‘Dear Zindagi’ makes you go ‘Dear Movie’

Dear Zindagi is a mirror of the youth of today.



Sometimes there are films that do not have much of a story, yet are so beautiful in conveying the complexity of human relationships and emotions. One looks at those films and sees himself/herself in the characters and laughs, cries, and loves with them. The newly released Dear Zindagi falls into that very category.

Directed by Gauri Shinde of English Vinglish fame, and wife of director R. Balki, Dear Zindagi is a mirror of the youth of today. Often times, we find ourselves confused about our relationships, how we feel, and how to tackle our conflicting emotions. We seek a place where we can find ourselves and find answers as to why life is the way it is. Ultimately, it is us who make things harder for ourselves. We are bogged down by the past and we actually need to look toward the future and start afresh. This is the core message of the movie, a message that actually should resonate not only with the youth, but each and every one of us.

I was excited the day the movie was announced simply by the sheer might of the people involved. Of course, Alia Bhatt and Shahrukh Khan are the main draws, but I was also intrigued by the announcement of Kunal Kapoor and Ali Zafar in the cast, both underrated actors. Karan Johar and Gauri Khan were the producers, and they are both known for producing highly profitable ventures, meaning the film couldn’t go wrong in terms of entertaining. Most of all, knowing that Gauri Shinde was the director, I was excited to see SRK do a film outside of his comfort zone of romance and masala. His next few projects are all diverse, starting with this one, and I was looking forward to seeing what the real actor in him now desires to do.

Dear Zindagi tells the story of Kaira aka Koko (Alia) who is a commercial/film cinematographer. She has real commitment issues, faces many questions about her life choices and decisions, and in a time of need, does not know where to go to seek help. Enter Dr. Jehangir “Jag” Khan (Shahrukh), a psychologist with unorthodox methods, who Kaira begins seeing for help. Does Jag help Kairasolve her problems? Does Kaira find the love she is seeking? What is driving Kaira’s restlessness? See the film to find out.

I think it would be an understatement to say that Alia performed well. At such a young age, she is showing the maturity a performer shows after 30. This film rest solely on her shoulders, and she delivers in each and every scene and with each expression. She is completely believable as a normal, every day young woman going through the journey of life. One particular sequence, where she bursts out against her parents, is incredibly done. If she does not win “Best Actress” this year, it will be a tragedy.

SRK is his charming self as Jag. It is an interesting choice for him to make as a superstar, to play a therapist with absolutely no larger than life attributes. He does not even sing a song or dance. In fact, the beauty of this character is that one never really learns much about him. Why is he the way he is? What is his backstory? Why is there pain and eccentricity in this character’s demeanor? The mystery behind this character makes him all the more interesting and, truthfully, because the focus is on Alia, there was no need to learn more about him. He is a supporting character. However, his mere presence is enough to satisfy audiences and make them wonder at the same time. SRK is there throughout the movie, but is not the lead. Yet, he leaves an impact.

All of the supporting actors, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, AngadBedi, the actors playing Alia’s parents, uncle & aunt, and the talented people playing Alia’s friends are superb. Very natural and expressive.

The music by Amit Trivedi is adequate and situational, but nothing that you would really carry home. Editing is perfect and crisp, as is the cinematography. Goa is captured very beautifully in a simple way.

Gauri Shinde is an absolutely incredible director and writer. From a script standpoint, she keeps the film moving, very tight, and very true to life. There is nothing “filmi” or “coincidental” in this. Everything could happen, a rarity for a Bollywood movie. There is nothing superficial about any of the performances, and the fact that the film relies on emotion over story to drive it is a tough act to bring forth convincingly, but Shinde succeeds 100%. She proves that in addition to being a great technician, she has a deep understanding of human emotion as well. Sometimes a movie only needs a heart, and this is one of those. Absolutely brilliant!

There were no real flaws that stuck out to me, besides maybe the ending needing to be just a little bit tighter. This film is not really what is considered “mainstream”, and one gets the feeling that this type of movie falls under the genre of cinema that Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee used to make, a welcome from the heavily westernized Hindi films that one sees today. In fact, I would call this movie the Rajnigandha of today.

Go with your family to see this film today. It has everything to make you think, cry, and smile. I give it a 9/10.

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