India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara: Showcasing Spain

July 15, 2011

At one point in Zoya Akhtar’s film, the three protagonists are sitting in a bar in Spain, celebrating the fact that they have just completed a daring sky-diving adventure, when one of them (Hrithik Roshan) starts talking about an old Doordarshan ad. He talks about the music, how the logo would unfold and finally, is asked by another protagonist — “Yeah, but could you please get to the point?”

That could be the tagline for the whole film. Don’t believe the filmmakers when they say “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” is not a rehash of Farhan Akhtar’s “Dil Chahta Hai”. It tries to re-create the same coming-of-age effect, the same clever lines, but with half the success of the earlier film.

Akhtar takes her three protagonists to Spain, not Goa, but you can see the similarities in so many other ways. There is the joker of the group, there is a hard-nosed, practical one and there is the peacemaker who tries to behave sensibly all the time. There is of course the “chudail” girlfriend, and the fun-loving independent-spirited girl who everyone wants to fall in love with.

The story begins with a proposal. Kabir (Abhay Deol), the son of a rich businessman has just proposed to the daughter (Kalki Koechlin) of another rich businessman and decides it is now time to honour the pact he made with his best buddies in college. The trio take a three-week trip to Spain, with the understanding that each of them gets to involve the other two in an adventure sport of his choice.

On their very first adventure, they meet Laila (Katrina Kaif), a diving instructor who believes life is about seizing the moment. She makes friends with the three, falls in love with one of them during what is essentially a very long, scenic drive through Spain, interspersed by long silences which are supposed to convey something, poetry being recited in the background and epiphanies that each of the three protagonists have on the way.

Unfortunately, they take too long to get to those life-changing epiphanies and the films slackens. Also, director Akhtar deals with their issues on a very superficial level, concentrating instead of showcasing Spain and its beauty. At times, it almost feels like you are watching a really expensive tourism video.

The first half is funny and keeps you interested but a while into the second half, you want to ask them, “What’s the point?” Unlike her earlier film “Luck by Chance”, which took a no-holds-barred look at the dark side of the film industry, here Akhtar deals with cosmetic problems — and dilutes the impact of her film. You don’t feel for her characters at all.

Of the cast, Hrithik Roshan is good as the money-minded investment banker financial broker who lets go. Abhay Deol is at ease in his role as the earnest, sensible boy and Katrina Kaif looks like she has given up trying to act and is concentrating on looking good, which is a good thing, because this is a very good-looking film.

Watch it if you can’t afford a trip to Spain any time soon, and for some witty dialogues. For everything else, rent a DVD of “Dil Chahta Hai”.

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