Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Genre: Dramedy
Rating: 3.5/5

Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise azad hain hum; Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna seekho

Har ek lamhe se tum milo kholey apni baahein; Har ek pal ek naya samaa dekhi yeh nigaahein.
Jo apni aankhon mein hairaniyaan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum

Live it up, the poem said; and as the title suggests Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a message oriented film in the garb of what seems like a desi Hangover. So there, it definitely is not a laugh riot. The story by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti is about three bachelors heading to Spain on a bachelor party-trip, being boys and but mainly, getting in touch with their inner souls to realize their needs. Abhay Deol is the groom-to-be, and Kalki plays his would-be. Hrithik plays a corporate slave based in London who lives money. Farhan is an Advertising Copywriter who has just learnt of his real biological father based in Spain. Beginning their road trip in Spain amidst old issues, mundane lives, but primarily under the stress of unanswered questions and fear of the unknown – to each their own, the troika knows to have fun (under the watchful eyes of the censor board) whilst catering to their ridiculous pact – each individual to choose an adventure sport that the other two will take part in. What comes of it is a sense of being and inner peace, and an attitude that helps let yourself go.

PERFORMANCES: 

The lead characters are very well-etched and as how one would be perceived in real life based on their profession, their social standing. Hrithik Roshan as Arjun, a London based Financial Broker is an emotional person on the inside, with an exterior toughened by the past. He is determined to remain committed to his passion – get rich. Hrithik’s not-so-often-seen cocky, presumptuous and patronizing avatar is new and very convincing. Of course, there are other tones to Arjun’s character – a romantic, a dancer, a connoisseur, a party boy, and most importantly, a caring friend – but all this, Hrithik does with ease. What stands out is Arjun few minutes in, after the road trip begins, the rude guy. Farhan Akhtar does something new this time as Imraan, and is somewhat reminiscent of the Karthik Calling Karthik dude. This Advertising Copywriter based in Delhi is the happy-go-lucky guy among the three, and probably the most emotional of all three. Farhan’s body language is modest, probably owing to Imraan’s character. Imraan is not a hero, he is definitely not the story’s anchor, but Farhan must be credited for keeping it real, for playing protagonist in brief silent lapses.

Abhay Deol as the groom-to-be and as a rich Mumbai based Architect is perfect for how Kabir conducts himself. Well-mannered, soft and generally concerned about others’ well-being (most visible trait), Kabir the fiancé is a stronger impression than Kabir the friend. Abhay is popularly known for his performances as a carefree character, but Kabir is somewhat new, if not remindful of his character in Manorama. Kabir is the only other from-your-life type of character. Not the last and not the least, enter Laila whose motto in life is Carpe Diem. Katrina plays this London-based fashion student and part-time diving instructor. Even with minimal make up, Katrina looks stunning and manages to grab eyeballs among a bevy of male stars who are pretty good at acting/emoting. Zesty is Laila’s middle-name, and in a certain way, she helps the story progress and for the characters to show their other shades. Kalki as Natasha probably has one of the more clearly defined characters. Natasha is Kabir’s would-be, an interior designer by profession with a taste for mostly finer things. Kalki, with her unconventional looks suits the character well. As the hypersensitive and possessive fiancée, Natasha is a character most guys would love to hate and Kalki does just that by playing the character to the hilt. Suffice it to say the three male stars have equal screen-time and similar presence.

DIRECTION, SCREENPLAY & CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Director Zoya Akhtar has already proved her mettle in directing a multi-starrer, but ZNMD takes her a notch higher for stitching together an emotional tale, while keeping the script lite. This film primarily has a class appeal, and charms the youth. Not idealistic at all, the story does not make any overtures to grow every single character through echelons of time. Zoya ensures ZNMD comes across as a slice-in-a-life type of a film, and nothing more. Ascertaining characters must have been the primary challenge and establishing their professions helped. Zoya’s research and attention to detail is very impressive, be it Spanish culture specifics like the language, La Tomatina, San Fermin, or even Farhan’s Google search page being the local site. References to jokes that youth of today may crack jokes such as accent-induced pronunciation follies of their teachers from school/college or recollect and nostalgize over the classic Doordarshan TV channel theme. But there are areas that Zoya does not convince us. For example, Imraan going after his new-found father bit is the most unwanted portion of this film, without any good coming of it. On a broader scope although it is a big personal issue for any normal being, it doesn’t fit into the story very well. Second, it’s a little confusing why all three take up their own individual adventure challenges in the same trip – must have been reserved for each of their bachelor trips. But overall, Zoya helps the story progress continually without any script errors.

Screenplay
 by writers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti. Some of the heavier moments are not enacted, but are corroborated by poetry (in Farhan’s voice), and by song sequences. The screenplay is also heavily supported by the performances. Although, it feels if the characters were happier, there would be better and sprightly screenplay, but guess the characters had to be one specific way only to transform eventually. Dialogue is very contemporary, easy to understand and relate with. The scenes flow in a logical sequence; with the only goal to help the characters find happiness within them. Cinematography by Zoya camp member Carlos Catalan (also DOP of Luck by Chance) is very refreshing. Visuals not seen before in Hindi cinema are one reason. And yes, there are the hyped up lip-locks. Even if Kalki-Abhay had not confessed, theirs is absolutely ignoreable. Hrithik-Katrina’s happens in a jiffy and is nothing murderous. Sorry if I fizzled it out for you, but I’d expect the result to match the hype. Carlos does make the scene appear natural and in good taste. The colors- the blue roadster, the Spanish countryside, the snorkeling/diving session, the skydiving, the waters, La Tomatina, Running of the bulls, horses galloping on ranches along the highway, the cobblestone streets, liquor bars and the road trip iself are adequately captured to give a sneak peak into the Spanish pedestrian.

MUSIC: 

Shankar Ehsaan Loy have provided musical score. The songs don’t themselves propel the story but are a decent diversion. There are many Spanish sounds (accoustic guitar, most prominently), a flamenco song ‘Senorita’ which has been sung by the trio, pretty well actually. The mood of all songs is focused on the positive; seem to convey the same message – ZNMD. Music does not hog any limelight in the film, but the background music by the same folks (SEL) is probably the better product in comparison with songs, with some acoustic guitars and especially because the script feel is light although the underscoring theme is philosophy.

Why 3.5/5: 

ZNMD focuses on the message and does not get lost in what could have been a mish-mash of love stories, weddings, bachelor party humour, and lot more. The message is underlined progressively through screenplay – appreciating relationships, and doing what you like. There is good amount of humour, the classy feel, the bachelor holiday in Spain, enjoying the local culture, the moments, the intermittent poetry during brief silences, the jealous would-be, the lively new woman in your life, a loving Spanish girl with you can’t converse with, a country’s natural landscapes and the coastline, the natural progression of the relationships, and the performances help add up to 3.5. The negatives are – an unwanted detour like the newly discovered biological father, the average music and possibly the crabby lives of the three main characters, when they set out. But overall, it is a film that is not preachy yet does just that, helps you know that never again is there going to be another you!
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  • "What is this..movie reviews and all? Chaa!! Do you ever think outside films?" - if this is exactly what you are itching to ask, may I interest you in my other blog Sandeepish?
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