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Review: Alia outshines Shah Rukh in 'Dear Zindagi'

  • Despite the flaws, what works for 'Dear Zindagi' is Alia.
  • Shah Rukh, while looking dashing as the dignified therapist, appears to play himself. 
Review Alia outshines Shah Rukh in Dear Zindagi

Life is complicated. And, so is love. So, director Gauri Shinde decides to marry the two.

Armed with Bollywood's current favourite (Alia Bhatt) and the evergreen heartthrob (Shah Rukh Khan), she sets out to uncomplicate the matters of the heart and mind.

But, over 160 minutes of chitter-chatter, her experiment despite shining in places, struggles to hold up, and begins to drag, turning it into something rather inconsequential.

It's unfortunate that 'Dear Zindagi', despite some stellar performance by Alia, never soars. 

Shinde, who had earlier shown such promise with 'English Vinglish', chooses a promising story to tell, but doesn't know how to.

'Dear Zindagi' begins, rather unhurriedly, and eases us into the life of Kiara, aka Koko, a fierce go-getter, who struggles with commitment. She's unable to anchor in love or life, and struggles to cope with rejection. It's when one of her men calls the shots, she ends up a mess, and lands in the company of a handsome shrink.

What unfolds in his therapy room (or outside) is what essentially makes the core of the film. Most of it, brilliantly written and executed, but some left clunky and jarring.

It's a conversational movie, one that threatens the thread of Bollywood narrative. It's interesting how Shinde handles it, but the long pauses creep in, and the dialogues turn unnecessary. 

There are even moments of deja vu, especially the crucial emotional outburst exposing a broken Alia. It's also almost in sync with Imitiaz Ali's 'Highway', even though the context is a tad different.  

Despite the flaws, what works for 'Dear Zindagi' is Alia. She's undoubtedly a natural. Throw her any sticky scene, and watch her shine. She crafts the chilli-eating, pasta-bottle-breaking Koko with such finesse, that it's tough not fall in love with her. 

Even when she's pitched opposite Bollywood's biggest stars Shah Rukh, she doesn't fumble or falter, but holds her own, showing just how far ahead she is. She's even got a great pack of friends (or supporting cast) to help her cruise along.

Shah Rukh, while looking dashing as the dignified therapist, appears to play himself. Possibly a great move to just let the better actor flourish.   

Apart from the performances, 'Dear Zindagi' also flaunts some good humour that's situational and devoid of any buffoonery. And, Amit Trivedi's music brilliantly captures the essence of the film, making us wonder if the movie was able to live up to its soundtrack! Not quite, I'd say.

It's a pity that Shinde lets her story drag on, piling one lengthy conversation after another, but never quite investing in it meaningfully. What can I say, it's a great moment lost!

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