Posts Tagged ‘ Gauri Shinde ’

Dear Zindagi

dear-zindagi-poster

Dear Zindagi
Release date: November 25, 2016
Directed by: Gauri Shinde
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Yashaswini Dayama, Ira Dubey, Shah Rukh Khan, Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar

In one of the myriad marketing campaigns before its release, the film’s protagonist Kaira’s character was pushed as a ‘verified’ profile on a dating mobile application. All with a descriptive bio about her profession, likes and pet peeves, and pretty stills of Alia Bhatt from Dear Zindagi. Perhaps, in a bid to humanize her on-screen persona, unlike the “heroines” of the past, where a constant effort was made to sanitize and idolize the woman, as an object of desire and worship.

Gauri Shinde’s Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is a cinematographer with fluttering romantic interests, and a remarkable ability to disconnect from these men when they tend to get “serious”. After one of her another shocking departures from a dishy manbun sporting Raghavendra (Kunal Kapoor), Jackie (a charming Yashaswini Dayama) lectures her in an inebriated stupor on how he was the ideal ‘match’ for her. Creating a verbal checklist of qualities that she saw in him, only 2% of the world’s population is good-looking, why would Kaira want to give up on someone who’s in that precious creamy layer.

Of course, Kaira doesn’t have definite answers for her actions, her reasons still unfounded. After being on a momentary career high, things come crashing down for her, thus forcing her to get back to her parents in Goa. Her friends call her the world’s only person who’s averse to the idea of a trip to this Indian beach-haven. Once there, she is faced with exaggerated shaming and cornered into submitting into a wedlock, she continues to act out like a rebelling teenager and a part disgusted young, rich adult. Texts filled with hate, multiple exclamation marks, she types and backspaces before hitting the send button; bottling all her angst for an ex, a landlord, and another ex.

Faced with sleepless nights, she chances upon a gig for a family acquaintance’s hotel, that’s coincidentally hosting a mental health awareness summit. As she waits for the summit to end, she makes light of the serious medicinal jargon being spewn inside. Enters Dr Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) in his torn jeans and a scoop-neck t-shirt under his hoodie. Fascinated by his ‘different’ approach towards the business of secrecy and whispers around Rorschach tests, Kaira decides to start seeing him for therapy.

After an elaborate build-up, commences the most fulfilling and, simultaneously, cliche sequence of therapy where Khan repeats lines that we may have come across in TV shows, novels, and even agony-aunt columns in newspapers/magazines. But then, it hasn’t ever been Shah Rukh Khan telling us why we need to date people, opting out of very complex situations, and not letting our past blackmail our present into ruining our future, the pulp of Indian Uncle Whatsapp forwards. His character’s wit still subdued from that of his personal and public high-standards, yet as mature as a wise and accomplished fifty one year old.

Kaira’s development from flagging off her sessions by the classic “I’m asking this for a friend.” and evolving into letting off details of her anxieties and insecurities, slowly, is the fruit of Khan’s casual approach to his job. Not sure how many real shrinks would take their patients on long walks on the beaches of Goa; though, a comfortably-dressed Khan playing Kabaddi with the waves is endearing. The grandeur of a superstar doesn’t take away sheen from what is Alia Bhatt’s virtual diary. After Udta Punjab, she is back to playing a rich-kid, albeit with an underlying professional ambition, to reduce the shine from her character’s economical affluence, only slightly.

She settles into the skin of Kaira, a frustratingly confused millennial, haunted by a fear of abandonment from deep-rooted emotional upheavals. Her character’s journey is complete with a graph of metamorphosis, a little too good to be true, and a song-and-dance flourish to top off the film with a traditional cherry, when it consistently takes the path of being “off-beat”, where even the cliffhanging point of an intermission is also punctuated by a lack of any real conflict.

A trade-off between commercial filmmaking and a settled indie approach is thus achieved. The chopping of the loose flab of commercial celluloid cellulite could have easily rendered a tauter, and an equally relevant film about mental health issues, and the stigma attached to it, in a Hindi film universe, where we still continue to portray mental asylums as either pits of hell filled with delinquents possessed by spirits, or just sparingly exploited for comic relief.

In a society that continuously awards a person who shuts the lid on their vulnerabilities, Dear Zindagi asks us to be accepting of our life’s miseries as openly as we put ourselves out there in a dating pool with billions of other people, hoping to be that one snowflake who captures the imagination of the most right-swipes.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

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