Tag Archives: Farhan Akhtar

Movie Review: Rock On 2 (2016)

rockon22 Stars (out of 4)

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The realism that made the relationships in 2008’s Rock On!! so compelling is missing from Rock On 2, replaced by bizarre behavior masquerading as drama.

Following the events of the original film, the surviving members of the rock band Magik (RIP, keyboardist Rob) had a good run for about three years, playing shows and running their own recording label. Then the suicide of an aspiring musician broke them up once again.

Fast-forward five years to the present day, and formerly destitute guitarist Joe (Arjun Rampal) is a wealthy club owner and reality show judge. Drummer KD (Purab Kohli) still dabbles in music, leaving him with enough free time to narrate the film. Singer Adi (Farhan Akhtar) is living near Shillong on a farmers’ collective, despite having no background in farming whatsoever.

There’s a real logical leap required for Adi’s choices to make the slightest bit of narrative sense, let alone make him a hero. His overblown reaction to the aspiring musician’s suicide is to flee to the hinterlands of India (Shillong is on the other side of Bangladesh), not only breaking up his band and depriving Joe and KD of their source of income, but also abandoning his wife, Sakshi (Prachi Desai), and their then three-year-old son.

Somehow, Adi’s version of penance for playing a minor role in a troubled young man’s death means punishing everyone who loves and depends on him. As Adi puts it: “Every time I’ve tried to make music, I’ve hurt someone.” Substitute any other activity for “make music” to hear how dumb and selfish that rationale sounds: “Every time I’ve tried to clean the bathroom, I’ve hurt someone.”

Adi’s commitment to his new farming community isn’t as solid as he thinks it is. Days after rejecting an in-person plea from KD, Sakshi, Joe, and Joe’s wife, Debbie (Shahana Goswami), to return to Delhi, a suspicious fire destroys the farmers’ crops and homes. Adi gives the farmers some cash and heads back to his old life, telling the farmers to call him if they have any problems.

More than a month goes by without Adi giving so much as a thought to his buds in Shillong, let alone check on them to make sure they’re okay. When his former right-hand man finally rings to say that everyone is starving, Adi yells, “Why didn’t you call me sooner?!” Probably because he was trying not to die, you entitled dope!

Adi’s solution to raise awareness of the farmers’ plight is, not surprisingly, to hold a Magik reunion benefit concert, including new band members Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor) and Uday (Shahshank Arora, whose role is too small for an actor of his caliber). Yet dumbass Adi has the bright idea to hold the concert in a field in Shillong, Woodstock-style.

Consider all the reasons why this is stupid. All of the infrastructure for the concert — stage, restroom facilities, equipment storage — has to be built from scratch, at great expense. All the people with the money to afford concert tickets — the farmers are all broke, remember — live far away, meaning they have to travel (at great expense) just to get to the show.

Joe owns a freaking music club! Just have the concert at his place and charge a couple hundred bucks a ticket! All that money that went into setting up the stupid concert and travel expenses could’ve gone directly to the farmers instead of enabling Adi to waste it on another vanity project to ease his troubled conscience.

Joe is the only rational character in the story, dutifully fulfilling his responsibilities, while refusing to be blamed for things that aren’t his fault. Yet he’s written as a kind of villain, just because he considers events in context and isn’t guided entirely by his emotions. Joe, you’re the real hero of Rock On 2.

P.S. Since this is a movie about a rock band, I should mention the music. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy did a great job writing songs in distinct styles for Jiah and for Magik. Shraddha Kapoor has a good voice, and her character gets the film’s best songs, including “Tere Mere Dil” and “Udja Re” (both embedded below). Magik’s numbers are okay, but I don’t think I can keep trying to convince myself that I like Farhan Akhtar’s singing voice.

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Movie Review: Wazir (2016)

Wazir2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Wazir (“Queen,” as in the chess piece) opens with a bang but fails to earn its too-tidy ending.

The setup of Wazir is not to be missed. A montage of happy moments introduces anti-terrorism officer Daanish (Farhan Akhtar), loving husband of Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) and doting father of little Noorie. While running errands with his family in Delhi, Daanish spots a high-profile terrorist who was thought to be out of the country. Daanish pursues him, with catastrophic results. The sequence is fast, intense, and jaw-dropping.

