Dear Zindagi Review
A young, talented, successful cinematographer (Alia Bhat) is used to breaking hearts before someone breaks hers. A chance encounter with a shrink gets her to open up to him. Shah Rukh plays the psychiatrist who guides her journey of trust and love. But for two hours you put up with too shiny, too happy people holding hands and you're fed up with the hokey counseling sessions. The last half hour actually touches you but it is too little too late.
She's talented and smart and successful. But she gets as bored with boyfriends and her best friends don't know why. Alia and her friends are what R.E.M's Michael Stipe sang in 1991: Shiny happy people holding hands... Their happiness, their joy, their existential quandaries seem to be so superficial they could have been deleted with a quick tap of on the computer.
Don't believe it? Here's a sample: Alia asks a lad on her team: You talk about going to a shrink to tell us you're gay, right? Instead of walking off (preferably after having slapped her) he answers, 'I talk about it to tell myself that I am gay.' The boy is not seen again in the film. Why is he there? To tell the already stupid people that 'gayness' can be cured by visiting the shrink?
And the horrendous, 'Are you Lebanese?' when the aunt wants to ask Aalia if she is Lesbian, is meant to be a joke. But is it? Really? It's worse than Kantaben fainting in Dostana in 2008.
But there's darkness under all that laughter, but we know that after two hours of hokey homespun advice: we don't buy the first chair we sit on, so it's okay to have many boyfriends/relationships before you settle down in the comfort of the one perfect chair.
Dr,Jehangir Khan is Shah Rukh Khan in his coolest role. He flashes those dimples (evident through that beard) as he dispenses the most un-doctor like advice. But the multiple sighs from female fans echoing in the theater say but one thing: there would be more patients should all shrinks look like Shah Rukh. He looks completely comfortable in his skin, taking his patient out of the confines of the office to literally open up and respond to life's question: Why are you afraid.
Despite the presence of Shah Rukh, there is just no emotional connect with Alia and you want to reach out and say, 'Enough!' to her. They try so hard to 'be cool'. It's not the fault of the young actors at all. Even Ali Zafar, who is perfect as the rebound boyfriend comes across as one-dimensional and easy to dismiss. The story just doesn't have enough meat. It's so Aalia-focussed, there is no room to develop the other characters. They're all there to show how 'kewl' Aalia is.
The last half hour is when the conversation becomes personal and you are glad you waited it out. You see how good Aalia can be. And Shah Rukh just looks better and better (at one point even he has the 'what am I doing in this script' look). Wish they had worked harder to develop the very necessary message of mental health instead of offering something as insubstantial as the Vogue Deepika Padukone video... Remember it? No? Q.E.D.
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