Film: Dear Zindagi
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama, Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Aabhan Deohans
Director: Gauri Shinde
Gauri Shinde’s second directorial effort has the stars- Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt, but loses out on credibility and sustenance. Coming as it does after her super sensational worldwide Box-office winner, ‘English Vinglish,’ it does appear like Gauri Shinde has short-changed herself in her efforts to go mainstream. While her sensitivities don’t appear to be impacted as much, the treatment and characterizations obviously suffer from the starry affect.
The story is basically about a brash twenty something budding cinematographer whose gamut of confusions include going to bed with a professional colleague, Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor), the Producer of the film she is doing patch-work cinematography for. Subsequent to that she is offered a position as cinematographer for a film shoot in New York which Raghu is producing but before she can come to any decision on that Raghu leaves for New York to be with his supposed ex while Kaira is left with second thoughts about the broken relationship with restaurateur Sid (Angad Bedi).
Things come to a head when she is forced to seek her parents support after her landlord evicts her unceremoniously- ostensibly because she is an unmarried woman who might cause problems for the society members. Stray issues are thrown in to make this effort topical but the idealistic nature of the fantasy that is played out in the name of sensitivity, seems quite out-of-touch with the reality that is India.
The setting is Goa, our heroine Kaira has temporarily relocated from Mumbai to her home-town to escape having to take responsibility for her follies and foibles. She is shown as pretty much insolent towards her parents, harsh in her criticism of their efforts to placate her and typically walks out whenever she doesn’t get her own way. Her free-thinking is a badge she wears on her sleeve — limited to her careless foray into relationships and compounded by her unforgiving attitude towards her parents.
She is a piece of work and needs someone like Dr Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) to help her see sense. Dr Khan of course (keeping in mind SRK’s larger than life image) uses a combination of listening therapy, motivational quotes and his own out-of-the-box ‘isms’ to fix the agonised psyche of the confused child woman coming for therapy.
The pre-interval half is pretty much entertaining — providing ample laughs and enough joi-de-vivre to keep you interested. Once the confused child woman starts showing signs of irrationality though, it becomes a little difficult to empathise with her. And the turnaround comes too soon to be believable. In fact the film feels like two different ideas being patched together in a futile effort to make it all more meaningful and deep.
Far too much narrative runtime is expended on giving Kaira her torments. It would have been much better in fact if it had all unravelled on the shrink’s couch instead, so-to-speak. Gauri Shinde’s treatment of the subject isn’t deep or satisfying. She skims the surface and makes her characters seem far too egoistic and self centred (and that goes for the Dr Khan too).
The onscreen confusion is such that it permeates into the minds of the viewer — leaving you with precious little to hold on to. But for the happy camaraderie between the three friends played by Alia, Ira and Yashaswini, the arresting presence of Kunal Kapoor, the aching heart-break displayed by Angad Bedi and SRK’s magnetic presence, this film would well have wound up a non-starter.