Nutshell Ramble

Neat, sanitized and easy to swallow film about the perceptions of mental health. What it has going for it with its actors, it clearly lacks in-depth.

OVERALL SCORE – 2.5/5

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Full Ramble

Dear Zindagi is a 2016 drama film written and directed by Gauri Shinde. It stars Alia Bhat and Shah Rukh Khan in the lead roles. The film attempts to explore the state of mind of an early 20s woman, the problems she encounters on a daily basis and the toll they take on her mental health and wellbeing.

This is just a breezy film. It is harmless and may not change your life when you watch. It comes in and goes out like the waves shown, extensively, in its trailer. Will this film be remembered for a long time as a hallmark of great cinema, No. Can this film lead to more mainstream films about the topic its addressing? Maybe. If the film Highway taught the film going public anything, it is that films about serious issues can be made and the public will watch them even if they lack significant depth. When the film has more star power and 2 mega studios behind it, the resulting effect is multiplied.

The film is littered with good moments and moments of sheer idiocy in equal measure. It has great moments of subtle acting by its two leads which are soon followed by a lot of impotent loudness. One might argue that Alia Bhat has it in her contracts that she will not star in a film if it does not have a moment where she does a crazy freak out. One can make a case while watching the film that it needed to do a bit more research into the topic it was trying to address. Some of the supposed erratic behavior by the lead character seem too out-of-place and the fact that her specific condition was never clearly addressed make it all the more jarring.

The film is trying to do what Highway or Pink did before it. Shed some light on a pressing issue and start a conversation. But it has the same follies of both the previously mentioned films. It lacks substantial depth. The topic might be pressing but the execution of it is not extremely sure handed. I, personally, am not one who knows much about how therapists work but Shah Rukh Khan does a good job of portraying an empathetic person. He is equal parts charming and relate-able. Shah Rukh Khan’s innate charm comes through the screen and he is more focused on acting here than being a star. He gladly lets Alia Bhat take center stage and I would say it is for the movie’s betterment even though the arcs offered to her character are cheesy at best.

The scenes with Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhat are always engaging and are filled with moments of sweetness, tension and some really good acting. The other moments chronicling her life are extremely clichéd. It feels like a hodge-podge of scenes the audience has seen in multiple films before. That includes everything from calling tech guys boring to being close to only one’s sibling and saying only people who work in the supposed arts are the only people with anything interesting about them.

The movie does have some moments of genuine heart and some good performance pieces but on a whole it drops the ball when it comes to taking the bull by the horns. The gloss which accompanies the studios which produced the film might be one of the reasons for it but one can only speculate. One can always hold out hope that this film has opened a window into more films which address new topics and open up more discussions.

OVERALL SCORE – 2.5/5

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3 thoughts on “Rambling About Dear Zindagi (2016)

  1. Hm… I didn’t feel like it was an attempt to talk about mental health. That’s rather far-fetching, in my opinion. They hinted at the fact that there are much, much bigger problems, yet at the same they treated the subject matter in a way that corresponds to the main character’s problem, which in itself isn’t that heavy. (That is not to say that one should downplay her issue.)

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    1. That’s exactly right.. because mental health is such a taboo subject in India they had to tread lightly.. this isn’t an art film so nuance and depth are not something that one can look forward to.. they had to make their money back😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, one has to start somewhere, even if the first step isn’t the heaviest.

        I guess what I’m saying is that, in my opinion, the movie delivered exactly what it had promised. And after that, to each his own… 🙂

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