By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 25, 2016
Rating: 2 / 5
The essence: Dr. Khan explains to Kaira that he once went to an Italian Opera and sat through it for three hours, all the time pretending that it touched his heart, when in fact, “I wanted to scream.” That’s reading the mind of the audience!
Dear Zindagi comes to the point of its existence 30 minutes after the interval. Then, for the next 15 minutes, Gauri Shinde, who made her directorial debut with English Vinglish four years ago, shows glimpses of her brilliance before moving back to ‘just being’.
The only time the film really shines in the first half is when the movie begins. Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is patching up for a scene on the sets of a film where the DOP has reported sick. She requests for a retake and on the second round, zooms in on the expressions of the girl in question. That frame speaks a thousand words. It also emphasizes Kaira’s desire and passion for cinematography.
Then, it’s a free fall. We learn that Kaira is a rebel who cannot function normally with her parents. She has relationship issues with her boyfriends and only hangs around with her gang of trusted four. After vague references to BD “Brain Doctor’, she has sessions with a shrink, Dr. Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan). Her story unfolds with her psychologist and we have to sit through her dreary sessions.
Dr. Khan, in one session, explains to Kaira that he once went to an Italian Opera and sat through it for three hours, all the time pretending that it touched his heart, when in fact, “I wanted to scream.” That’s reading the mind of the audience!
However, Gauri unravels a gem, 30 minutes from the interval, making the ‘sit through’ sessions with Kaira and Dr. Khan, almost worth it. Alia stands up, literally, and brings out the actress in her as she powerfully essays a scene which matches the intensity of Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman. Just for that, a round of applause for the Bhatt babe who has been showing immense growth in her career.
But with the weak script early on, she did flounder. Apart from that initial spark which she showed in the beginning scene, she too finds it difficult to move on with the sessions and the story. The ‘very weak’ friendly circle which Gauri tries to build up around Kaira resembles a poor prop.
At times, the film meanders along as a documentary. As a shrink, Dr. Khan gets some really intense lines to speak to his patient, one of which goes thus: “Don’t let your past blackmail your present to ruin a beautiful future!”
That’s the essence of Dear Zindagi, letting go of the past to live life to the fullest! Gauri had a beautiful subject. Somehow, I feel, she has let the brilliance of her past film shackle her creativity and suffocate a film which could have really stood out.
Producer: Hope Productions, Dharma Productions, Red Chillies Entertainment
Director: Gauri Shinde
Star Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan