Today I thought I would switch it up and jump into the Bollywood world of film-making after watching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Bollywood seems to be in a very interesting generational period, more and more movies are taking the western/modern approach in story telling. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is like a cross between The Hangover, As Good As It Gets, and Road Trip.
In ZNMD you have three very close friends who made a pact to go to Spain before everyone settles down. Time is running out as one of the “Three Musketeers” (Kabir) as they refer to themselves as, is settling down with his longtime girlfriend Natasha. Kabir realizes it’s the perfect time to contact his two best friends Imran Habib a writer, and Arjun a financial stockbroker to follow through with the pact once set. Imran who is a carefree person is more than willing to join in on the fun, while Arjun a workaholic money obsessed man thinks twice about leaving work at home.
Since these three musketeers have been friends for so long, they still have some past issues to iron out. So they trek on in a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” type of way around Spain, visiting beautiful cities and trying new things. They participate in long time traditions that truly are captured well on the screen but run far to long too appreciate. From deep sea diving, to a massive tomato fight, these three men have unforgettable bonding experiences. The message during each sequence is simple; confront your fears, live life to the fullest and “seize the day.” An old universal message which usually translates well on the big screen.
Along the way each leaves or confronts old habits that are holding them back in life. Arjun being the workaholic he is learns how to put his phone down and let life do the talking. Imran who confronts his biggest question mark in life; meeting his biological father (great surprise cameo) learns the truth the hard way, and Kabir reevaluates his commitment to Natasha. Each character has something relate-able for the viewer, and each story line is worth the journey. Chemistry between the three is also a key factor towards why this film is so much fun to watch. Witty one liners, casual discussion, and genuine acting translates well onto the screen. It’s a modern twist on something we have seen in Hollywood for years.
ZNMD throws in friendship, romance, adventure, and drama all into one story; that changes the lives for three close friends.
Hrithik Roshan plays “Arjun” a man who struggles to separate work and relationships. Arjun is a successful financial broker and works hard for the finer things in life, but forgets there is more to life than work. Out of the three characters Arjun has the most significant wake up call. The trip for him starts of bumpy, but eventually pans out with romance, and adventures that he will never forget. He essentially is reborn realizing life will never be fully satisfying until balance is met. Hrithik is a favorite of mine, and I honestly think if anyone could make a transition into Hollywood while still performing in Bollywood it could be him. Then again I didn’t think Anil Kapoor would revive his career the same way! Overall Hrithik does a good job staying consistent in his role, though he loosens up he doesn’t lose his strong sense of focus.
Abhay Deol plays “Kabir” a wealthy Mumbai based man who works for his parents construction company. Kabir proposes to Natasha his longtime girlfriend, which sparks this old pact from the past. Kabir plays the peacemakers role, a very level headed guy who seems to be looking for clarity. Is he really committed to Natasha? I mean seriously it’s not like he’s buying a car that could be traded in later…. this is marriage. Kabir also has a chance to face his fears along the trip with a wonderful skydiving scene. Along the way Kabir’s girlfriend Natasha played by Kalki Koechlin crashes the party after she has doubts that Kabir may be spending time with another girl. Natasha’s jealousy gets the best of her, and the relationship takes a turn for the worst. It’s a nice storyline that makes you realize how important commitment really is.
Farhan Akhtar plays Imran a professional writer with a great sense of humor. Imran is the goofball in the film, and his expertise range from giving Arjun a tough time, to flirting with different girls along the way. The complexity of Irfan’s character is that he portrays this laid back image but has lots of emotions left hollow. I have to give Farhan lots of credit for being able to pull of the “not a worry in life” role and then switching it all up when he meets his biological father for the first time. It’s a scene that requires versatility and that’s exactly what Akhtar proves he is capable of doing. Imran may not like what he hears from his biological father, but another fear has been confronted, do you get the theme now? Overall it’s a nice role for Akhtar who is able to shine with his jokes, and light hearted lovable attitude.
Last but not least is Katrina Kaif who plays “Laila” the adventurous deep sea diving instructor. As you can tell by the picture Katrina and Hrithiks characters find romance in Spain, and while Laila is a sharp character she really holds her own in the group of boys. I thought Kaif’s role was the most challenging one of all being that she was placed in the movie at strategic moments. She is not the main character by any means but her screen time is maximized by the simple yet powerful performance she gives. I mentioned “As Good As It Gets” earlier in the post, and while Helen Hunt played a much more significant role I felt shades of that from Katrina. She has a confident vibe to her and performs double duty as not only a tag along partner but a makeshift tour guide across Spain. I really thought this role worked for Katrina, and was glad to see the interaction between her and Hrithik take a more western twist in what is traditionally is a long drawn out romantic plot in Bollywood.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a solid film. It’s not groundbreaking stuff but it’s something the younger generation can relate to. Three friends embark on a trip of a life time, and not one walks away without a new outlook on life.
My 1-10 scale = 8