Cast:Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt,Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor
What it’s aboutThere is a moment inDear Zindagiwhere Alia Bhatt is lying on a couch transfixed in an empty gaze. In another scene, we watch a collage of close up shots expressing the gamut of emotionsshe goes through post a dramatic breakup. There are several such shots and scenes in Gauri Shinde’s over
indulgentDear Zindagiwhere the protagonist Kaira is floating aimlessly like a plastic bag in air. We wait in anticipation wanting to share her pain and empathise with her situation, but the lack of a cohesive narrative falters in creating a solid connect with the girl who has relationship woes. Dr.Jehangir played by a dapper ShahRukh Khan is the shrink who helps Kaira put together the missing jigsaw pieces on the drawing board of her life. In the process, we meet Kaira’s ex (Angad Bedi), current (Kunal Kapoor) and future (Ali Zafar) boyfriends. The film is a long drawn conversation between Alia and Shah Rukh that has momentsof brilliance thanks to the dialogues. Kaira has a dark back story that is played out through the lengthy second half and Jehangir sort of takes a backseat as the film rushes to its much-delayed climax.What’shotGauri Shinde has a way with her words. We saw that inEnglish Vinglish. WithDearZindagi,she creates an effortless banter between her characters that is appealing. The language of Kaira and her gang of friends is a part of everybody’s life, so are the upsand downs she experiences after the breakups and it’s all relatable.The humour is smart and witty. In one scene an aunt asks Alia if she’s ‘Lebanese’ (meaning lesbian) goes beyond the cliche ofa movie gag. Alia is in superb form as Kaira. She is real and restrained. Her character doesn’t scream, screech, or bawl. And that is much to Gauri’s credit as hers. Her approach towards nursing a broken heart is nonchalance which she relays effectively, and it works. Shah Rukh looks like he’s modelling a linen shirt brand and that isn’t a bad thing. Jehangir is sexy and smart. His banter with Alia in the first half and the introductory scene are major highlights. Dialogues like, “Don’t let your past blackmail your present to ruin your beautiful future” don’t sound corny when you have ShahRukh saying them in his signature charm.What’s notConversations are entertaining and engaging when they end before they become white noise.Dear Zindagisuffers from some really long, drawn out monologuesand verbal exchanges between Kaira and Dr. Jehangir. There is a scene where he compares trying out chairs to moving from one boyfriend to the other, another attempt at humour to talk about taking the easy way out rather than choosing the more obvious difficult path comes across as an exhausting attempt to build up a forced narrative. What felt like easy conversations in the first halfsuddenly become heavy and corny in the second. What is Jehangir’s back story? Why is he averse to the idea of opening himself up to Kaira? These and many more questions remain unanswered. Jehangir loses his sex appeal when he starts getting preachy and his believability suffers from the too-good-to-be-true syndrome.What to doDear Zindagifeels like a long, unending conversation that leavesyou feeling exhausted. We wish Dr. Jehangir’s character had moreappeal than the texture of his facial scruff.