Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara - Movie Review

I watched 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' twice already. Mostly because I planned rather shabbily and ended up promising two groups of friends and could not (or rather did not) want to get out of both. But what I am getting at is that I found no reason to complain even as I watched it for the second time within 24 hours. I watched it with attention, laughed along and nodded appropriately as Zoya Akhthar took us along the roads of Spain and into the lives of three friends out celebrating the impending wedding of the first in the group to get married.

Imran (Farhan Akhthar) a copywriter from Delhi. Kabir (an architect from Mumbai) and Arjun (Hritik Roshan), a financial broker from London, are the three friends from school who are to meet to honour a pact they made some years ago. The pact - to go on a road trip to a place of their choice and do an adventure sport of each one's choice. The other two would have to comply. Anyway it turns out the Kabir's fiancee (Kalki) has just turned possessive of her fiance after hearing some sordid stories of bachelor parties and keeps bugging him from the time the engagement has been announced, Arjun is obsessed with making money and has no time to smell the roses and Imran, despite all his laughs, has sad eyes (as his Spanish girlfriend tells him in Spanish). They meet in Spain after four years and take a long time to get over the initial happiness and awkwardness, a petty hassle regarding an old girlfriend between Arjun and Imran who still have not got over that fully, and somehow get going.

The first sport is Kabir's choice - deep sea diving. Arjun has a phobia of water and cannot swim but when their beautiful instructor Laila (Katrina Kaif) lands up and holds his hand, he dives deep into the ocean and his soul and experiences something deep and divine. Laila becomes a part of the gang during that week and Arjun and Laila sense a bonding growing between them while Natasha (Kalki) senses something else altogether. From that place the friends go to a place where the tomatino festival of jumping over thousands of tomatoes is going on, an unscheduled visit, thanks to Laila who seems to have such things on her itenerary. Here Imran gets quickly in bed with the Spanish girlfriend of Katrina, Katrina and Arjun are discovering the philosophy of life while lying under the star and Natasha has arrived to make life more miserable for Kabir and the rest. The trio bids goodbye to their pretty instructor and the one-night-stand Spanish girl and head off to drop Natasha at the airport. But Katrina, the seize-the-day philosopher, chases them down, plants a thanda kiss on Hritik's lips and leaves. My only complaint in the movie was that kiss which did no justice to someone who shells out heavy duty philosophy and has just travelled miles chasing her love. More passion, more life needed Laila!

Onward to sky diving (Imran has a fear of heightS) and greater bonding. Imran now after the exhilaration of diving off the plane meets his biological father Salman Habib (Naseeruddin Shah) who resides in that area in circumstances that are far from ideal - the three have landed in jail for some stupid prank they did and Salman bails them out. Anyway its a short meeting where Salman apologises superficially for being the father who never wanted to meet his son. Imran realises now what it means to apologise from his heart and he does that to Arjun for stealing his girlfriend in college. It is already too long without Katrina on the scene so she reappears on special invitation from Imran, joins Arjun in his room and bed. As they head for the third part, they realise that perhaps Kabir needs to rethink his marriage plans.

Now the third sport is running with the bulls which is obvious from the name of the town that Imran has chosen. Imran says that this is the final frontier - death. One must face it. After a night during which they all seem to arrive at some decisions regarding their lives, they head to race the deadly bulls. Just before the bulls come charging, and possible death stares them in the face, the three make fresh pacts - what do we do if we survive this bull run? Each of them comes with one thing they promise to their friends and themselves and then run for their lives as the bulls come charging.

I am fast turning into an admirer of Zoya Akhthar. She makes moves at her own pace, shows what she feels, has a pretty clear idea what she wants to convey and gets some really fine performances from her artists. Visually, the movie is a treat as it shows Spain in all its glory and makes you want to go there just as Mama Mia made me want to go to Italy. The three main characters are brilliant. Hritik as Arjun is very believable and understated, Farhan who brilliantly shows how to laugh all the time but have sad eyes and Abhay Deol who just walks into the skin of the character as easily as he always does. Kalki is fantastic as the possessive girlfriend, you want to strangle her, that's how good she was. Katrina had her moments. Naseer walks into the movie and towers over all else in those short scenes.

It is Zoya's sense of purpose, the eye for detail that impresses most. In a world that is struggling to make decent gang of boys movies here comes the answer from a woman director who gets it so right that it is uncanny. I had more laughs here than in Delhi Belly as the situational humour, the acting, timing and the dialogues prodded spontaneous laughs. The spaces she creates to heighten the moment when each of them faces their fears, the details she creates in etching out the characters - from the stuff they pack, to their bags, their gadgets, to the clothes they wear - Zoya Akhthar does a wonderful job in the mould of an artist, cutting and pasting, adding and deleting, getting it as right as she can. And she does, the honesty shows, and makes the movie highly believable and watchable. Zoya Akhthar's biggest assets are her clarity, her honesty, her eye for detail and perfection. And mostly her ability to say what she wants without trying to second guess the audience. Intelligent films are intelligent because they speak to you as an individual, and not try to force their intelligence upon you. And understanding that in itself shows the intelligence of the creator. Well done Zoya and team. Great work!

No comments: