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ApunKaChoice » Article » Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - Movie Review
 

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - Movie Review

ZNMD is one of its kind
By Naresh Deoshi
Fri, Jul 15, 2011 17:48:40 GMT
 

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - Movie Review
The ApunKaChoice movie review of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. You only live once! The martini sipping British spy may grin at it and the reincarnation theorists may deride it, but Zoya Akhtar’s film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara hammers home the message of celebrating the lust for life, the joie de vivre, of seizing the day, seizing the moment and living totally in here-now. Yes, here-now, for one is always incomplete without the other.

The character that exemplifies this more than anyone else is that of Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), a stilted financial broker, a true-blue number-cruncher obsessed with making money. He’s uptight, upwardly mobile, cocky, and smug, but quite a heartthrob. His lifeplan is simple: slog till 40 and retire after that with a big bank balance. He’s shaken out of this idyll by the vivacious diving instructor Laila (Katrina Kaif). In one of the well executed scenes in the film, Laila tells Arjun before his maiden deep-sea dive: “your life is going to change”. Change it does. For when he comes out of the heavenly waterworld, he is speechless. The tears in his eyes say it all, complemented quite well with the incisive poetry of Javed Akhtar ascribed in the film to the character of Imraan (Farhan Akhtar), Arjun’s friend, a copy writer and a closet poet with his own personal demons to deal with.

The equation between Arjun and Imraan is a bit strained, thanks to a love triangle gone kaput four years ago. Now, in the chaffing between the two, it’s the chill dude Kabir (Abhay Deol) who’s willy-nilly sandwiched.

The trio had made a pact in their college days that they would go on a vacation where each one would choose an adventure sport which the other two would unquestionably participate in. So just two months ahead of Kabir’s wedding to Natasha (Kalki Koechlin), the trio hit the road in Spain. It’s a trip that will change their lives forever.

More than a road movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a coming-of-age tale of three friends. And being that, it comes precariously close to slipping into the Dil Chahta Hai template now and then, but Zoya Akhtar infuses the film with fresh strokes aplenty rather than just giving us an old mannequin in a spanking new tee. There are many moments in the film that make you sit up and take note. The deep sea dive, the freefall, the running with the bulls, and Imraan’s poetry in the backdrop, accompanied with slow-motion postcard shots (Carlos Catalan) of Spain make ZNMD a heady cocktail one would love to say bottoms up to.

What jars in this otherwise ripsnorting ride is the needless de tour to the Tomatino festival and a flamenco number that make the movie seem like a montage for the Spanish travel industry.

Barring this and a passionless smooch between Katrina and Hrithik, the film pretty much gets everything right. Katrina is surprisingly expressive in her role, but it’s Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar who dominate the proceedings with their crackling performances. Hrithik’s Arjun has haughty airs about him in the first half, gradually replaced by an epiphanic humility after he falls in love with Laila and life. Abhay Deol is decidedly comfortable and restrained as the indecisive Kabir, while Kalki is perfect as his suspicious and tetchy fiancée.

Farhan’s mettle as an actor shines through in the scene when he’s faced with Naseeruddin Shah, who makes a cameo appearance. One of my favourite scenes is when Farhan is in bed with a Spanish girl (Ariadna Cabrol) and he tells her the truth he’s been hiding from his friends, knowing well that she can’t understand a darned word of Hindi. What’s important is for the character to get it out of his system. It’s these subtle, thought-provoking master strokes that make Zoya Akhtar a director to look forward to.

Bowing out, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a salutation to love, life and friendship. It’s a film you must watch at least once, if not dobara.

Rating: 3.5 stars out 5
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