Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar, Aditya Roy Kapur
Director: Gauri Shinde
Producers: Gauri Shinde, Karan Johar, Gauri Khan, Apoorva Mehta
Writer: Gauri Shinde
What's Yay: Alia Bhatt, Shahrukh Khan, Direction, Cinematography, Songs
What's Nay: Sluggish pace of the narrative, a couple of stray notes here and there
Popcorn Refill: Strictly interval as you need to be totally engrossed in the film to connect to what's unravelling on the screen.
The Iconic Moment: Dear Zindagi has many defining moments. But for me, Alia's breakdown scene and the one where she confesses her feelings for 'Jugs' SRK are a complete show-stealer.
Plot: Kiara aka Koko (Alia Bhatt) is a cinematographer who aspires to make her own full length feature film someday. While the young girl is quite clear about her ambitions and dreams, her love life has an altogether different story to tell!
Kiara ends her relationship with Sid (Angad Bedi) after confessing to him about her fling with her film-maker friend Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor) while they were in Singapore for a shoot. She is totally smitten by Raghuvendra but suddenly lands up with confused feelings when the latter suggests that they should get serious about their relationship.
Further, things take an ugly turn and the two decide to part ways. Kiara's world comes crashing down as she continues to battle with serious commitment issues and her life choices and decisions.
A troubled Kiara zooms off to Goa on her parents' insistence to shoot a video for a hotel owned by a family friend. However, this trip turns out to be a life-changing experience for her when she encounters a psychologist, Dr. 'Jugs' Jehangir Khan at a conference on mental health and awareness.
Impressed by his unorthodox thoughts, Kiara starts taking counselling lessons from him to face her inner demons. Meanwhile, life gives her another chance to fall in love when she comes across a handsome musician-singer named Rumi (Ali Zafar). Sparks flow but Kiara still has some questions in life unanswered. Will Jugs' therapy sessions make her reveal her deep secret and help her in embracing emotions in their flawed form?
Direction: Let me begin this by saying that if you are looking out for some formulaic story, then Dear Zindagi is not your cup of tea. Instead, it is a beautiful compilation of phases of every struggling youngster and their never-ending issues in life.
Gauri Shinde's latest offering is a tale that's totally relevant in today's times. It deals with love, hatred, friendship, jealousy, insecurity and a lot of other things. Sadly, the director fails to whip up a perfect concoction of these elements and instead, delivers a remedy that just falls short of being the perfect solution.
At a run time of about two and a half hours, the film might test your patience if you fail to connect with it. The plot drags at a few points and becomes a tad boring. However, the crackling one liners and light-hearted dialogues make sure to comfort you in this not-so-smooth ride.
One needs to have a keen eye for detailing to understand why Gauri chooses to focus on the mundane day-to-day activities of her characters to make her point.
Dear Zindagi doesn't match up the brilliance of English Vinglish in terms of story-telling and execution but it does manage to warm the cockles of your heart and make you teary-eyed in a scene or two.
Acting: Alia Bhatt may have chosen a safe Bollywood debut way back in 2010 in the form of Student Of The Year. But the young girl has never developed a cold feet when it comes to experimenting with her roles in her later films. After Udta Punjab, she is back with yet another applause-worthy performance in Dear Zindagi which might strangely give you a déjà vu of her Highway act.
Alia is totally in sync with her character and wears it like the second skin. She gets the emotions bang on and you laugh and cry with her.
Alia's Kiara may be impulsive, wears a tough exterior and is vulnerable when it comes to her boyfriends (chairs) as she finds none of them comfortable enough to sit for a long time. But beneath this mess, deep down she is a scared girl with a not-so-happy childhood, finding it difficult to love and cope up with abandonment issues.
Watch out for the scene of her emotional outburst at her parents and that of her last meeting with 'Jugs'!
Coming next to the most important character, 'Jugs' Jehangir Khan played by Shahrukh Khan. We have grown up watching the superstar serenade his leading ladies in the Swiss Alps, spread his arms in the yellow-mustard fields and tell us that 'pyaar dosti hai'. However, Dear Zindagi's Jugs doesn't do any of these things.
Instead, he and his young patient play kabaddi with the sea waves on the beach to decode life. So, unlike SRK we have seen so far, isn't it? But that's exactly what comes off as a refreshing change. This time, he has some serious life lessons to teach and leaves us pondering over several thoughts that may have never even crossed our minds until now. Nevertheless, his raffish charm and that dimpled smile still makes us skip a heart-beat!
Kunal Kapoor and Angad Bedi churn up a dishy act, Ali Zafar will make your hearts flutter and oh, there's a bit of Aditya Roy Kapur too! (Sorry, we ain't telling you anything about him. *winks*)
Ira Dubey and Yashwasini Dayama, who play Alia's besties are at their effervescent best.
Other Technical Aspects: Gauri Shinde's writing needed to be crispier and a bit easy on the preachy part.
Laxman Utekar's breezy cinematography is a visual treat as he takes you on an enjoyable ride of small lanes and the tempting beaches of Goa through his lenses.
One wished that Hemanti Sarkar's editing scissors could have been a bit sharper!
Music: Jasleen Royal's husky vocals in Love You Zindagi makes up for a soothing hearing. Just Go To Hell Dil is for the heart-broken souls whereas Tu Hi Hai has a catchy vibe.
Verdict: There's a scene in the film where SRK's Jugs says to Kiara, "Bachpan mein jab rona aata hai....toh bade kehate hain...ansu pocho..Jab gussa aaata hai..Toh hum bade kehate hain...Give us a smile...Taki ghar ki shanti bani rahe...Nafrat karna chahate hain toh...Izazat nahi di..Tab jab hum pyaar karna chahte hain...toh pata chalta hai ki ...sara emotional system hi gadbada gaya..kam nahi kar rah hai...It cannot function." That pretty much sums up Dear Zindagi for you.
Go for it if you seek some comfort food with some philosophical ingredients in it!