Dear Zindagi- Bundles of Joy and Bliss

The end titles rolled on the big screen. My heart was slightly ‘burdened’ with bundles of joy and bliss. I suddenly felt like I have understood what life was all about. I got off the seat, took the stairs that led to the exit. Once I was out of the darkness-filled theatre, I felt the warmth of light on my face. I walked a few steps ahead. And I realised I was teary-eyed, I was sniffing. I touched my right eyelid and more tears poured out like rain droplets from the surface of a leave after a heavy downpour.

Honestly, it was a pretty lengthy film. There were not much of any ‘revealing’ aspects. There was more telling than revealing. It was straight forward. The repetitive preaching or lecturing or advising as how some would perceive it, were in abundance in the 2nd half. It may seem like the film has packed a lot of hefty learnings in one script, struggling to blend seamlessly in the 2nd half of the film. However, besides these minor flaws, ‘Dear Zindagi’ takes a journey through life- right from childhood, memories, relationships, restrained relationships with parents, the struggles you go through, the depression you are trapped into knowingly most of the times unknowingly.

I felt like I was reading the diary of Kaira (Alia Bhatt), the fiercely independent and talented cinematographer who wanted a mark in the industry, yet not given the opportunity simply because she was a hot member of the weaker sex. The first half was beautifully weaved in building up Kaira's character and the portrayal of her struggles especially as an unmarried girl living in Mumbai pursuing her passion and the strong support she had from her friends and her domestic helper added to the realistic flavor.

Every scene in the first half was itself a feel-good short story on its own. If the director had chosen to shoot one scene as a short film, undoubtedly, it would have made all sense to watch that one scene. That just shows what good writing is all about. 

A film is materially the same set of images and sounds and it should ideally provoke slightly different reactions from each person who sees it. Director Gauri Shinde provides the viewers with a spectrum of emotions to pick up and hold them closely to their hearts. One of the reviews I read, mentioned the lack of depth in Alia’s role because she didn’t look like a depressed person. Probably that was the different (or rather common) reaction from people. Alia appeared as a happy-go-lucky woman but her heart has been wounded. She laughs. She makes other people laugh. She drinks. She dances. She thinks. But she is confused. A person suffering from depression need not show just signs of being worry all the time. And that was very well-displayed in ‘Dear Zindagi’.

The dialogues of this film were strikingly stunning and marvelous. Each one soothes the soul and heals the heart. Lines like, 'don't let your past blackmail your present to ruin your future', keeps you peeled to the screen. Additionally, it is the playful rapport that a counsellor(SRK) and his patient (Alia) share that makes for 70mm delight. Of course my favourite line is, “If you don’t cry whole-heartedly, how would you laugh whole-heartedly?” Kudos to writer Gauri!

Alia Bhatt

Kaira explodes in anger at one point when someone describes her as a pataka (firecracker). Well, that’s precisely what Bhatt is – a pataka with pizzazz and verve. What makes her so impactful is that she has had an internal journey with each of her roles so far, and not so far allowed that journey to be overshadowed by her attractive personality. Kaira is simultaneously exasperating and endearing, and Bhatt remains in control of that blend throughout.

When you stand on the beach, inhaling the fresh air and relishing the cool gust of wind enchanting you, tousling your hair and your heart,  you don’t want that moment to stop right? Watching Alia perform, is exactly that. You just want more of that. You just can’t get tired of what she has to bring to the story. Sometimes I wonder if directors working with her really need to write anything on the screen paper for her part. All they need to write is “Scene 7- Alia emotes.” And Alia, the master of emotions, knows how to elevate that scene to a whole new level. Another highlight of the film is that how it never lionizes its female protagonist but celebrates her despite her many flaws - from cheating on her boyfriend to losing her cool and being rude.

It is apparent that the 51-year-old actor has embraced his space and age with dignity. He still packs in his signature flourishes, such as loudly drawing in breath during a dialogue and his sputtering laugh — bursting out like a machine gun. But the bearded badshah is now distinctly restrained, somewhere between Swades and Kal Ho Naa Ho — indie and masala — just the optimum mix. When one of the biggest stars in the history of Bollywood appears on screen about 40 minutes after the opening credits, it goes without saying that this is an extremely unconventional film.

It is not just about giving the first credit title to the actress on screen and intentionally making it a constant effort to prove that men and women are equal, but by producing this film, SRK has gone one step ahead in achieving gender equality in an industry which doesn't seem to believe in one.

This is what I wrote in my review after watching the devastatingly soul-ripping FAN:

Dear SRK,
you brought us to TamilNadu in Chennai Express
you brought us to Dubai in Happy New year.
you brought us to Bulgaria in Dilwale.
you brought us to Croatia in Fan.

When will you bring us to a soul-stirring, entertaining and intelligent cinema?

Yours truly
A Jabra Fan

And now SRK, you have answered the question with the charm you are well-known for.