Monday, 30th October 2017

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  • Published 16.07.11

Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise azad hain hum,

Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna seekho,

Har ek lamhe se tum milo kholey apni baahein,

Har ek pal ek naya samaa dekhi yeh nigaahein.

Jo apni aankhon mein hairaniyaan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum.

Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum.

These potent words from Javed Akhtar in daughter Zoya Akhtar’s second film voiced by son Farhan Akhtar’s character of a closet poet brings the curtains down on Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The title of the film comes from a line in the title song of Rock On!!, also written by Javed Akhtar. But interestingly “milegi na” there has been changed to “Na Milegi” here.

After spending two-and-a-half hours with Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), Imran (Farhan Akhtar) and Kabir (Abhay Deol), you may understand the lines a little better and may even have your own little theory as to why those two words were swapped in the phrase. Our theory? Rock On!! was bursting with pain and anger, this one’s wrapped in love.

On the surface, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is about a bachelor holiday of three men, where each one of them has a daredevil task planned that all of them have to do. But beyond all the fun and games it’s a beautifully scripted (Zoya and Reema Kagti) journey of catharsis for this trio, who are all battling some episode from their past. Some long past, some a little recent.

When you first meet Arjun, Imran and Kabir, you may find it a tad disconcerting why these 30-year-olds (college was 10 years back, someone muttered at some point) are behaving like the boys from Dil Chahta Hai. But once they are on the road in Spain, you realise these guys have actually grown up together right from their school days. And don’t we all drop our guards and turn back our clocks shamelessly — or shamefully! — with our friends from school?

Arjun was resisting it. Initially. He had become A Good Year’s Russell Crowe, too busy making money to dive wholeheartedly into an adventure sports trip with childhood buddies. He even has a line ditto Max Skinner: “Don’t say I am on a holiday!”

But then what do you do when Katrina Kaif wants to hold your hand and show you the true meaning of life? She is Laila the deep sea diving instructor who is ZNMD’s first horcrux (magic object in the world of Harry Potter, silly). The other two are Imran’s father (Naseeruddin Shah) and Kabir’s fiancee (Kalki Koechlin). How they all add up to the soul of the film, you have to discover for yourself. A Dumbledorean clue? The stunt chosen by one becomes nirvana for the other.

Zoya, who made that brilliant — but underseen — first film in Luck By Chance has this amazing knack of making her actors mouth music in every line. You don’t just remember the dialogues, you remember their cadence. Also, she is fearless in the way she shoots and doesn’t hide behind overcoated background scores. And that’s why most of the times she is able to latch on to a precious and raw cinematic moment. Like the drunken Doordarshan scene at the bar.

ZNMD is perhaps 15 minutes overlong, espcially towards the end when the Abhay-Kalki track becomes a bit clumsy. And it also lacks the energy of Dil Chahta Hai. Perhaps it is Spain that dictates the laidback pace of the film. Zoya can argue otherwise but she must have chosen the European nation because her cinematographer Carlos Catalan hails from there. He captures the cities of Barcelona, Girona, Bunol, Seville and Pamplona with so much heart, the images just take your breath away.

The film’s dialogues have been written by Farhan and he’s kept the best lines for himself! For someone who 10 years back had written some of the funniest lines on the Bollywood screen for other actors to write crisp one-liners for himself, completes a cycle in itself. “Tumhara naam kya hai?” “Laila. Tumhara?” “Imran, par dost mujhe Majnooh bulaate hain.” In a film about letting go, it’s Farhan who lets go the most. His flamenco scene in the bedroom is an instant classic!

Hrithik is effective as the stuck-up finance broker who is completely transformed in the latter half of the film. Perhaps we should stop looking for a Red-Bulled screen-tearing performance from him every time and just enjoy his light turns.

Abhay is effortlessly good as the pacifier, the man in the middle, well aware of his own life being parked on the wrong side of the road. Katrina starts out like an apparition in the film and then develops this electric chemistry with Hrithik. When those two beautiful people first share an oxygen mask and then do a ballet of sorts under water, it’s pure magic. Just like their kiss a few reels later.

Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s score is breezy and goes perfectly with the atmosphere the movie creates. Ik junoon brings the sexy Tomatina festival alive, Senorita is a lot of fun but it is the love ballad Khaabon ke parindey which moves you the most. A shoutout should also go out to editor Anand Subaya who must have had to knife through cans and cans of stunning Spain.

She may not personally come and whisper in your ear, but Katrina’s words to Hrithik hold the key to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and maybe to zindagi itself. “Be alive to each and every moment.” Not in each and every moment. It’s different, and this film in all its bewitching beauty urges you to make the switch.

Squash the tomato and ketch-up on life. For, znmd!