Suspended from the force and guilt-stricken, Daanish befriends Noorie’s chess teacher, Panditji (Amitabh Bachchan). From his motorized wheelchair, Panditji teaches chess to children, all of whom outclass Daanish. Panditji informs his new student that the point of studying chess isn’t necessarily to win but to learn how to learn.

Panditji has an ulterior motive in befriending Daanish. One year earlier, Panditji’s adult daughter, Nina, died under mysterious circumstances in the home of the nation’s Welfare Minister, Izaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul). Qureshi says that Nina accidentally fell down a flight of stairs, but Panditji claims that he could tell from the look in Qureshi’s eyes that Nina was murdered.

A look in the eye is not much to go on. While the movie presents reasons to be suspicious of Qureshi, Panditji and Daanish don’t have access to the same evidence that the audience does. All the characters have to go on is Panditji’s gut feeling.

It’s hard to believe that Daanish would risk his life and career on the hunch of a man he only recently met. Even harder to accept is the participation of Daanish’s ranking officer (played in a cameo by John Abraham) in a crazy scheme that should result in his and Daanish’s court-martial at best, their deaths at worst.

The only reason that Daanish can take such risks based on so little information is that the story refuses to impose consequences on him. After brilliantly setting up Daanish as a man struggling with the consequences of a rash action, by movie’s end, he’s free to do whatever he wants in the name of what he considers justice. Never mind that he and John Abraham maim and possibly kill innocent people in the process.

In the course of the unsatisfying climax, the truth about Nina’s death is revealed in a way that feels too convenient. It doesn’t feel earned.

That said, the performances in the film are generally good, especially by Bachchan, who looks physically broken and world-weary. Akhtar is solid, but his character’s emotional range is limited by the plot (same for Hydari’s character). Abraham is good in his cameo, as is Anjum Sharma, who plays Daanish’s reliable friend and coworker, Sartaj.

Another selling point is Wazir‘s efficient runtime of just over one hundred minutes. The movie is exactly as long as it should be to sustain tension.

While imperfect as a whole, Wazir‘s thrilling opening action sequence is almost good enough to merit a trip to the theater. Almost.

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Movie Review: Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

DilDhadakneDo4 Stars (out of 4)

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One can never completely know what to expect when one walks into a theater, but when you get what you subconsciously wanted, you know the feeling. Dil Dhadakne Do (“Let the Heart Beat“) inspired that feeling for me. Writer-director Zoya Akhtar deftly wrangles a mammoth cast and innumerable subplots into a thoroughly enjoyable comedy about a dysfunctional family.

Many things are going wrong for the wealthy Mehra family. Neelam (Shefali Shah) endures her husband Kamal’s (Anil Kapoor) serial cheating. Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh), doesn’t want to inherit the family business, which is going bankrupt. Their daughter, Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra), is being pressured to give up her own successful company to have a child with Manav (Rahul Bose), the husband she doesn’t love.

With all of their close friends and business associates accompanying them on a ten-day Mediterranean cruise in honor of Neelam & Kamal’s 30th wedding anniversary, the Mehras try to pretend that everything is okay. Confined on a ship with dozens of associates with their own grudges and motivations, it’s impossible to keep up the front for long.

Part of the Mehra’s pretending requires them to not talk about uncomfortable things, even with one another. That becomes untenable when Kabir falls in love with Farah (Anushka Sharma), a dancer who works on the ship. She doesn’t fit with his role as the dutiful heir apparent — a role that he doesn’t even want — but he doesn’t know how to live any other way. In just a few days, he can’t envision a future without her.

As serious as the consequences of their relationship are, Kabir’s romance with Farah builds in a sweet, flirtatious way. Kabir’s seduction of Farah in the song “Pehli Baar” is equal parts playful and sexy. It’s an incredibly effective use of a choreographed number to advance the narrative (so much more so than the typical Bollywood romantic fantasy number involving a woman in a ball gown atop a windy sand dune).

Singh is something to behold in Dil Dhadakne Do. He contains his normally boundless energy, unleashing it in the dance numbers but otherwise playing it cool. His chemistry with Sharma is super. Her character is smitten but wary, given her far-less-stable financial footing.

Even better is the relationship between Singh and Chopra, playing adult children who still make faces behind their parents’ backs. So many of their scenes feel authentic: like the way Kabir calls his sister “Dude,” and his claim that the ice cream he steals from her bowl tastes better because it’s flavored with her annoyance. Their immaturity together belies an unbreakable allegiance.

It surely helps that Akhtar’s own brother, Farhan — who has a great supporting role as Ayesha’s former flame — wrote the film’s dialogue. Credit also to Akhtar’s co-writer, Reema Kagti, for a script with so many moving parts but no loose ends. It’s always clear which of the dozen or so aunties are aligned with whom, and which fellow businessmen are looking to gain an advantage.

Akhtar let scenes breathe, taking advantage of the sprawling cruise ship to allow characters to cover lots of physical ground while lost in thought. She has a top-notch cast at her disposal, and she gets the best out of her performers. Some of the best moments consist of knowing glances and wordless exchanges. She even gives the film’s villain, Manav, some funny reaction shots as he fends off his wife’s high-speed, anger-fueled tennis volleys.

The theme of women’s equality (or the lack thereof) runs throughout the film, through Manav’s possessive attitude toward Ayesha to Neelam’s willingness to tolerate Kamal’s infidelity because of her financial dependence on him. The subject is explored in a thoughtful way without seeming preachy, often presented as the younger generation trying to explain their beliefs to an older generation more comfortable with traditional gender roles.

Akhtar sets the right tones throughout Dil Dhadakne Do, interspersing serious ideas and insightful commentary without ever veering too far from the film’s comedic core. It’s funny, thought-provoking, and tear-jerking in all the right places. There’s so much to like in Dil Dhadakne Do.

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Streaming Video News: January 16, 2015

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because three films are about to expire from the streaming service. Dil Chahta Hai, Don, and Lakshya — three movies from Farhan Akhtar’s studio, Excel Entertainment — all leave Netflix on January 23, 2015. Don was one of the first Hindi movies I saw in a theater, I loved Dil Chahta Hai, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Lakshya. If you’re looking to marathon some movies this weekend, these three are a good place to start.

Movie Review: Shaadi Ke Side Effects (2014)

Shaadi_ke_side_effects2 Stars (out of 4)

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Shaadi Ke Side Effects (“The Side Effects of Marriage“) should be retitled Parenthood Ke Side Effects. The main characters — Sid (Farhan Akhtar) and Trisha (Vidya Balan) — enjoy their married life just fine until they have a kid. Then their lives go to hell.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects (SKSE, henceforth) is a standard marital romantic comedy, full of all the expected clichés about marriage. The wife controls the relationship, and the husband has to accede to her ridiculous demands to keep her from making his life miserable. Also, he must tell her that she’s not fat, despite the fact that he secretly thinks she is (and despite the fact that she objectively is not).

Trisha gets pregnant, and the couple decides to have the child, even though they’d planned to wait until they felt more settled financially. Parenthood turns Trisha into a control freak, and Sid goes to increasingly complicated lengths to get away from her and their daughter, Mili.

Writer-director Saket Chaudhary deserves credit for the progressive way he handles the couple’s response to Trisha’s pregnancy. They initially decide — due to Sid’s reluctance — to abort the fetus and try again in a few years. Sid changes his mind while Trisha is in the operating room, following a chance encounter with an overwhelmed father of quadruplets conceived as a result of fertility treatments. It’s refreshing to see a movie couple consider abortion as an option, like many real-life couples do.

Unfortunately, the rest of SKSE is unimaginative, and the considerable talents of Vidya Balan are underutilized because of it. Balan has little to do besides play the shrew, and her character only changes for the worse over the course of the film.

Akhtar’s character narrates the film as he evolves from free-spirited musician to henpecked husband to duplicitous lout. Like Balan’s role, Sid doesn’t give Akhtar many opportunities to shine. It’s nice that Akhtar gets to sing a couple of songs in the movie, but the trite script causes his talents behind the mic to overshadow his talents in front of the camera.

