Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar, Kunal Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur
Gauri Khan, Karan Johar, Gauri Shinde
A beautiful title, interesting casting, a potentially charming premise and a director who had captured the hearts of millions with her maiden film – the packaging of Dear Zindagi indeed looked delightful, but alas, as it began to unfold its contents, you realized there was not much depth here.
In its attempt to weave a coming of age story, Dear Zindagi tries to explore the problems faced by the millennials – relationships, sexual preferences, marriage pressure, the perennial confusion that dominates every decision, staying alone, equation with parents etc., but somehow lacks the courage to go the whole hog and ends up being superficial.
The plot heavily hangs on Kaira aka Koko (Alia Bhatt) a talented young cinematographer who is messed up in her personal life. She is a problem child, who dumps boyfriends as casually as she starts dating them, has abandonment issues, hates spending time with her family, is dealing with a childhood trauma and has a handful of friends who she genuinely adores. While Kaira does come across as a fascinating character, the film fails to build a deeper connect with her and the audiences. You are so emotionally detached from Kaira, that you don’t fall for her quirkiness neither do you feel any empathy towards her.
Same goes for her friends, who appear lacklustre and barely make you smile with their clichéd jokes. For almost 45 minutes the one-dimensional plot aimlessly wanders from pubs to living rooms, from residential issues of single women in Mumbai to film industry’s acceptance of gays and lesbians. And then finally arrives the dimpled darling – Shah Rukh Khan as Dr. Jehangir Khan, looking charming as ever and you are infused with a hope that all is still not lost.
But your happiness is short-lived, the movie soon falls into a tangled web of preachy discourse about life, therapy, challenges, romantic alliances, parenting responsibilities blah blah blah.
Initially, the conversations between Jug (Dimaag ka doctor) and Kaira do seem sweet and in parts even entertaining but those moments are too scanty to breathe life into this dull plot.
As far as performances are concerned, Alia sparkles throughout, but as mentioned earlier, her emotional upheaval fails to find any connect. It’s nice to see Kunal Kapoor onscreen after so long, but wish his talent was utilized a bit more, Ali Zafar and Angad Bedi too have their moments, but again very briefly. Ira Dubey and Yashwasini Dayama as Kiara’s besties are okay.
SRK as the unconventional shrink, Dr. Jehangir Khan is comfortable in his skin but the screenplay is just too bad for even his star power to sustain.
Writer-director Gauri Shinde who had earlier given us the gem English-Vinglish fails to weave even quarter of that magic in Dear Zindagi. The problem here is the screenplay which doesn’t catch any momentum whatsoever, the narratives don’t see a rise neither do they see a fall. And yeah, it tries too hard to sale us the importance of a therapy (good thought, but poorly executed). Even the life-lessons that it bundles up get too sermonizing than enlightening and the humour just falls flat. In the end, there is no real sense of exhilaration that a slice of life film is supposed to bring.
Dear Zindagi does have its heart in the right place, but the soul is missing.