Saturday, July 16, 2011

#159: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Zoya Akhtar's cinematic sensibility shone in her debut Luck By Chance, which should rank as one hell of an underrated movie. As an insider's perspective into filmdom, she presented her story of a struggling actor with a heady mix of conviction, humor and elan. In her second feature ZNMD, which she has co-written with her friend Reema Kagti, Zoya approaches a genre where her own brother Farhan seems to have the Midas touch- that of a 'buddy movie'. And, like with Luck by Chance this time around too, Zoya comes out flying in all colors.

ZNMD is about three friends, Kabir (Abhay Deol), Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) who take a 3 week road trip to Spain, before Kabir's wedding to Natasha (Kalki Koechlin). Beneath a trip of bonhomie between the three friends, lie deeper demons that each of them is struggling with. Arjun is so busy making money as a financial broker, he seems to have little time for friends and relationships. Kabir is set back with Natasha's new-found possessive streak as the bride-to-be and Imraan has an ulterior motive on the road trip, that to meet his father who abandoned him as a child. The screenplay moves at a breezy pace in the first half and regales you with some typical moments of leg-pulling between the friends. The real issues to be dealt with start emerging in the second half where the fun factor takes a backseat and the camaraderie gives way to each coming to terms with their own dilemma.

The pace understandably drops but not the joie de vivre between the characters that the movie plays on smartly throughout. One particular scene of sky diving is shot beautifully and full marks to DOP Carlos Catalan and the writers for their vision in conjuring those magical couple of minutes on-screen. The bonding between Farhan, Hrithik and Abhay is mellifluos and though not as game-changing as DCH, ZNMD allows each of them to emerge strongly as both lead and supporting actors. With different character sketches, the writers makes us traverse through their backstories without boring you. For instance, you come to know of a major source of friction in the past between Arjun and Imraan within the blink of an eye. The emotional scenes also stand out for the impact and a sublime cameo by Naseerudin Shah jolts you out of your seat. If there's anything wrong with the movie, it's the duration which stretched at 15-20 minutes too long, Katrina's weak acting and a couple of needless songs that weave more of Spain into themselves than moving the story forward.

ZNMD has more than just slick packaging working for itself. You can be forgiven for thinking that this is the old wine of Rock On and DCH being served in a new bottle. However, it scores high in it's writing and direction departments, both infused with as much verve as substance. It is also served very well with the performances of it's lead trio. A special word here for Farhan Akhtar who has also penned the youthful dialogues for the movie, his talents becoming uncountable with every passing movie. It is hard to put a finger on any scene in the movie that lacked a sense of purpose or occassion and when that happens you generally end up with a neat and tidy movie.

And that's what ZNMD really is.

Rating: 7.1/10

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