Dear Zindagi Movie Review: Alia’s performance saves the film from becoming a snorefest
Star Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Ali Zafar, Kunal Kapoor
Director: Gauri Shinde
Producer: R. Balki, Gauri Shinde, Gauri Khan
Story & Screenplay: Gauri Shinde
Music: Amit Trivedi
Cinematography: Laxman Utekar
Editor: Hemanti Sarkar
Rating: 2.5/5 – One time watch for fans of SRK and Alia!
Like: Alia Bhatt gives another fine performance to brush away any doubts anybody had about her acting skills. She and Shahrukh Khan share a charming chemistry. The film has a few real good songs and the cinematography is always picturesque.
Dislike: The film tests your patience often as the plot is thin and lacks depth. The second half is verbose and the dull and mostly banal dialogues make things worse.
Story: Kaira is a budding cinematographer not short on either skill or ambition. She sleeps with the star of her project in Singapore and her guilty consience forces her to call it quits with her boyfriend. It is then we come to know that a sprightly and confident Kaira is an emotional mess underneath. There is something deep inside that has been troubling her for long.
She is forced out of her house for being a single woman in Mumbai and shifts back to her home in Goa. Kaira is a misfit in her family and doesn’t get along well with either her parents or her other close relatives. But in Goa she finds a therapist Jehangir Khan (Shahrukh Khan) who helps her fight her inner demons.
Screenplay/Dialogues: Unfortunately, the weakest part of the film is something that should be its strongest. Gauri Shinde’s screenplay required a lot more work. The film begins well with us being introduced to Kaira – young, confident and smart cinematographer. When you are surprised by the film not judging Kaira despite sleeping with a man, you feel that you are in for something special. But after the first 30 mintues or so the hopes are dashed.
The film, then, moves along at a snail’s pace and much to our disappointment the plot is wafer thin. Even the presence of someone as charming as a Shahrukh Khan is not enough to hold our attention. Dear Zindagi becomes verbose in the second half and the dull, banal dialogues make it worse.
Direction: Directing her own script Gauri Shinde tries to mask the lack of depth in her storytelling with prettiness. Everything in the film (apart from Kaira’s past and present) is pretty with a capital P. It is like how a girl gets insecured with a pimple on her face and tries to hide it with make up. But the make up ends making the pimple look all the more obvious. Each and every frame of the film has a cosmetic prettiness to it. The production design, costume all are very pleasing to the eye. Only if so much work was put on the screenplay Dear Zindagi would have been a much better film.
Cinematography: Laxman Utekar has been given a task of making every frame pleasing to the eye and he is up to it. Be it the brightly lit outdoor shots of scenic Goan beaches and roads marked with palm tress, or indoor shots of Alia and her friends home Utekar’s camera makes every thing look postcard perfect.
Music and Lyrics: The Ali Zafar song is the pick of the lot. Amit Trivedi has done a fine job with the other songs too.
Star Performances: If there ever was a doubt in the mind of anyone that Alia Bhatt is not just another starlet but an actress with solid acting skills, this performance of her’s would put that to rest as well. She is there in practically every frame of the film and her acting is by far the brightest spot. Alia plays the outwardly confident and even slight snobbish, but inwardly an emotional mess girl expertly. It is her portrayal of Kaira that makes you care for the character as the screenplay does little in that respect.
Shahrukh Khan is not playing the superstar in this film and that is a refreshing change. But his charming presence as the dimpled therapist is marred by the mostly dull and banal dialogues. And he has a lot of them. Only in a few scenes like the one where he teaches Kaira to play kabaddi with the sea we find him at his natural best.
Final Verdict: Dear Zindagi is a film held together by Alia Bhatt’s superlative performance in the lead role. Sharhrukh Khan’s charm is marred by poor dialogues. The film ends up being too thin and tests your patience with its long running time. It also adopts a rather simplistic approach to a subject as complex as depression and childhood trauma..