I went to watch Dear Zindagi with a lot of expectations. From whatever promos we had seen it seemed to be one of the most promising films of the year. A stellar star cast and a director who had set the bar very high with her first film English Vinglish.
The film did have its moments. The life and thought process of the youth of today has been captured beautifully through the director’s camera. A young, talented, beautiful, on-her-way-to-success, brilliant-at-her-work protagonist couldn’t have been portrayed better by anyone than Alia. I love the way she acts and she does not disappoint here either. The Badshah Shahrukh proves once again that he is a director’s actor. His very mature performance as the therapist /counsellor is one of his finest – in line with Swades and Paheli! No histrionics, no drama, no hogging the limelight! Just as we were prepared to write him off after the dismal Dilwale last year, he made a comeback with Fan and now this one – he does have some good years left in him yet, if he continues doing sensible roles!
Now to why the film failed to impress me too much. Right from the outset I could not really identify with the angst displayed by Alia’s character Kaira and her extreme reactions to everything from romantic overtures to parental concern.
All you see in the first half are these extreme, often tantrumy reactions. Now I for one can identify with them ( see them around often enough, what with a couple of teenagers at home and a couple hundred young adults between 18-25 years at work); but cannot quite sympathise with them! For a reaction to be really extreme the cause or stimulus also has to be extreme, right?
Now I don’t want to give away the plot, so am not going to elaborate on her specific problem here, for which she eventually consults the therapist. But I felt the problem, in the larger scheme of things, is not a really devastating one to warrant a lifetime of not trusting love or relationships. At times people close to you need to make some decisions which might affect you for a while in a not very positive way, but if they are temporary and not harmful for you, then they shouldn’t be judged badly; at least not when you finally understand why those were made in the first place. And especially if they are made by parents. They might not always be right, they are humans too and can make mistakes, but they do have your best interests at heart. So rather than judging them, it’s best if you can understand their point of view – whether you can accept it and forgive them is a different matter.
All this is eventually brought to her notice by the therapist. And she finds it much easier to communicate with people once she realises she can work on the problem and find a solution herself.
My problem with Kaira – her extreme reactions and her tantrums in every situation. I have seen many youngsters deal with much more real, serious problems in a much more mature way. A way which doesn’t say “to hell with you” either to oneself or to the ones who love you. The build up to the problem leads us to believe that she would have undergone a serious childhood trauma – which she does probably, at that age, but most of us would understand the plight of the hapless parents who put her through it and move on, rather than being snide, rude and disdainful to them all the time. Failed to touch a chord like, for example, the daughter in English Vinglish did. I could somewhere understand that child’s frustration, but couldn’t somehow justify this grown-up girl’s outright disregard for the parents.
I don’t want to brush off the problems of today’s youth here or not acknowledge them. Even Kaira’s problems are very real for herself, of course. But if she is able to understand why it happened ( she herself explains it to the therapist), then why punish the parents for it? My humble question. And hence my inability to sympathise.
Supporting cast: Good.
Lead Performances of Shahrukh and Alia: Excellent.