As safe as the script is, the story takes an unexpectedly dark turn in the last twenty minutes of the film. It’s jarring and by no means an improvement. If anything, it makes marriage and parenthood seem like traps to be avoided at all costs.

Such a turn might work if SKSE was meant to be subversive, but it isn’t. It’s light popcorn fare for couples to enjoy on a rare night out while Grandma watches the kids.

With such escapist fare, the outcome of the film should never be in doubt: Sid and Trisha overcome their problems to ultimately reaffirm their love for one another. We should never wonder if Sid and Trisha would be better off apart. After watching Shaadi Ke Side Effects, I’m not so sure.

Links

  • Shaadi Ke Side Effects at Wikipedia
  • Shaadi Ke Side Effects at IMDb

Opening February 28: Shaadi Ke Side Effects

The romantic comedy Shaadi Ke Side Effects (“The Side Effects of Marriage“) opens in Chicago area theaters on February 28, 2014. The film is a sequel to 2006’s Pyaar Ke Side Effects, with Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar taking over the lead roles of Trisha and Sid from original stars Mallika Sherawat and Rahul Bose.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

Chicago fans long-awaiting the U.S. release of The Lunchbox will have to wait a little longer. It also releases in the U.S. on Friday, but only in New York and L.A. The Lunchbox opens in the Chicago area on March 7. Click here for the full list of where The Lunchbox will open in the U.S over the course of the next two months.

After posting solid first-weekend earnings, the wonderful drama Highway carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters except for the Woodridge 18. The South Barrington 30 gives a third weekend to Gunday and a fourth weekend to Hasee Toh Phasee.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include 1983 (Malayalam), Bheemavaram Bullodu (Telugu), Jaatishwar (Bengali, with English subtitles), and Thegidi (Tamil).

Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)

BhaagMilkhaBhaag3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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American audiences are used to seeing biographies of famous people whose histories we already know: Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Robinson, etc. It’s delightful to come across a personal story that is totally fresh, at least to audiences outside of India. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a fine tribute to a man whose life deserves to be made into a movie.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag begins at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) leads the field in the 400 meters until he turns to look behind him, a move inexplicable to those watching the race. He finishes the race in fourth place. Milkha subsequently turns down an opportunity to lead an Indian delegation to Pakistan to compete in a friendly race, despite being India’s most famous athlete.

Milkha’s coach from his Army days explains that his pupil turned down the offer not out of embarrassment for having lost the race. Rather, he blames Pakistan for the deaths of his parents thirteen years earlier, during the riots that followed partition. The last words young Milkha heard his father say were, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag!” (“Run Milkha Run!”). Those were the same words his national team coach yelled during the Olympics that caused Milkha to turn, expecting to see the swordsman on horseback that he ran from as a boy.

The Army coach, Gurudev (Pawan Malhotra, who gives a touching performance), narrates Milkha’s history to his national team coach, Ranveer (Yograj Singh), and a government representative while on a train ride to Milkha’s home, where they hope to convince Milkha to change his mind and lead the Indian delegation to Pakistan. The significant events of Milkha’s life are told out of sequence, but flashbacks flow seamlessly from one time period to the next.

Though the film is primarily populated with male characters — Milkha’s friends, competitors, fellow soldiers, and coaches — women play a significant role in directing Milkha’s destiny. His decision to join the army is spurred by a desire to impress a young woman, Biro (Sonam Kapoor). At the time, the army supplied the athletes for the Indian Olympic team, so Biro’s part in getting Milkha into the military is critical. Kapoor and Akhtar share a sweet chemistry together.

It’s just as important to Milkha to make his older sister, Isri (Divya Dutta) proud, since she raised him following the deaths of their parents. Dutta is powerful in the film, particularly during a scene in which Isri and Milkha are reunited in a refuge camp.

A third female influence in Milkha’s life is Stella (Rebecca Breeds), an Australian woman he meets at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. The consequences of their brief fling lead Milkha to rededicate himself to his training, setting up an impressive time-lapse jump rope sequence that highlights the amazing physical transformation Akhtar underwent for his role. Breeds does a super job, and her scenes with Akhtar are incredibly sexy.

