Sunday, July 24, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

They say sometimes you have to be lost to find your way. I have stayed away from this place for a while now. And it has allowed me to look at ADifferentQuill from a distance. And I realized that in the thirst for being appreciated, I stopped doing on this site what I loved most - writing for the sake of writing itself. Writing became more a means to massage my ego than being happy. So in true spirit of the change, I am going to base this article on a completely unpretentious topic  - a movie review!

'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' by Zoya Akhtar was a rather surprise delight. For the first time in a long while, I left the theatre feeling happy and light. Comedy films entertain you for a bit, but the laughter dies down later on. Drama films, when good, get you to think about serious issues, but the strain is unsustainable for long periods of time - and you soon tend to put it out of your mind and move on. But this film is different. More than laugh, it makes you smile. And by the end just delivers a simple message - as if saying - "Hey You!, Smile you idiot - you are alive and breathing, be happy for that" And truly celebrates the act of simply being alive. 

The jokes are practical and down to earth. The kind of fun you can encounter in real life when you are hanging out with friends. The story is actually a snapshot of 3 lives for a week. Of three close friends meeting for a vacation. All of them are in some way occupied by their problems and baggages. But by the end of it, they realize that sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do to help yourself. The message is nuanced and I am not sure how well it might be received in main stream Indian audience. But the film is technically sound and should do very well none the less. 

The direction is simple, sometimes too simple but the photography is breath taking. The film aptly shows the coming of age for Bollywood and in some sense India itself. It has a global presence and theme to it. The shooting is on par with the best of the film industry. Larger than life when needed, it is still grounded enough to actually move you when intended. 

The music is exhilarating, fresh and alive in every beat. Guitar is to Spanish music what tabla is to Indian. And in this film, the songs are mostly guitar based. This gives them a simplicity and freshness that is the exact opposite of the audio palette of a semi-classical Indian song. The lyrics are beautiful and Javed Akhtar's poetry is sublime. 

I loved the cast, its youthful, uncomplicated and multinational. The kind of global citizens modern Indian youth would aspire to be. Hritik Roshan is subdued but ever present, he is too much of a star to be just a mere part of the story, Abhay Deol is pleasant and grows on you. But the real surprise is Farhan Akhtar - this is an actor who plays well within his own limits, and his rendition of the comedy is the most natural I have encountered on screen in a while. Katrina Kaif does her part well. It is impossible to ignore her when she is in the frame. And in some instances, you really do forget to follow the dialogues, the scenery and be simply in awe of how gorgeous she can be. 

The location of Spain has clearly paid off. And for the song of "Senorita" - which is partly spanish, adds beautiful authenticity to the play. You have to give it up for the music director's guts to let a song be in a foreign language - and trust it entirely to the rhythm for the audience to love it. The Senorita song demonstrates aptly the sensuality and pleasure that is inherent in Spain and its singers. 

It is a remarkable contrast to the Indian culture. Where often times, in favor of seeking spirituality, pleasure is looked down upon. The Spanish culture on the other hand celebrates pleasures and the people for wanting it. These are a people who are not afraid to ask for extra helpings of ice cream, a more toungy kiss, an extra night with a lover and have a society that won't fault them for wanting it. It makes their poetry extremely sensual and its honest expression, endearingly human. 

It complements the film beautifully in its message for asking people to celebrate life. Well - whats new about that ? True, we have heard these cliches for so long, we probably just tune them out by now. But there is something to it. A few years ago I became friends with a person who was genuinely happy. Not that there weren't any problems or sadness - but for the most part, this person was - happy. It got me thinking and I discovered the secret of happy people - they are truly able to live every moment. I know, I know ... what does that even mean - are we to stop our car every time we see a sunset or what .. 

Imagine that you are having a dinner party and are cooking for your friends. To indulge yourself, you are having a small cup of ice cream while cooking. And while chopping your veggies, you accidentally cut your finger. Most people will completely focus on the finger and the pain, its overwhelming and begs attention. The happy people I have found - can not only attend to the cut, but also savor the ice cream they were having in the first place. The thing is life seldom serves you ice creams on a plate with no distractions. And most of us when we think of happiness, want that unadulterated, undiluted and undisturbed experience of happiness. The trick is to savor a happy moment regardless of where it occurs. So if you enjoy rain, enjoy rain even when its because you have a flat tire and you are forced to stand on the road. And the people we find are most happy - are the people who are better at this. 

They don't lie to themselves or ignore their problems, but they don't trash the good things thoughtlessly either. And there lies the message of the film, so go out and see it and enjoy it. Go for a run, an evening walk, sit by the sea or like in my case, just get over yourself and write! 


 - Sanket


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