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Review: Dear Zindagi

Banner: Red Chillies Entertainment, Dharma Productions, Hope Productions

Producers: Gauri Khan, Karan Joha, Gauri Shinde

Director: Gauri Shinde

Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Ira Dubey, Ali Zafa, Yashaswini Dayama, Aditya Roy Kapu, Angad Bedi

Writers: Gauri Shinde

Music: Amit Trivedi

For those who love watching a modest yet inspiring tale on the silver screen, here’s a refreshing film, complete with superlative performances, lots of colour and emotion, and no unnecessary drama. As the title suggests, Dear Zindagi is all about loving life.

There are films that entertain the audience and there are those that are emotionally moving. This coming-of-age film combines both elements, making it a double treat. Director Gauri Shinde presents a heartfelt tale that brings out the simplicity in each character and makes them very relatable as she does the situations. Based on a realistic idea, the film is executed in a way that totally engages the audience.

The story starts in Singapore with Kaira (Alia Bhatt), a budding but very talented cinematographer shooting some patchwork scenes for a feature film. She is very successful in the advertising world and wants to make her feature film debut.

Once back in Mumbai, Kaira confesses to her boyfriend Sid (Angad Bedi) that she had slept with the producer, Raghuvendra aka Raghu (Kunal Kapoor), and the couple breaks up. Later, Raghuvendra presents Kaira with an opportunity of a lifetime, to work on an international project. When she evades an answer about getting into a serious relationship, Raghuvendra gets engaged to someone else.

When Kaira’s landlord asks her to vacate her apartment, she has no option but to visit Goa, where her parents live. Here, she gets entangled with overly concerned parents and relatives. Unable to sleep, she decides to seek help from Dr Jehangir Khan aka Jug (Shah Rukh Khan), an unconventional therapist. How Jug helps Kaira open up about her problems and digs deeper into her real issues forms the crux of the story.

Shinde, who marked her directorial debut with English Vinglish back in 2012, has done her homework with the script and character sketches. The flow of the storyline is precise and the pace is perfect. Also, as the writer of the film, she knows how to handle delicate scenes beautifully. On the whole, the film is a seamless mixture of emotions and many scenes leave you awestruck. The film is an honest attempt and the simplicity in the writing is complemented by fabulous performances and execution. This is what makes Dear Zindagi such a treat to watch. 

The film has many memorable scenes, including the one when Kaira visits Jug for the first time; when Raghu tells Kaira that he wants their relationship to be serious and she ends up acting clueless; when Kaira has an outburst in front of her family, when Kaira is in the last week of her sessions and asks Jug to go out for coffee; and when Kaira has an outburst during one of her sessions.

With a runtime of 150 minutes, editing by Hemanti Sarkar is firm and leaves no loose ends. Cinematography by Laxman Utekar is another asset. The locations are brilliantly captured and portray Goa’s laidback beauty. Utekar’s shot-taking is simple and to the point. The dialogue is tight and includes some good one-liners. From locations to costumes, the entire look of the film is suitable. The background score and music are another asset and they blend with the narrative beautifully. 

Performance-wise, there is a certain charm that Bhatt’s character possesses. She plays her role with simplistic magnetism that translates onto the big screen beautifully. Shah Rukh Khan is undoubtedly a master of his craft. He carefully plays with the undertone of his character and plays his part with panache. Kunal Kapoor’s performance is a perfect blend of confidence and subtlety. Ira Dubey is good. Ali Zafar executes his tailor-made role with finesse. Yashaswini Dayama is notable. Angad Bedi does justice to his part. Aditya Roy Kapur in his brief appearance is noteworthy. The rest of the supporting cast does well.

Verdict: A film NOT to be missed!

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