Movie Name: Dear Zindagi
Release: November 23, 2016
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi, Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama
Dear Zindagi Director: Gauri Shinde
Dear Zindagi, from the way it looked, felt, came across as, right from its title, was known to be a slice-of-life film ever since its first poster was released. What it is all about, therefore, is as good as anyone’s guess. The magic lay in the execution. For most of its parts, Dear Zindagi has its moments, but there are those stray notes that don’t necessarily fit properly in the scheme of things.
Kiara (Alia Bhatt), a budding director, is stuck in a rut. Her dream job is out of her reach, her love life is in a mess, her landlord asks her to vacate her Mumbai apartment because she’s a single woman. Relatable much. Kiara’s parents are based in Goa. Kiara is like any of us right after a break-up. When a guy leaves you for someone else, you continue with life like nothing ever happened.
Except, Kiara isn’t able to sleep. In Goa for a month’s break, she eavesdrops on an address by Dr. Jehangir Khan/Jug (Shah Rukh Khan) at a mental health awareness gathering. His language and manner of dealing with the issue of mental health bowl her over, and Kiara reaches his doorstep for ‘therapy’. Dear Zindagi thereafter is about breaking out of the shackles of life and, as the several ‘takes’ of the film have said, embracing life, ‘one take at a time’.
Alia plays an affable Kiara. She has the same problems so many of us have. We’re used to making peace with the words ‘slut’ (muted in the film), ‘fast’ because the world throws them at us sans any consideration or care. Kiara symbolizes all of us 20th-century women, portraying on screen our problems with a rawness probably only Alia can. All good things about Alia aside, her character gives you a major sense of deja vu from the last bit of her screen time in Highway. There are those repressed feelings, the messages of letting go… too familiar, too many times.
Shah Rukh brings on screen his inimitable charm, giving himself completely to the director. Khan knows when to step back and let Alia take the lead. You want more of Jug’s wit and ability to listen. The supporting cast comprising Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi, Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayama do their job well.