The trip to Australia is one of the few speed bumps in the film. The abrupt transition into the new setting is perhaps meant to emphasize how out of place Milkha feels in a foreign country, but it just feels clunky. A country-western style dance number in an Aussie bar is awkward, and the song isn’t very good either. It could’ve been cut from the film without being missed.

Other scenes that could’ve been cut feature a beautiful Indian Olympic swimmer named Perizaad (Meesha Shafi). While her role in Milkha’s real life may have been important, scenes of her flirting with Milkha don’t move the story forward.

Apart from a few unnecessary scenes, the film earns its 188 minute runtime. Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra paces the story well and includes some clever shots to pack in as much information as possible. For example, a closeup of a hand holding a stopwatch occupies the right half of the screen, while Milkha breaks through the finish line again and again. Each time, the stopwatch shows Milkha’s time improving.

Of course, the Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is nothing without Akhtar, and he is spectacular. His physical transformation is impressive, but more so is the way he adapts Milkha depending on the situation. He gives a complete picture of Milkha in his various roles: little brother, lover, soldier, champion. It’s a joy to watch.

By following some of the typical structure of sports movies, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is easily accessible to any audience, regardless of whether one has previously heard of Milkha Singh before or not. Here’s hoping international audiences give this film a chance. Milkha Singh is someone worth knowing.

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Movie Review: Don 2 (2011)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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2006’s Don was the first Hindi movie I saw in a theater, so it has a special place in my heart. It is a fun thriller with a sense of humor. Don 2 doesn’t do its predecessor justice.

In fact, Don 2 hardly even acknowledges the movie that spawned it. Sure, the international supervillain/anti-hero Don (Shahrukh Khan) is back, as is his archrival, Vardhaan (Boman Irani), and the cops Malik (Om Puri) and Roma (Priyanka Chopra). But five years have passed since the audience last saw this group together.

A few lines of dialog explaining Roma’s desire for justice — in the last movie, Don tricked her into falling in love with him after killing her brother — would’ve been helpful reminders for the audience. The movie’s few indirect references to past events are meaningless to anyone who missed the first movie.

Don 2 opens with a European drug kingpin putting a hit on Don. This sets up a huge fight scene in Thailand, but the storyline is subsequently dropped until the very end of the film. Surely, there must have been a way to trigger a fight scene in a way that relates to the rest of the plot.

The story truly begins when Don gets himself thrown into a Malaysian jail in order to help the imprisoned Vardhaan escape. Don wants to steal some money-printing plates from a bank in Germany, and Vardhaan has information that can be used to blackmail one of the head bankers. The former enemies put aside their mutual hatred and work together.

The story of the heist is amusing enough, and the cast members act their parts well. But the whole affair feels underwhelming, due primarily to the film being presented in 3D.

3D has the effect of dimming the images on screen, so Don 2 lacks the vibrancy of recent Excel Entertainment productions like Game and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. It’s a shame not to be able to see Thailand, Switzerland and Germany in their usual splendor. The 3D also dims the tiny English subtitles to near illegibility.

Apart from one exciting car chase through Berlin, there aren’t enough scenes that warrant the addition of 3D. Fight scenes in close quarters feel muddled by the effect, and the gimmick doesn’t enhance the story.

More disappointing than the lackluster visuals is the lackluster story, specifically Roma’s role in it. The film emphasizes a lingering romantic tension between Roma and Don but drops the ball in regard to her real reason for being in the film: she’s foremost a police officer intent on catching a notorious criminal. As she’s written, she’s not a very good police officer.

Roma is not only a step behind Don at all times, she’s a step behind the audience. She struggles to discern the identity of a man in a police sketch so accurate it might as well have the guy’s name written on it. The two times she manages to “capture” Don, it’s not a result of her police work. The first time, he turns himself in. Later, he’s ratted out by a co-conspirator.

It’s a real disservice to Chopra that her character is so poorly written. In Chopra’s hands, Roma is tenacious yet likeable, and handy in a fight. Lara Dutta’s moll character, Ayesha, similarly could’ve been better developed.

