After her brilliant directorial debut ‘English Vinglish’, writer-director Gauri Shinde is back with yet another sensitively crafted and remarkably directed slice of life film- ‘Dear Zindagi’– which helps us to understand that there is nothing called a ‘perfect’ family or a ‘perfect’ relationship and that life’s beauty lies in finding joy in the so-called ‘imperfections’ of life…
Though the film basically deals with the ‘relationships and break-up issues’ of our young protagonist Alia Bhatt, it ends up exploring the intricacies of how the relationships we form at various levels and at different times in our lives ultimately impact us in our behaviour. Every viewer will find something to take home from the film and therein lies the beauty and simplicity of the film’s narrative. It makes us look deep into the recesses of our mind and question ourselves, confront our worst fears, relive our happy memories and learn to find joy and happiness in little things that ultimately matter the most. The film also tells us to stop being too judgemental about others and at the same time not to be affected by what others think of us otherwise we will keep putting a false front and end up being dishonest with our own feelings.
Alia Bhatt is a young, smart and extremely talented cinematographer who dreams of doing big things professionally. She is full of creative ideas and wants to make her own films and is just waiting for the right break. She has a group of close friends with whom she hangs out with but her romantic life is in a mess. Her relationships never work out and after a point her break-ups start getting to her physically and emotionally. She loses her sleep and gets cranky. The very concept of love starts irritating her and almost starts questioning her own sanity! She has issues with her family also which not only prevents her from getting any understanding from them but also results in bottling up her emotions inside her all the time.
That’s when she realizes maybe she needs some counselling and decides to meet a therapist Dr Jehangir Khan. The rest of the film is all about their therapy sessions where he gets her to open up. We watch her change from a reluctant youngster unwilling to share anything in her first meeting to confessing her innermost feelings and emotions as she slowly begins to trust him. He lets her do the talking offering interesting anecdotes and stories making the sessions interesting. He helps her pick up her threads and guides her in finding the missing jigsaw puzzles of her life. Their session takes them outdoors as well as they go cycling and spend time on the beach and she starts appreciating life for what it offers.
THE FILM’S USP
The brilliant casting is the biggest plus point of the film. Alia Bhatt never ceases to amaze! This is her third outing this year after ‘Kapoor & Sons and ‘Udta Punjab’ and yet again delivers a flawless performance. Her dialogue delivery is so unbelievably natural that at times it is difficult to believe it is not real life but a film we are watching. Her raw and honest vulnerability is so appealing that she gets us hooked on to the journey of her life from the very first scene. Her ‘breakdown’ and ‘confrontation’ scenes once again reiterate her supreme talent and her ability to tackle a variety of characters.
Shah Rukh Khan seems to be on a spree to do off-beat roles this year. First it was the double role in the song-less thriller ‘Fan’ and now in a character role sans his trademark outstretched arms! As the therapist, he lights up the screen every time he comes with his innate charm and pleasing persona. He has taken up a role befitting his age and his effortless charisma adds a special magic to the otherwise ordinary role. Their on-screen chemistry is unique and indisputably superb!
The rest of the cast is also up to the mark creating the right atmosphere for the story. The natural camaraderie and understanding between the friends is captured beautifully. The three men in her life have varying roles to play. It was good to see Kunal Kapoor after a long time and he looks handsome and fits the role very well. Angad Bedi has an almost ‘blink and you’ll miss’ role. Ali Abbas Zafar gets to sing two songs and is also perfectly cast.
The dialogues get a ‘thumbs up’ and the music though not outstanding is quite apt for the situation, especially the song ‘Love you Zindagi…’ which stays with us long after we leave the hall…
A FEW MORE THOUGHTS
The subtext of the film also tells us it is okay to approach a therapist for any mental/ emotional dilemmas in life and not to have any stigma attached with people who consult psychiatrists and not to label them as being mentally ill either. Sometimes all a person needs is a listener who will give them a patient hearing and try to help us see life from a different perspective.
So many young girls around us go through several relationships and break-ups trying to find that one ’right’ guy who will make them feel special and loved and also allow them to be free of pretence. As a society even today we frown upon such things and just want that the girl should ‘settle down’ at the earliest. We have rules which decide what the perfect ‘marriageable’ age is for a girl before which things need to be sorted out. As a society so obsessed with marriage it is strange that we don’t seem to allow girls to find their own way.
We may have gone through such a situation in our lives or now may have a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a friend or a neighbour going through this kind of crisis and we could do our bit by altering our perspective by not judging them blindly for we all know-each is fighting his/her own battle of survival in life…
It requires guts to make a film not conforming to the box-office diktats, sensitivity to touch upon such a topic and sheer talent to come up with something so refreshingly engaging… So kudos to Gauri Shinde!
Well worth the ticket price!!!