Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Zindagi Na Milega Dobara


Finally it's here! I feel like I've been waiting to write this review since ages.
Let's not forget the FR: Liked it at a lot of levels, and it moved me too, but didn't touch me...

Three friends embark on a road trip in Spain that is to double up as a bachelor party for Kabir (Abhay) who has recently proposed to fiancĂ© Natasha (Kalki). Imran (Farhan) and Arjun (Hrithik) complete the troika of the three musketeers, who were once very close, but now awkward with each other due to old differences. The road trip acts as the vehicle for the friends to resolve past differences, rediscover each other and of course realize that “you live just once”.

Abhay Deol once again impresses with his ability to effortlessly slip into any given role and make it memorable. The fact that both the other main protagonists share a soft corner for him, and slightly cold vibes with each other, also help Kabir to come across as the most likeable of the three. The initial awkwardness between Imran and Arjun due to past differences somehow carries throughout the movie, where there is no warmth even when they reconcile. It’s Kabir running the show, who truly makes you believe that maybe, the three musketeers did exist.

Contrary to what most critics have said, this movie is not comparable to DCH simply because both movies deal with different issues. DCH was coming of age, ZNMD is about what happens after you've made your choices. What happens after you've proposed, after you work 16 hours in your dream job, earning millions...

The movie opens with Kabir down on one knee proposing to Tanya, who agrees to marry him. Elated, he  sets off on a bachelor trip with his two closest friends Arjun and Imran. According to a college pact, each person gets to choose one adventure sport of their choice, which the other 2 have to participate in. The chosen sport is a surprise till the friends reach the destination. 

With every silly prank they indulge in, and every crazy sport they survive through, the friends grow closer, rediscovering each other, and reconsidering decisions that they thought were fixed. Kabir finds his girlfriend changing completely, while Arjun wonders whether making money really makes him happy. The movie builds towards conquering fears and realizing that zindagi na milegi dobara.

Although it is easy to dismiss this movie as a typical “rich people doing cool things” Bollywood Yashraj fare, a deeper look reveals how true director Zoya Akhtar has remained to real life. For instance, in every vacation, one assumes that each moment is going to be picture perfect from the word go. But in real life, vacationers suffer from holiday anxiety and often end up ruining their holidays.

So do our main protagonists, when fast-talking, money-minded, severely hassled broker Arjun almost cancels the vacation due to his work, and mysterious rivalry with Imran. The first fight erupts as soon as they hit the road, with Kabir pleading with the other two to let bygones be bygones and not ruin the trip.

A special word of mention for Hrithik Roshan, as he plays a  rude, money-minded guy with a delicious nonchalance, making jibes about salaries without a thought to anyone’s sensitivities. At the same time, his vulnerability as someone whose life is governed by the clock and his phone pulls at your heart. His transformation then, when the beautiful scuba instructor (Katrina) changes his way of looking at life, is both believable and endearing.

Some of the most profound moments are captured during and after the adventure sports and Javed Akhtar’s poems lead a surreal charm to the excellent scenery. At the end of the first adventure sport, with the gorgeous Laila (Katrina) guiding the friends through a beautiful scuba diving experience, all four come back onboard their ship and sit in silence, barely looking at each other. Their relationship deepens here first, where they enjoy each other’s company, without speaking a word, which can only happen when you share a profound experience with someone. The scene is made even more beautiful with miles of water on all sides, the boat rocking gently and Akhtar senior’s poetry in Farhan’s voice, resounding with the soothing background music. 

When you travel miles away from your close ones, and experience something they haven’t, you can’t help believing that you’ve changed a little, forever. With this change in mindset, come doubts about almost every decision governing your life.  It is these doubts that Zoya truthfully brings out in this movie. 

The songs are mostly hummable, with senorita being the only foot-tapping number. This song also marks the high point in the camaraderie between the stars and the sexy choreography does add to the swoon factor. 

The three good looking dudes manage to steal your hearts, but unfortunately their chemistry leaves much to be desired. Akhtar’s jokes could have been funnier, and the dialogues at some point literally make you cringe. Katrina, however, looks gorgeous throughout and convincingly plays the part of a carefree scuba diving instructor who lives life to the fullest. Kalki also impresses as she switches between loving and manipulating her boyfriend with equal panache. 

The film’s USP is its superb cinematography, and the gradual warming of relations between the three friends. I could relate to it especially because of its core theme, which is that one should spend his/her time doing what one loves best. We often box ourselves in, conforming to society, following rules blindly and running in the rat race to achieve society-defined success. But the realization, that we live just once, can often come when least expected, and then turn our lives upside down for the better. Watch this movie for the fun ride of three friends as they rebuild lost friendships, rediscover nature and its beauty and realize what has been missing in their lives all along. You might find your perspective changing too...

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