The experience of watching Don 2 isn’t entirely unpleasant. It’s a mostly-competent heist movie that gives a nod to earlier films in the genre, particularly in terms of its evocative musical score. But it could have — and should have — been so much more.

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Opening December 23: Don 2

Don returns, this time in 3D! The sequel to 2006’s Don: The Chase Begins Again — technically titled Don 2: The King is Back — reunites Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Om Puri and Boman Irani from the original cast. Director Farhan Akhtar returns as well.

Don 2 opens in both 2D and 3D on Friday, December 23, at the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington (which has a couple of preview showings of the movie on Thursday night). The Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles is carrying Don 2 in 2D only.

For a complete list of U.S. theaters showing Don 2, click here (thanks to Gitesh at Box Office Guru for the link). The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 over the Christmas holiday weekend include Rajanna (Telugu), Rajapattai (Tamil), Rajendra (Telugu) and Venicile Vyapari (Malayalam).

* – Because of family commitments, I won’t be able to see Don 2 until Tuesday at the earliest. If you’ve seen the film and would like to comment on it, please do so at the bottom of this post. I hope the movie lives up to its exciting trailer.

Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Writer-director Zoya Akhtar’s sophomore effort, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, is good enough to push her into the top tier of filmmakers working in India at the moment. Her ability to create realistic characters keeps the old Bollywood recipe fresh, updating it for a young, global audience.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD, henceforth) follows three lifelong friends from India as they roadtrip through Spain. The trip is a sort of bachelor party for Kabir (Abhay Deol), in which the groom-to-be and his two pals, immature Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) and serious Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), each get to choose a different adventure on which the others must go along, no matter what.

The trip gets off to a rocky start. There’s a lingering animosity between Imraan and Arjun, who keeps getting work-related phone calls. Kabir selects scuba diving for his adventure, even though Arjun can’t swim and is terrified of water.

The trip is saved by their beautiful, free-spirited diving instructor, Laila (Katrina Kaif). She helps Arjun overcome his fears and shows the boys around Spain. The trip proceeds so that the friends can find what they are really looking for: not just a little fun in the sun, but the means by which to fill the voids in their lives.

What I loved about Zoya Akhtar’s first movie, Luck By Chance, was her devotion to believable, nuanced characters. She exercises the same care in ZNMD. Imraan’s attention-getting jokes mask his insecurity; Arjun struggles with the greedy workaholic he’s become; Kabir is so busy trying to keep everyone else happy that he doesn’t know what he really wants.

Kabir’s jealous fiancée, Natasha (Kalki Koechlin), is so well written, it’s eerie. I recognized Natasha’s cold reaction when Kabir introduces her to Laila over Skype as the way I might’ve reacted as a young adult. Kudos to Zoya and her co-writer, Reema Kagti, for creating such a realistic character, and to Koechlin for bringing her life.

The acting in ZNMD is brilliant, across the board. As suspicious as Koechlin plays Natasha, Kaif keeps Laila breezy and winsome. Roshan, normally a charming leading man, seizes the rare opportunity to play an unlikeable character and makes Arjun a real jerk early in the film.

But Deol and Akhtar take the cake with their easy, natural rapport. Their expressions as Imraan and Kabir joke behind Arjun’s back make some scenes feel like candid outtake shots rather than directed scenes. Deol, Akhtar and Roshan deserve extra credit for singing their own parts in the catchy song “Señorita.” (I’ve included a teaser video of the song below.)

My only complaint about the movie is that it’s longer than it needs to be. While the scenery is beautiful, and footage of the boys scuba diving and skydiving is exciting, there are lengthy periods that feel like a promotional video for the Spanish tourism board or for an adventure tour company.

That said, I understand why those scenes are in the movie. Akhtar opted to tell her story using the traditional Indian runtime of about two-and-a-half hours, and she filled the time to maximize the amount of escapism. It’s as easy to get lost in the story as it is in the footage of the Spanish countryside.

Since my only quibble with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a matter of personal preference, and not a problem of execution, I don’t hesitate to recommend it. Zoya Akhtar is setting new storytelling standards that other Hindi directors must try to keep up with.

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