By and large, after graduating from school/university, before one steps into a fresh phase in life, friends do settle on having some funâ€¦ It could be an extended bachelor party. It could be an excursion. Living each moment to the fullest is what most of us are thinking at that point of time. ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA is also about living each precious moment, as if there's no tomorrow. It's a film that also deals with surmounting and overpowering our personal fears. In this case, it changes the lives of three youngsters who embark on a road trip to Spain.
Zoya Akhtar represents the new brigade in Bollywood. But the talented storyteller is mired in controversies pertaining to ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA. Is it similar to HANGOVER? Or is it a present-day adaptation of Farhan Akhtar's directorial debut DIL CHAHTA HAI?
Sure, ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA is a buddy film like DIL CHAHTA HAI or like any other film that focuses on friends. But comparing DIL CHAHTA HAI and ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA won't be correct. For, the difference lies in the fact that the individuals in both the films face diverse problems. Aamir, Akshaye and Saif's dilemma is different from that of Hrithik, Farhan and Abhay. Perhaps, people tend to draw parallels between the two films because both focus on male bonding and are also produced by the same production house [Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar]. While DIL CHAHTA HAI was about the friendship between three youngsters and the individual journey each of them undertakes subsequently, ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA is poles apart in terms of content [screenplay: Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar] as well as execution of the written material.
There's concern that ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA caters to the urban centres of India chiefly. People beyond the metros wouldn't be able to relate with the goings-on. Sure, ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA is a refined film, a metro-centric film primarily, so what's wrong with that? Yes, it's unlike the masala films some of us relish with glee. But if masala means entertainment, amusement, hilarity, escapade, emotions and drama, yes, ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA has it all. Only thing, it's treated differently. Everyone has his/her style of interpreting a tale, after all.
ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA is real and can be rightly termed as a slice of life film. The protagonists don't play 'heroes' in the conventional terms; they are not presented as larger than life here. Zoya's ability in bringing offbeat elements in mainstream cinema needs to be applauded and appreciated. Zoya understands the intricacies of human behavior, which was evident in her debut film, and ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA strives to impeccably integrate authentic characters and bona fide situations on celluloid.
But the film is not without its share of blemishes. To start with, the drama is missing in the first hour. In fact, the first half comes across as a collage of some well executed sequences. Also, the comic scenes fail to evoke mirth. The three protagonists' attempt to scare strangers in a restroom, bar and on a lonely street doesn't gel well with their suave personalities on-screen. However, if the intention was to evoke laughter, sorry, these scenes fall flat. Besides, mocking at Doordarshan seems out of place and also appears in poor taste. Most importantly, the first half comes across as a showreel to promote Spain Tourism.
Another aspect that goes against the film is its running time. One tends to get restless after a point. In addition, the pacing is lethargic at places and it also gets talk-heavy. Zoya could've been ruthless in bringing down the length of the film. It would've only been more impactful.
Three young men take a holiday that changes their lives forever. Kabir [Abhay Deol] is engaged to Natasha [Kalki]. Kabir decides to go on an extended bachelor party, before he gets married. A 3-week road trip with Imraan [Farhan Akhtar] and Arjun [Hrithik Roshan], his two best friends since school. The only problem is Arjun is too tied up with work. After much emotional blackmail and cajoling, the boys set off on a journey they were meant to take four years ago. A fantasy holiday they had planned to take after college, which never happened. A road trip where each one gets to do the ultimate sport of his choice and the other two just have to do it with him. Whether they want to or not!
Kabir, Imraan and Arjun meet up in Barcelona and set off on an adventure that not only make them iron out their differences, but also face their fears, alter their perception, unravel their fabric, force them to break out of the box and teach them to seize the day. This holiday changes their lives forever.
A travel film is tough to shoot. And it gets all the more difficult when you have a story involving multiple characters. Unlike LUCK BY CHANCE, Zoya does something visually and thematically diverse this time around. In ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA, Zoya chooses an attention-grabbing story and garnishes it well with moments that may seem straight out of a person's memoirs. In fact, it's a completely novel take on comrades and camaraderie. While the first half has several wonderful moments [the strain between the two friends is well presented], the post-interval portions -- right till the well-thought-of culmination -- keeps your attention arrested.
Reema and Zoya have penned the script with a lot of care and concern, borrowing incidents from real life. Besides, the fresh dialogue [Farhan Akhtar] augment the impact of numerous sequences. The exquisite cinematography is another aspect that catches your attention. The spectacular locales of Spain have been captured on celluloid with dexterity by Carlos Catalan. In an era where earsplitting and tawdry tunes are working big time, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy come up with tunes that the youth would take a fondness for instantaneously. The songs that appeal the most are 'Ik Junoon' and 'Senorita'.
The film boasts of an exuberant on-screen ensemble cast. As a matter of fact, it's an unusual mix of actors who are not prisoners of any image as such and one is curious to see how well they coagulate in this film. Hrithik takes up challenges for himself with every project he chooses to do and tries to outdo himself by pushing his limits. He is in terrific form here, interpreting an extremely intricate and exceptional character fluently, channelizing every emotion in the book through his eyes. The much-talked-about kissing scene in the film is also aesthetically filmed.
Farhan's character is totally different from his previous roles since he is playing the funster here. But beneath all the fun and jokes is a person who's looking for answers. He's concealing something even from his buddies, something that's disconcerting him persistently. Again, for someone who's not a veteran at acting, this is a character that needs to be handled with a lot of understanding and Farhan, thankfully, gets it right. In fact, Farhan is quite a scene-stealer on more occasions than one.
Abhay's choice of roles has always been offbeat and ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA reaffirms his stand on the kind of movies he wants to be associated with. Enacting the role of a rich, well brought-up youngster, Abhay is in supreme form, striking a super balance between light and dramatic moments. In fact, Abhay portrays the role with plentiful charm and magnetism.
Katrina is a revelation. In fact, the actress continues to surprise you with her performances in film after film. Besides making an impact as a glamour girl, she's all out to prove her mettle as an actress of substance with ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA. Kalki plays a Mumbai girl belonging to the upper crust and though it's not a typical 'heroine' role, Kalki infuses life into the character, fitting into the conceived character accurately. Naseeruddin Shah is remarkable in a cameo and so is Deepti Naval. Ariadna Cabrol doesn't get much scope.
On the whole, ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA has its share of plusses and minuses, highs and lows. It's definitely not for ardent fans of kitsch or those with an appetite for typical masala entertainers. This one's more for spectators with refined tastes and sensibilities. It's a film for a more evolved, mature and cinema-literate audience that's geared up to embrace and support newer genres of cinema.