Dear Zindagi (2016)

Dear Zindagi is a film, everyone was waiting for. The 4 part teasers created a sort of increased hype. And being a member of the community, and a subscriber to the SRK fan club, I could not keep myself out of the hype bubble. I went in to watch the movie, soon after its release. Gauri Shinde’s earlier film English Vinglish was good, that was all the more reason to go and watch the movie. And this time I planned the date with my family!

Early on in Dear Zindagi, the protagonist, a 20-something-year-old named Kaira (Alia Bhatt), gives the example of the jacket she is wearing since the 10th grade (the jacket shown looks brand new :P), as an argument with her friends about her incapability to form long-term relationships. This somewhat establishes a plot of the film.

Kaira is portrayed as someone whom I might call emotionally stunned. She definitely has some commitment issues stacked with bunch of other unresolved issues with her parents. As a result, she pushes back immediately when young men in her life start seeking genuine attachment for a long-term relationship with her. Her character is moody, and not likeable and Alia does a moderately good job of pulling this off.

SRK, as the shrink from Goa, famous for his unconventional approach towards treating his patients, is charming as hell. He plays the role of Dr. Jehangir Khan, divorced and dealing with his own issue of remaining separated from his son, whom Kaira seeks out in Goa for help. Long walks on the beach and cycling sessions reveals Jehangir’s wisdom, the kind you could get for free on bumper stickers. At one point he tells Kaira: “Don’t let your past blackmail your present to ruin a beautiful future.” On another occasion he says, simply, “Har tooti cheez jodi jaa sakti hai.”

While Gauri’s previous film English Vinglish, was fuelled by real emotions, Dear Zindagi doesn’t really have much of it. The problem with Dear Zindagi is that so much of it – particularly the first half – feels superficial and even contrived. The banter between Kaira and her friends is hokey and often forced. Cinema, nowadays, is in the trend trying to make things over-complicated in every genre. Despite all the flaws, Alia makes a score. The other admirable thing about the film is its attempt to root out the stigma attached to mental health and the shame associated with therapy.

As I mentioned earlier, I went in for the film with my family. And believe me when I say this my aunt literally slept in her seat for the most of the second half. All the small sparks that Dear Zindagi presents, becomes negligible in an overlong, disappointing film that misses its mark. I’m going with 2 out of 5 stars for Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi. Apart from a few scenes of Alia, and the scenes with SRK, the rest of it is a pain to watch.