Dear Zindagi.......Tests your patience!

Director Gauri Shinde made her mark in 2012 with a simple film with a universal appeal, English Vinglish, about a housewife who felt distanced from her husband and two children because she could not communicate in English. With an interesting and novel concept and a seasoned performance by Sridevi, the film met with a lot of appreciation and reasonable commercial success establishing the director as a promising filmmaker.

Dear Zindagi is Shinde’s second go as a writer-director. She had the added advantage of an all-stars cast with Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt along with Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar and Ira Dubey. With this, exhibitors saw a ray of hope for their empty cinema halls.

It is designed to be a contemporary tale about career-oriented independent girls, Alia, Ira and Yashswini Dayama. Alia is working with film unit and is just making a name for herself as an accomplished cinematographer. While she has made independent ad films and fills in for chief cinematographer’s absence. However, she craves for a big break.

Off work, all three live life to the fullest. While Ira is married and happy, Alia has a problem settling down with one guy. She has an ex, current and a future boyfriend all lined up. She has her own justifications for her actions and she is casual about sleeping with Kunal Kapoor while going steady with Bedi and also telling him about it matter-of-factly.

The film seemed to be all about adventurous young women charting their careers and taking life as it comes. But, that is not it. This film is about a working girl’s complexes borne out of her childhood and her perceived deception by her own parents. All this young women pubbing, dancing, taking to guys (in the case of Alia) and discarding them has little relevance to the main theme of the film, yet it lasts for over an hour into the film until Shah Rukh Khan and Alia’s problems are finally introduced.

Alia is out on a shoot at a hotel in Goa where she overhears speakers at a conference talking on psychiatry. She finds it boring till she hears the voice of Shah Rukh Khan, also a psychiatrist. She realizes she needs a psychiatric help; DD or Deemag Ka Doctor, as she refers to the creed. 

Shah Rukh is a shrink unlike any other. Even at the conference, he is casually dressed while rest of his creed dons three-piece suits. Alia is now his new patient. A bit of first half of the film and almost all of the second half consists of the conversation between Alia and Shah Rukh. She mumbles her problems and Shah Rukh sort of defines them. The viewer is left out totally. As is her wont, by this time, Alia is head over heels in love with Shah Rukh; the psychiatrist in Shah Rukh does not seem to have worked on her!

Okay, so her sessions with Shah Rukh have made her come to terms with her parents; not that her reasons to rebel had justification in the first place.

Dear Zindagi is one never-ending saga of an insecure girl, Alia. While the first one hour and some minutes stress the need for her to find a shrink, the second half is about her and the shrink, Shah Rukh. This accounts for the 2 hours 30 minutes of the film running time.

The film is based on a feeble theme; psychiatry is not yet a well-known Indian concept. Here, the best healers are still the temples, soothsayers and festivals. Even the way the doctor-patient session is handled is copybook West, with nothing Indian about it. 

The director loses control over her film in the face of an uncertain script, leading to a boring and monotonous outcome. With economy in mind, the film moves only between a studio in Mumbai for a couple of shots to a bungalow location in Goa. The same is the case when it comes to spending on props and costumes. 

The smart one-liners, which add some spice to the initial parts of the film, soon dry out. Editing is poor and songs lack appeal.

Performance-wise, the film depends mostly on Alia; she starts off well but in this marathon film, she tends to get repetitive after a while as a pout here and there and making faces can go only so far. Shah Rukh, as a psychiatrist who is not supposed to look like a psychiatrist, with his own broken family and an attitude, tries to underplay to limited effect. Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayam both impress. Boys on the roaster have little to do.

Dear Zindagi is a pretentious film, at the end of which a viewer is bound to feel the need for some consultations and remedy. With a limited screen release and avoiding single screens as far as possible, the film should get a fair opening but, the box office prospects will taper down after the initial compulsive moviegoer is done with it.

Producers: Karan Johar, Gauri Shinde.

Director: Gauri Shinde.

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Shinde, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ira Dubey, Yashswini Dayama, Ali Zafar.

Moh Maya Money….predictable

As the title explains, Moh Maya Money is about lure of money. A middleclass dream but not easy to attain and, hence, leading to a quick-fix moneymaking idea ending in a scam.

Ranvir Shorey's character, working for a real estate broker in Delhi, dreams big and has a devious mind to give shape to his dreams. His job at a real estate firms pays him a pittance besides what he can make from skimming from deals. But he watches big monies change hands all the time. His wife, Neha Dhupia, a news channel producer, does not support with him but he decides to carry out the scam anyway.

Ranvir borrows from toughies and buys a plot but the deal backfires. The goons are after him to recover their money and Ranvir has no place to escape. Though unwilling, Neha also gets involved in the mess.

Ranvir now devises a plan to dodge his debtors but he needs Neha to cooperate. Neha also has her own secrets and a motive to help Ranvir.

The film shows the murkier side of the real estate business in Delhi which, actually, is the same all over. The film has an interesting idea and an enjoyable first half. But, as it proceeds into the second part, it loses grip as it trudges towards a predictable end.

Ranvir as a typical smooth-talker is thoroughly convincing. Neha Dhupia gives a good account of herself. The direction is good in parts. The film has no scope for songs and dance and have been skirted. Moh Maya Money has no box office prospects.

Producer/ Director: Munish Bhardwaj.

Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Neha Dhupia.

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