Dear Zindagi is an inner journey you must embark upon

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Once while surfing TV channels, I chanced upon Anurag Basu’s ‘Life in a…Metro’. In the film’s climax, Irfan Khan tells Konkana Sensharma: “Yeh shehar hamein bahut kuch deta hai lekin badle mein bahut kuch leta bhi hai…” He prods her to loosen up, let it all go and scream her lungs out, atop a building. “Ab tumhari servicing ho gayi…” he concludes, in his inimitable style and embraces her. If one were to cull out this nugget to interpret it as a film, you’d get a gem of a movie called, Dear Zindagi.

Gauri Shinde’s latest film starring Alia Bhatt and Shahrukh Khan can be best summed up as: Relevant and refreshing. Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be better if we led a simpler life sans high aspirations? In our times, if a kid begins to match steps with certain film star, the parents are quick to predict that their child is born to rise and shine.

An A+ in Science subject at school convinces the student that he/she is the next Einstein. A college theatre performance alludes youngsters that they are destined to reign over the silver screen someday, only to later settle for a regular job and suddenly discover that life needn’t be that difficult. An ordinary life can also make one feel extraordinary.

We’re constantly motivated to take the ‘untrodden path’ – the difficult one and push our limits, do the impossible and emerge triumphant. At what cost? This pursuit for excellence often takes up much more than we might be willing to bargain for. Dear Zindagi delves into the terrain of soul-searching and introspecting on the decisions we take in life, the way we behave. And the root cause might be hidden somewhere within – buried in the grave of memories we wish to forget, but cannot.

Alia Bhatt has time and again proved her mettle with her craft. Pardon the blasphemy, but Alia Bhatt is the only actress of our times who can act. Before you write this off as a fanboy’s ode, you should see the way she emotes breakup scenes in ‘Just go to hell’ song, pulls off an encore of the chilli-eating act of Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam with veteran’s ease, hangs around with her beer-guzzling friends and breaks into an impromptu jig, the way she deletes more messages on her mobile than she types them, her interactions with psychiatrist Shahrukh Khan, and taking mental notes about his clinic during the farewell scene, and so forth.

A performance of this kind could easily become the textbook of acting for our actresses. When was the last time you felt this way about any other actress? All one can talk about is the way a particular heroine looked in a film, the way she carried herself in traditional or bold attire and so on…but never can we say anything special about acting prowess of other actresses.

Shahrukh Khan, when given an author-backed role, can throw in some serious surprises. The actor’s performance in Dear Zindagi can find its pride of place in the list of his films like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Swades, and Chakh De! India. The Kabaddi with sea, the counselling sessions and the scene where his character, Jehangir Khan enlightens Alia’s character, Kaira on the varied hues of relationship and reasoning why relationships don’t last longer these days are stuff classics are made of. Welcome back, Shahrukh Khan, the actor!

The character actors have been meticulously casted, be it Alia’s parents, relatives, friends and men in her life, i.e. Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor and Ali Zafar. The music by Amit Trivedi and lyrics by Kausar Munir stick out as a sore thumb, except for the ‘Just go to hell’ song. The bright side here is that the songs have been infused seamlessly into the narrative, and don’t hamper the film’s proceeding.

So, one can easily forgive the cardinal sin of messing up with ‘Ae zindagi gale laga le’ song penned by Gulzar and originally composed by Ilaiyaraaja in the film, ‘Sadma’.  Laxman Utekar beautifully captures Goa with utmost restraint. Hemanti Sarkar edits the film without letting the viewers go astray and lose focus from the film’s key characters.

To sum it up, the real ‘hero’ of Dear Zindagi is Gauri Shinde, the film’s director. After the brilliant English Vinglish, Dear Zindagi is a befitting reprise of role-reversal. While English Vinglish was about treating your parents right, this one has an important message for the parents. Yup, the parents can too be wrong and we must thank Gauri Shinde to break the clutter of those ‘Avatars’, ‘Jaisi Karni Waisi Bharnis’ and ‘Baaghbaans’ that we have been enduring all through our growing up years.

Dear Zindagi, though not as deep as ‘Goodwill Hunting’, is a film you should watch and pester all your friends to watch too – precisely what I am doing right now.

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