Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a road movie. That’s what she said! It’s about a group of rich dudes getting together after a long period, and embarking on a journey to the picturesque locales of Spain, and in the course of the journey, gaining consciousness about the true beauty of life… or something like that. Am I right Zoya? Zoya Akhtar’s second film (after the brilliant Luck By Chance), takes a safe route, and could be termed as a re-bottling of Farhan’s old wine – his debut movie, the decade old and still uber-cool Dil Chahta Hai. It is suffice to say, that with all the hard attempts at appearing cool and hip and happening, this movie falls flat on the face. The emotional connect that we saw between Sid, Aakash and Sameer is completely non-existent here. And even though we do get some sparks of proper bromance building up, the film diverges at every possible chance to explore the adrenaline and the testosterone side of things. So, I am not sure how to receive ZNMD as –
Option 1: A road movie about fictional characters exploring Spain and its scenic beauty
Option 2: Fictionally rich and emotionally deprived characters with their baggage of uninteresting problems
Irrespective of what option I chose, the movie failed to impress me, and my best reaction at any point of the movie can be summed up to a simple – “Meh”.

There are a few points I’d like to discuss about the movie, and they are listed below:

1: The jokes:

Every bromantic movie explored in Bollywood, has had trademark moments of friendly banter, and of boys being boys, carrying out pranks, speaking in a lingo familiar to them et al. Be it Sholay, Shaan,Namak Halal; DCH (Excel Entertainment’s other bromantic movies) had its awesome signature scenes which we still speak of. Such as – Sameer talking to Sid about Subodh’s habit of gifting heart-shaped balloons or Aakash’s desperate attempt to woo Shalini at a party. We see glimpses of Aamir Khan’s flirtatious Aakash in Farhan’s Imraan. But unfortunately, this time around the chaay is very thanda! (cold tea, a proverb which means it is not hot, as it is intended to be. And now, by explaining my own joke, I have ruined it, RUINED IT). Farhaan(as Imraan)’s desperate attempts to be the charming ‘Majnu’ or the funny dude is just that – desperate. The characters try too much to be cool. Abhay Deol as Kabir(a) is just passable as the prankster, whereas Hrithik firmly keeps his serious image intact, occasionally spilling over his histrionics, and sometimes boasting off his dance moves, whilst poor Kabira tries hard to catch up. The jokes are as unfunny as the many episodes of ‘Oye, its Friday’, and there is a limit to the fun factor of adding ‘The-s’ as a prefix to your speech. Ditto with Bag-wanti and a Diamond Biscuits jingle. You want to believe that a gag involving the morning Doordarshan music would make you at least chuckle a bit. You couldn’t be more wrong.

2: The characters:

We’ve already established the fact that these dudes are super-rich,and have more money than me and you. Arjun(Hrithik) is a career-minded stock-broker, who is fluent in Spanish, Japanese and works in London, and apparently can cook a mean Paella. Imraan(Farhan) is an ad-copywriter, but has a secret diary of personal poetries (originally written by Javed Akhtar).Kabir(Abhay) runs his family construction business, and is about to marry this ridiculously rich girl (her father’s assets are worth Rs.10,000 crores, use Google to convert to your familiar currency). These dudes can effortlessly arrange for these expensive road trips, rent villas which look like they belong to the Sultan of Brunei, arrange a trip in Spain without any knowledge when the La Tomatina festival was being held. Ignorant much! And before you accuse me that I am just complaining because I am jealous of these dudes and their moolah, well, I am. But having said that, I still had a connect with Aakash,Sid and Sameer, even when they were wealthy. So, there is indeed something else which is the problem.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

3:The flashbacks:

Speaking of problems, here is where I found out the answer. ZNMD explains its characters’ many problems by the age-old device of flashbacks. So Arjun and Imraan had a history of sharing the same girlfriend in the past (and it is revealed, there was an overlap). But that was 4 years back as Kabir rightfully reminds them, and once that is established, they are cool with that. Arjun’s materialistic workaholic lifestyle makes it difficult for him to sustain a relationship. And Imraan has just discovered that his biological father is Naseeruddin Shah.

