4 October 2011 | Peter_Young
Life is only once
Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, through the lives of three friends, presents the world of contemporary Indian youth, who are successful, affluent yuppies. They just enjoy life because financially they have the means to do it. In mood and execution the film is very modern, light, yet it entails complex relationships in family and between friends. Essentially, in this regard, it has an uncanny resemblance to Dil Chahta Hai, though it's an altogether different film. The movie is non-sentimental and realistic, but it is emotional, and surprisingly enough, quite poetic. The dialogue by Farhan Akhtar is for the most part excellent.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is captivating, interesting and entertaining, and it captures the beauty of Spain with great mastery. At times this presentation is too perfect, but then it's a movie so that's what audiences want to see. It is beautifully shot, with an excellent cinematography working in its favour. The background score is very good, and the songs are very fun and catchy. All these aspects create a lyrical tone that is very uplifting to watch. Some scenes are just amazingly captured. The one when the guys get out of the water after diving, is pure magic. So is the one which shows them skydiving.
The film is definitely not flawless, at least from my point of view. The main moral of the story, that life is only once and one should live it to the fullest, is successfully conveyed, generally speaking, but then at times it becomes over-repetitive and saccharine. Towards the second half, it looks like it tries hard to be inspiring and feels too larger-than-life, which it out of place in a film trying to portray realism. The ending is one such instance. Similarly, the friendship between the three leads, which is generally done well, often lacks the natural, understated camaraderie it requires (not because they fight, but in spite of it).
Hrithik Roshan finally works as part of an ensemble cast where he doesn't have to carry a film all alone. He plays an imperfect man who grows as a character, and he does it ably. Farhan Akhtar is for the first time convincing and he's natural and enjoyable in a meaty role. Abhay Deol, as the flamboyant, playful guy who's unsure of whether he does or does not want to marry yet, is likable but still a bit of a disappointment. Deol is according to me the best actor of the three, based on what I've seen before, but in this film his character often lets him down--a sad case of weak writing--as it lacks true complexity.
I never thought I'd say that, but Katrina Kaif is surprisingly effective and natural, and her part is actually very well written. Laila is lovely, kind, radial and, probably more importantly, is of mixed ethnicity, which makes her line delivery and accent justifiable and credible in this film. This may be the benefit, as it eases the work for Kaif, who, instead of focusing on her accent and Hindi line delivery (which was anyway poor), can for one concentrate on the character. She is never great, but she is good. Kalki is better in a smaller part. Speaking of small parts, Naseeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval, in just two brief scenes each, shine.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara does partially bring forth another step in Hindi cinema's growth and departure from popular convention. It is thoroughly enjoyable, it has both style and substance, and though in my opinion it is nowhere an extraordinary film and is far from being really great, it is still a worthy and appreciable effort about living life to the fullest and cherishing every moment of it. Worth watching.