‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ puts life into perspective; all-around great film

Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho | Toh zinda ho tum | Nazar mein khwaabon ki bijliyan leke chal rahe ho | Toh zinda ho tum

Hawaa ke jhonkon ke jaise azad rehna seekho | Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna seekho | Har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein | Har ek pal ik naya samaan dekhein yeh nigaahein

Jo apni aankhon mein hairaaniyaan leke chal rahe ho | Toh zinda ho tum | Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyaan leke chal rahe ho | Toh zinda ho tum

Javed Akhtar

This roughly translates to:

If you have eagerness in your heart | it means you are alive | If your eyes are filled with dreams | it means you are alive

Learn to be free like the wind | Learn to flow freely like the river | Embrace every moment with open arms | See a new horizon every time with your eyes

If you carry surprise in your eyes | it means you are alive | If you have eagerness in your heart | it means you are alive

It is with this mindset that one should begin watching “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD),” or (rough translation) “You only have one life to live.”

After my sister told me that I had been missing out on all of these Bollywood films from this past year (Ra.One, ZNMD, Dirty Picture to name a few), I finally caved in and watched ZNMD. Let me start by saying I was expecting a pretty good movie just based on the soundtrack itself. I mean, if you account for the arrangements and lyrical content for most of the songs, you’ll agree that the film and actors had to deliver a stellar performance to match such a versatile and diverse sound. And they did.

Think of the first Hangover film, except with more life-oriented seriousness and less dramatic folly on the characters’ parts.

The coming-of-age story, while it has been done millions of times, never gets old, especially when packaged in the way director Zoya Akhtar chose to do so. From the multiple storylines, audience members are able to individually relate to each of the characters and their own personal struggles. For example, Hrithik Roshan’s character, Arjun, is a workaholic who believes money is the most important thing in the world; Abhay Deol’s Kabir just proposed to his girlfriend and is already experiencing strains on his relationship; and Farhan Akhtar’s Imraan is in search of his true identity and biological father. All three are truly not living but instead going through the motions until they are able to discover their own personal truths and grow as people.

Of course, the three character go on a three-week bachelor trip through Spain, each choosing an extreme sport that the others had to complete. Kabir chooses deep-sea scuba diving, Arjun decides the group should sky-dive and Imraan wants all of them to participate in bull-running. In the meantime, they meet the beautiful Laila, played by Katrina Kaif, who helps Arjun see the real meaning of life and even persuades the guys to attend the annual Tomatina festival.

Screenwriting-wise, I was really impressed with how Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar incorporated the plot twists of Kabir’s story. From the opening scene to his own climax, the conflicts were beautifully placed and executed. Another thing I really liked was how each character in the film had incorporated an extreme sport into their story line. This sport choice shed a lot of light on who they were as characters and what they really desired out of life, even if they couldn’t readily admit to it.

The only thing I didn’t really like was the ending. I felt it was too abrupt. Also, the credits had me second-guessing my own conclusions about the film and at some points made me lose faith in the characters (which was promptly restored once I finished ALL of the credits).

All in all, the movie really resonated with me. As someone who is pretty much transitioning into his last year of college and trying to understand life fully, films like this really give me hope that I won’t screw it all up. It also shows me the value of those true friends who will let you know if you’re making a terrible decision – thank god I have a couple of them…

Here’s to living. and living freely. Because if you’re do not have that eagerness in your heart of that spark of surprise in your eyes, you are not really living.

I’ll leave you with my favorite song from the film: “Senorita.”

GRADE: ★★★★☆

Has the film affected you in the same capacity? Let me know!