For the trailer of a movie that earned 55 million views within 48 hours of release, there’s a whole lot to expect! And for the very movie that features stalwarts like Hrithik Roshan, Kalki Koechlin and Abhay Deol, the expectation meter rises even further. Furthermore if the film is written and directed by a filmmaker who has previously helmed quality cinema like Luck By Chance you obviously expect nothing short of the moon from it. With the music already doing well enough on the airwaves and the television promos being an absolute rage due to the realistic conversations between the three male protagonists, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara turns out to be a Hindi movie that one sincerely hopes would be a perfect bang for your buck. And besides, the movie is produced by the likes of Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, who have consistently given us quality such as Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Don: The Chase Begins, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Rock On!! and Karthik Calling Karthik.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Rumors floating about it being similar to the Todd Philips directed Hollywood franchise The Hangover and Farhan Akhtar’s own debut directorial vehicle Dil Chahta Hai are dampening the spirits of the potential moviegoer. Even so, the hilarious trick of posting a very random spoiler over BlackBerrys as forward broadcast messages has met with diverse reactions and further inhibition toward the film. Now the only question that must be in every movie viewer’s mind would be “Should I watch the film or would I rather go for Harry Potter and skip this instead?”
Set in Mumbai, London and Spain, the movie’s about the one thing that you’ve always wanted to do with your friends ever since you’ve been there for each other. Kabir Dewan (Abhay Deol) has just proposed to Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) after six months of dating, and now that they’re very close to marriage, he wants to badly go on that bachelor trip he’d planned with his friends Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) four years ago, before unavoidable circumstances made them cancel it. The location is Spain and Imraan deliberately chooses it for personal reasons. In this trip of a lifetime, Arjun finds love in the form of Laila (Katrina Kaif), Imraan realizes things are not always like the movies, and Kabir himself realizes he’s not ready for marriage. The events that unfold will get them to realize themselves, and life as a whole…
Now before some conclusions are hurriedly made, let me clear some things at the very outset. As far as the similarities to The Hangover are concerned, yes, they’re going for that bachelor trip before he marries, but the similarities end right there. And with regards to more similarities in connection with Dil Chahta Hai, the movies are poles apart. Agreed that the male bonding aspect does remind us of Dil Chahta Hai but let’s face it, male bonding as an aspect will be a universally similar thread. The story and screenplay written by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Katgi (of Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. fame) is original, and more so a refreshing take on ‘living life to the fullest’.
Though her story is simple and might have been told quite a few times before, what brings out the best in the screenplay is the development of each character through the journey the three main protagonists walk upon these 2 hours 35 minutes of the film. Be it Imraan’s search for his biological father against his mother’s wishes and his shocking discovery on learning the painful truth, or even Arjun and his mechanical ways of working, inhibited by his fear of not being able to earn more than enough, or even Kabir’s commitment phobia, you can see a bit of yourself in each of them. What impressed me was also Kalki Koechlin’s ever progressive character, even in a short role. Also, Kaif’s beautifully written character makes us root for her throughout.
And it’s not just the scenes on paper and their execution, it’s the strength in the technical department too that makes the movie a complete package. The movie has been brilliantly shot, thanks to the team of cameramen heralded by Carlos Catalan’s stunning cinematography. Watch out for the horses passing by and Hrithik Roshan’s character suddenly feeling alive. We couldn’t agree more. Alongside that we’ve got stunning shots of the landscape of Spain which will be etched in your mind for a long time after you’ve exited the hall. Editor Anand Subaya has observed a very different type of cut for the film, which goes gradual without frenetic cuts and yet never seems to loose pace. The rules of editing have been tightly observed, and yet the movie doesn’t suddenly get fast when needed or vice versa – in fact the movie remains consistent throughout it’s duration and that’s what makes it a good edit.
Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy makes you appreciate it even more as you watch the film; on-screen, it’s “Ik Junoon” and “Khwabon Ke Parinday” that work immensely, and though “Senorita” acts as an unnecessary speed-breaker, the song grows on you. Lyrics by Javed Akhtar are beautifully penned, and after a horror show in Game, I think he’s back in business with this one. Background score is stunning and melds well with each and every scene, and intersperses the poignant “Toh Zinda Ho Tum”, which is more of a soul-searching poem than anything else. Oh, and how can I forget: “Sooraj Ki Baahon Mein” in an epilogue during the end credits makes everyone smile on their way out, and you might just wait for the song to get over before you’re out.
Performance wise, it is difficult to single out an actor who outshines the rest, because everyone here comes up with a performance that’s memorable. Hrithik Roshan as Arjun excels, and the pain in his eyes and the anger and restraint has been well placed out in the portions of the first half. His transformation from an uptight corporate-type to a carefree soul is superb. Farhan Akhtar is brilliant. Be it his dialogue delivery in funny sequences or him breaking down at the stark realization of his abandonment, we’ve got a winner here too. Abhay Deol is a natural as the polite and articulate Kabir. Kalki is a performer, even in her short role, though the one who takes the cake is Katrina Kaif as a strong woman who believes in living and letting live. The chemistry between Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif is a masterstroke. Deepti Naval and Naseeruddin Shah in short roles work big time.
Overall, this one’s a film that truly deserves to be seen by one and all, ‘cause if there’s any film that teaches you to live life at the fullest after Jab We Met, it’s this one. After heading out of the theatre, I heard one such man saying, “Let’s all go for a crazy trip and do such crazy stuff!” Now I’m not sure if he will ever execute this plan of action, but I sure was as exhilarated as he was…