‘Dear Zindagi’ has been directed by Gauri Shinde. The film stars Alia Bhatt, alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama, Aditya Roy Kapur and Ali Zafar. The movie deals with the troubles young and ambitious people face in their profession, love life and other relationships and how to tackle them, while stressing on the importance of mental health awareness.
Kaira aka Koko (Alia Bhatt) is budding cinematographer based in Mumbai. She doesn’t enjoy a great relationship with her parents who live in Goa. She is a happy-go-lucky independent woman who shoots ad films and keeps falling in and out of love. She is looking for the big break in her career to shoot a full-fledged feature film, and it comes in the form of her current boyfriend Raghavendra (Kunal Kapoor). He offers Kaira to co-direct a film on a foreign location and she is excited about the prospect. However, her excitement is short-lived as Raghu leaves her to be with his ex-girlfriend and even gets engaged with her. Adding to this, her landlord asks her to vacate her rented apartment as she is single. Kaira is restless due to all the mess in her life and decides to take a break and go to her home in Goa. There she happens to hear a psychologist Dr. Jehangir Khan aka Jug, at a mental health awareness camp. She decides to seek the help of this ‘dimaag ka doctor’ and understand why she is the way she is. Their therapy sessions begin and Jug in his unconventional methods, narrates her stories with hidden messages about life and makes Kaira open up on her problems and teaches her to embrace life. Through their therapy sessions, Jug and Kaira develop a strong bond and Jug learns that Kaira has been silently nursing a trauma she suffered as a child. On the other hand, Kaira too finds herself falling for Jug. So, does Kaira overcome the root cause of her problem and find the love of her life?
The movie attempts to simplify the complexities of life faced by many youngsters like Alia’s character. The characters are relatable and the dialogues are lucid. There is humour in right proportions and emotions too in the scenes between Kaira and Jug. The film drives home the point that how a person’s is today, often has something to do with his or her past and highlights the importance of mental health awareness. It offers valuable life lessons, but the drawback is that the film fails to do so in a coherent manner. Also, at two and half hours, the film feels a bit stretched. But the good thing is that there is no frills or unnecessary theatrics, and the performance of the stars holds the film together. The music also blends well with the narrative.
The film focusses on Alia’s character and she does full justice to her role. She is affable as the free-spirited Kaira and is particularly great in scenes of emotional outburst. She is a talented actress and has proven her acting prowess in ‘Highway’ and ‘Udta Punjab’.
Shah Rukh lights up the screen with his charisma and persona and is a treat to watch. He plays his age, looks and acts matured, and is very much likeable. He never lets is star power loom large and steps aside to let Alia shine.
Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayma as Alia’s friends are decent in their supporting roles. Angad Bedi as Kaira’s boyfriend Sid, appears in barely a couple of scenes and looks good. Ali Zafar, another man in Kaira’s life, is apt as the musician Rumi, strumming guitar and belting out romantic songs. Aditya Roy Kapur is charming in his cameo, while Kunal Kapoor is also attractive and does a fine job. However, they do not get much to do in the film.
Although ‘Dear Zindagi’ is not as good as the director’s debut film ‘English Vinglish’, the film is appealing, especially of the ‘slice-of-life’ content. A little bit of trimming would have made it a better, but still the movie is a good ‘soul-searching’ exercise.