Of course you’d be bogged down if your debut and only film is as successful and critically acclaimed as ‘English Hinglish’. Director Gauri Shinde took four years to come up with her second film. Even by lofty ad film standards that’s awfully slow (a 10 second ad film takes days to shoot). If the audience then expects something spectacular, you can’t blame them can you?
Her latest offering ‘Dear Zindagi’ begins well. Alia Bhatt manages to bite her teeth into her complex character superbly. If you think Alia has already exhausted displaying her range of emotions on screen in her earlier films, she definitely surprises you. Keira (Alia) is a free-spirited cinematographer, who is afraid of long-term relationships with men and goes through a gamut of traumatic emotions and depression.
Alia scores big in these portions of the film – although am waiting to come across a cinematographer who does steady cam him/herself (as Alia shown in the first scene). It’s a specialised job to carry 15-30 kg weight of camera equipment and only the big and sturdy fit into the profession.
Till this was the premise, the film holds true, rather Alia holds fort and you are waiting in anticipation. You enjoy the shot takings and editing of the setting of an urban milieu – Alia being surrounded by quite well-off friends and getting wooed by hot shot producers (Kunal Kapoor) and restaurateurs (Angad Bedi). And Gauri’s Ad film background helped her making the scenes interesting and somewhat believable.
But then Kaira plunges into a big bout of depression after being dumped by one of the suitors and the movie travels to her hometown Goa. Here she finally meets DD (Dimag ka Doctor) Shah Rukh Khan. As DD, Shah Rukh Khan virtually plays him. He has all the answers, looks great for a change in different shades of linen pants and shirts and yes does an adequate job of playing himself in most part. But here you lose interest.
There is absolutely no clue who is Shah Rukh Khan (Dr Jehangir Khan) in the movie – a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a psycho analyst? He takes analysis session with patients in the most unconventional ways (outdoor, running around in his room, using chairs and tables as symbolism to prove his point). This is called stretching Bollywood film liberty to the maximum. This is also where Kaira becomes Alia; the character sounds more like the Alia who appears on Koffee with Karan and various promotional events.
The long verbose exchanges between Kaira and Dimag ka Doctor become more and more simplistic, inexplicable and downright boring.
And there is every chance you wouldn’t agree to the ending. The very little music in the movie of Amit Trivedi may be adequate but fails to inject life.
Amongst the positives the ‘Highway’ girl Alia Bhatt again betters herself – comes up with a five-star performance. And the movie has all the technical sleekness expected when an Ad filmmaker makes a feature film.