Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is Zoya Akhtar’s second film after Luck by Chance (2009) – and she has once again written and directed a slick, well-put-together, entertaining film. Coming from a family of talents (dad Javed Akhtar – poet / lyricist / screen writer; mum Honey Irani – actress / screen writer; brother Farhan Akhtar – actor / director / producer / singer / writer), she obviously has no problem fitting right in – and though her second film is much like an updated version of her brother’s Dil Chahta Hai (2001), she has proven herself by directing two very different films in two years.
ZNMD is the story of three friends – Kabir, Arjun and Imran – who take off on a 3-week road trip in Spain, which serves as the ‘bachelor party’ before Kabir gets married in India. The trip is to include challenges that each one of them has dreamt of since college – and each challenge is a surprise to the others. With this seemingly fun-filled adventure serving as the backdrop, the trip tests relationships, strengthens some bonds, breaks others and answers questions each one of the characters has been struggling with. Love is found and love is lost – but the holiday establishes one thing for them all – life is short and has to be lived to the fullest.
There is never a dull moment in the film – the dialogue (penned by Farhan) is crisp and witty, the situations are fun, but believable, the characters are identifiable – and the film allows the viewer to go on a dream holiday with some of the coolest people ever, from the comfort of their seats. In this and so many other ways, the film reminds me of Dil Chahta Hai (just without the interminable Akshaye-Dimple love story). Farhan manages to be in and around so many films where male friendship is rendered with the loftiest of depictions – makes me think he’s either had some really great friends in his youth or he’s making up for what he doesn’t have by being in films about great friendships.
Hrithik Roshan (Arjun) plays an ambitious, money-minded, focused man and has delivered a very balanced performance – which is always a surprise when it comes to him, as he has a general tendency to try too hard and end up looking forced and annoying. Abhay Deol (Kabir) is as always a pleasure to watch – he’s relaxed, natural and absolutely comfortable in what ever character he plays – and this film is no exception. It’s good to see him in more mainstream films, as he has so much potential and it would be sad to see his career die a quiet death in unwatched off-beat films. Farhan Akhtar (Imran) doesn’t need much discussion – he’s consistently good in pretty much every film that he’s involved with. Here he plays the most flawed of the three friends and manages to be endearing all the way through. Other actors, including Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin, have short roles, which they do full justice to. The film rests on the three actors though – and they’re all excellent.
Everything about this film is top-notch, including the music, visuals, editing and the general ‘feel’. The main star of the show is the script though – whether it’s the ‘bag-wati’ story or the chit-chat about Doordarshan, the underlying humour is natural and at times a bit Tarantino-like. And the end credits are definitely a homage to the You Tube sensation ‘JK Wedding Entrance Dance’. But it’s all done in a very classy manner – and that is what puts Farhan and Zoya at the forefront of this generation of Hindi film-makers.
An excellent film – and well worth a watch.