Movie Review – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Zoya Akhtar’s road trip flick begins with Kabir (Abhay Deol) getting engaged to his gilfriend of six months (Kalki Koechlin). He goes on a road trip to Spain with his buddies Imran (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan). The trip is a dream the trio had planned four years ago, but it somehow failed to take off then. Now, each of the three have an adventure sport planned for the group.

All three men have their own emotional baggage on the trip. Kabir, like many men, is nervous about his impending marriage. He is not convinced if Natasha is the right one for him but is still going ahead with his wedding. Of the three, he is the most anchored – neither too glum nor too much of a wise-cracker. Imran is a bit of a loose cannon. A closet poet and an off-the-cuff smooth talker, he is in Spain to search and meet his father. Arjun, the most serious of the three, still carries the pangs of heartbreak and betrayal. A workaholic investment banker, he is focussed on making a quick buck and then live life fully after retiring at forty. In this quest, he has become a work machine, a robot whose life is dictated by his job.

Like most close buddies, the trio have their sweet memories and resentments lurking below their camaraderie. Through the course of the trip, they vent out their bottled feelings, exorcise ghosts from their pasts and cement their bonds realising that their friendship is bigger than rare tiffs. The fears the group tackles in their adventures – deep-sea diving at Costa Brava, sky diving in Sevilla and the Spanish bull run in Pamplona – are symbolic of the way they learn to tackle bigger issues in their lives. While Arjun metamorphoses from a money-minded stock broker into a carefree soul, Imran learns to let go of his resentment, and Kabir takes charge of his life.

Comparisons to Dil Chahta Hai and Hangover may have been natural before the movie hit screens, but the film manages to carve out its own mould. Definitely not as frivolous as Hangover, ZNMD has its moments about dealing with complex, strained relationships with an intensity that would even surpass DCH.

The movie draws a good mix – intelligent direction, captivating music, breathtaking cinematography and hilarious dialogues. But it is the acting that takes the cake. While Hrithik’s acting shows great depth, Abhay Deol oozes subtlety. Kalki and Katrina are adequate in characters that do not really stretch their abilities. The runaway star though is definitely Farhan Akhtar. He shows brilliant timing in his poetry-quoting devil-may-care character, and balances it superbly  with the emotional stress in the scene where he meets his father.

Zoya Akhtar maturely uses the adventures in the film as metaphors for living life with a straight from the heart, no-holds-barred attitude. The film’s message of living life in the moment is an oft-repeated one; the narration though makes this flick a winner.

It’s been less than a week since I came back from a road trip in Ladakh, and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara made me feel like going on one again. Need I say more?


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