In one of the defining moments of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the three friends, along with their diving instructor, have just surfaced from the depths of the seas and the feeling of having experienced life in each breath is sinking in... while the sun sets along the Spanish coastline. The richness of this moment is not only depicted in the beauty of the shot itself but also in the calm that descended upon such exuberant individuals.
Through the medium of the film, Zoya Akhtar is reminding us to let our fears drown in the essence of the moment that is Now. Take a deep breath and live this day as it were your last. Though a familiar ideology, it has never been presented with such tenderness, subtlety and beauty. Add Zoya's touch of light-hearted, intelligent, unadulterated humour and we have an easy to soak entertainer. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara doesn't preach a way of living but simply reminds us of it and does so in a manner that will make you smile in the end.
Kabir (Abhay Deol) is the first of the Three Musketeers who is about to break away from bachelorhood and as per their old pact, they take a road-trip that includes each one's surprise adventure along the way. This isn't remotely close to a 'Hangover' style Bachelor party but more like a bachelor trip that takes male-bonding to a level that was once defined in 'Dil Chahta Hai'. Even though Kabir may appear to be the audacious, fun loving guy, his marriage is a worrisome matter for him which he tries to conceal from his friends.
Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) is the funniest of the lot and while he can be a kid sometimes, he appears restless and anxious when it comes to tracing his real father Salman, in Spain.
Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) is an ambitious financial broker in London, who is unable to separate himself from his work while on vacation because he plans to retire rich at age 40. However, it is their friendship and the common zeal for life that bonds them and makes them do crazy things to strangers and themselves.
On their first adventure, diving instructor Laila (Katrina Kaif) introduces them to her idea of living freely, without worries and plans. From hereon, begins the journey of discovering true living for the trio whose adventures mean a lot more than just sports. The more they let go of themselves, the more they embrace their true selves.
The moment they arrive in Spain to the tunes of Dil Jaise Dhadke Dhadakne do, we know what's in store for us. Kabir with his pranks on strangers, Imraan with his witty one-liners and spontaneous sense of humour and Arjun, whose devotion to work literally goes out of the window during the journey, provide us with chuckles and guffaws through innovative situations and interactions. The humour throughout, is clean, witty and refreshingly different from what we have seen post- '3 Idiots'. Abhay Deol is well suited to his character who plays the prankster among friends and the resilient fiance of Natasha (Kalki Koechlin). His character faces more dilemmas throughout and he has handled those situations well. Kalki was passable in her role which the viewer wouldn't be too fond of in any case. Maybe, she might have succeeded in making us feel that way, which should be an accomplishment.
Finally, Hrithik Roshan has a role where he can enjoy himself and the audience can enjoy watching him perform all his talents. Apart from looking like a Greek God, he dresses like a GQ model, laughs, jokes and dances as fluently as he speaks Spanish. It is a treat to watch Hrithik off a wheelchair (Guzaarish) and be a part of a memorable movie after a dull period of 2 years. These are the kind of films he should be doing.
Katrina Kaif's character may have been overshadowed by the boys but as an actress, this film should give her more confidence than ever. She gets to speak out the best dialogues, always keep that sweetest smile on her, dress casually and yet look most stunning and leave a lasting impression upon millions of hearts.
Farhan Akhtar is hands down, the highlight of the film's performances. With witty dialogues and a quirky sense of humour, he gets to have most of the fun. He lets himself go with his character and exposes himself to signing, dancing, fooling around, being impulsive, being childish and sometimes, being really mature. He has left good impressions before but this time, he exceeds expectations.
Perhaps the secret to such good performances is Zoya's writing and screenplay that allows the actors to be themselves rather than their characters. They just seem so much at ease and with such good understanding of situations that it looks very credible.
Through Carlos Catalan's superlative cinematography, we not only witness Spain in its magnificent splendour but also the director's vision of a screenplay that speaks without dialogue. As the actors dive into the depths of the sea, drive through the Spanish countryside, fall from the airplane or paint the world red, Zoya's envisioned screenplay is adroitly depicted like a work of art. What the characters experience in those moments isn't described in words but through slow motion capture of the camera and a screenplay that lets the scene and actor's expression speak in emotions and beauty.
While these characteristics of direction and cinematography form the strength of the film, it is Jaaved Akhtar's poetry, spoken through Farhaan in those inspiring moments, that forms the soul of the movie. Not only is the writing rich and meaning deep, but also the effect of its narration is pure magic.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy have given us melodious tunes which will only grow with each listen after having watched the movie. Dil Jaise Dhadke is peppy and its chorus is uplifting. Der lagi lekin is a soulful track that is brilliantly rendered by Shankar Mahadevan. Truly, accolade worthy. Ik Junoon (Paint it red) is catchy and well suited to the La Tomatina festival. Suraj ki baahon mein is a foot-tapping track that all actors eventually dance to but it is Senorita that is most fun to watch as all three of them take to the stage and Hrithik comes in his invincible form.
ZNMD portrays richness and maturity of the director's skill as well as the talents of the actors. Sincere performances in credible situations enable the very real feel from the movie. While Spain, being the silent hero of the film, will inspire travelers with its resplendent beauty that is explored through journeys, many will relate to Imraan's poetry and the adventurous achievements of the trio.
Perhaps the most remarkable attribute does remain the film's ability to convey so much in its silent scenes in spectacular backdrops. Simple moments now look enriched with deeper meaning and all credit goes to Zoya Akhtar's vision of a road-trip that is definitely worth a ride.
9.123 on a scale of 1-10.