Problems, problems. Relationship problems – Baba Kabira’s bitch slap cures them all.
Baba Kabira himself has a problem from growing up from his manchild mode.
And Arjun shedding a voluntary tear after a deep sea diving session – was that supposed to mean that his andhruni mansik vikaas was back in shape? I beg to differ, or was it just a case of my caffeine deficiency? Maybe! But let’s blame it on Hrithik instead.

4: The Ladies:

Chudail Alert – Kalki comes across as an unjustified, possessive and highly irritating fiancé who wants to practically trace each step of her would-be groom. Her character is written as one who priortises shaadi and grihasti over her dream projects, but then she’d turn into this motor mouth singing out a rock chick song. Conflicting? I don’t get it how she’d not trust her own would-be husband. Or am I totally out of the logical line here?

Layla – Katrina seems like has been dimmed down to let the guys shimmer more. She is deglazed and de-hotted to make her not look like the glam factor of the movie. You’re right, the glam factor of the movie are Hrithik’s biceps, the flaunting shades of the dudes and that lavish Spanish villa.

5: The cameos:

Naseeruddin Shah as Salman Habib, even in that tiny timeframe, manages to cram in the most memorable performance of the movie. His portrayal of a man who is eternally not ready to raise a family, and who can be hurtful with his true words is right on the money. Mr.Shah’s talents come through in that conversation scene which makes Imraan cry. And for the record, we can see how an actor of Naseeruddin Shah’s calibre can induce talent just by his presence. Even Farhaan started looking believable.

The underused award of the movie goes to Deepti Naval, as Imraan’s Ammi. No comments on why Suhel Seth was selected as the father of Kalki. I have no words for that blabbering man.

6: Music:

SEL’s music in this movie is strictly average. The opening track – Dil Dhadakne Do is a very pop,peppy and very common track, which instantly reminds me of Strings – Sohniye. The other road songs – Khaabon Ke Parindey and Sooraj Ki Baahon mein, are forgettable, and I had to look them up to write down for this post. Senorita is the only song that stands out, and possibly the only one that you’ll still be humming after the movie. But again, Hrithik dances a tad more than the other two dudes, whilst Abhay struggles with his non-dancing Deol-genes trying to pull him down. Ik Junoon, which is now famous as the tomato song, is nothing beyond the nickname.

7: Spain:

The star of the movie is Spain. I believe that Spain Tourism board will have a lot to owe to Zoya and Excel Entertainment for creating a Spain holiday brochure in the form of a Bollywood movie. Everything has been highlighted in the best of lights – from breathtaking deep sea dives to the spellbinding views of countryside highways, as well as the historic yet modern metropolitans. Cinematographer Carlos Catalan’s camera work deserves brownie points for this.

To conclude:

This is just an average movie of rich dudes and their silly problems, and bull fights, tomato throwing, sky dives and deep sea diving. And there’s a lot of drinks in between. The dialogues are a tad cheesy – seriously, who refers to themselves as the 3 musketeers? I believe this was a lazy attempt at recreating Dil Chahta Hai and they could just get so far as overhauling the budget.

OKS Rating: For Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki’s rock chick moment, the end credits Bollywood dance wedding recreating this immortal Youtube wedding video, and making Farhaan Akhtar cry, I rate this movie – 2 Tortillas out of 5.

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6 thoughts to “Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)”

  1. I would still say it’s little harsh on an honest attempt. I feel indian cinema is far more brave than it was 3-4 yrs back. I will not compare this with DCH (which has it’s own place in bollywood cult list) but it’s still an attempt to show audience that there can still be movie without any hot’n’sexy item number
    few corrections
    Bag-wanti = Bag-wati
    Abhay’s father’s business worth = 1,000 crores


  2. Only recently did I manage to see this movie, and I really liked it. It’s well-shot, quite believable, and the actors have done a really good job.
    The only thing I didn’t like was, even though the film had a very modern, slick, metropolitan, English look, the characters were speaking almost entirely in Hindi. For e.g., “Barah hazaar euros”, “Ek hazaar crore”, and some more annoyances I can’t remember now. Would’ve loved had they boldly used proper English dialogues too.
    For once, I don’t agree with this review of yours. I agree with tze Mohit. You can’t compare this film with DCH. It’s like comparing “sebs aur santras”. 🙂


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