Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi
Director: Gauri Shinde
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Oh Dear Gauri. Not a film I was expecting it to be. Why screw up a simplistic storyline with an over cooked psychological lesson? The film begins in a way that shows it won’t be a typical Bollywood narrative but ends up exactly being that.
OK. Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is an amazing cinematographer (so we have been told) who wants to direct films. Well, in personal life, she is reluctant to have a long term relationship. In fact, she actively hates it. Frustrated with the failed love life, she takes a break and stays with her parents in Goa for some days. Here, her life takes a turn when she meets Jahangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), an unconventional psychiatrist and she starts looking at things in a different and simple way.
The script begins with some realistic aspects. Kaira’s love for camera, her modern lifestyle, and her fast and failed relationships are carefully crafted. It gives an interesting premise for us to witness which is relatable in today’s brief romantic lives. After a while, it becomes pretty clear the reason behind Kaira’s fear of relationship but that doesn’t lessen the interest in the narrative.
Dear Zindagi would have been another simplistic masterpiece from Gauri Shinde after English Vingish but she tried to experiment excessively with Jahangir Khan’s character. His psychological lessons are never ending and dragged out. The writing should have only focused on Kaira’s life and her problems. So many unconventional lecture type screenplay took away all the fun from the movie. Maybe the script deliberately gave extra vitality to SRK’s role to please his fans but in that effort, the film lost interest.
So, as a director, Gauri begins the first scene like an actual shoot of the film and gives a clever introduction of Kaira. Seriously, that was smart. Kaira’s character was perfectly depicted as a complicated person who is independent and ambitious and also, she can have a good love life but she chooses not to. Kaira is a girl who likes to keep things messy, be it a relationship or books and other stuff at her house which is her way of living life. Gauri lets us delve elegantly into this character and her realistic problems. But, the supporting cast doesn’t help. They are weakly written and executed and only add irritation to the plot.
Image Source: Red Chillies Entertainment
Dear Zindagi becomes highly interesting when Kaira meets Jahangir Khan. His unconventional ways of therapy and his initial conversations with Kaira were delightful. Trust me, these are the moments where you truly enjoy the film. But, then Gauri loses her focus and needlessly assign more importance to Jahangir’s role. It’s not that we don’t enjoy Shah Rukh Khan on screen but this story doesn’t call for it. Gauri should have shown how Kaira actually learns things from him and starts using in her life. Most of the time, they are roaming at a beach and keep their lengthy talks in a house which are dull.
Also, it took infinity for the film to arrive at a point when Kaira actually starts enjoying her life with that ‘Love You Zindagi’ song. The second half was very messy and unstructured. It was a needless addition of Rumi’s (Ali Zafar) character. And what’s up with all the people from her past coming together in the closure scene? This is not expected from Gauri Shinde.
I won’t take anything away from the screenplay department. Except for some boring dialogues Jahangir Khan says, rest of the conversations of him talking about his father and the story about a mountaineer guy were amazing. Editing for most of the part is good but some shots are closed abruptly, giving a sense of incompleteness.
Alia Bhatt is a beautiful gem that is shining and evolving with each film. She was mind blowing with her acting skills. A cinematographer, reluctant to fall in love and a complicated person, all these roles are delivered realistically by Alia. The second half is where her performance truly impresses when she exhibits her outrage while confronting her parents. Another scene is when she starts crying in a session with Jahangir Khan. It takes a great deal to make a mark when you have a legend like Shah Rukh Khan sharing a screen with you and Alia excels all the way.
Shah Rukh Khan was brilliant as a psychiatrist. His atypical ways of therapy suit his personality. His calm and smart display and effective conversations with Kaira give a deep meaning to Jahangir Khan’s role. Kunal Kapoor was great with his smart looks and a sense of humor. Rest of the cast was good but nothing exceptional.
Dear Zindagi delves appreciably into the modern life of love and family and how to tackle them but Gauri Shinde fails to make it an effective topic. She should have focused only on Alia’s character but extra care to SRK’s role and their stretched psychological screenplay bore you. It has some exceptionally good moments but on a macro level, the film doesn’t click.