Dear Zindagi movie review: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan film offers bumper-sticker self-help

Dear Zindagi movie review: Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt film could have been a solid drama with emotional heft but despite great performances by the two stars, the feature remains strictly boiler-plate.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | Mumbai | Updated: November 26, 2016 10:58 am
dear zindagi review, dear zindagi, dear zindagi movie review, Shah Rukh Khan, alia bhatt Dear Zindagi movie review: Shah Rukh Khan’s shrink sits Alia Bhatt’s Kaira in a cosy consultation room, takes her off for long walks on the beach, and teaches her that playing with waves is not just a game. It is Life itself.

Dear Zindagi movie cast: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Yashwasini Dayama, Ira Dubey, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi
Dear Zindagi movie director: Gauri Shinde

When we meet Kaira aka Koko (Alia Bhatt) in Dear Zindagi first, she is working. On a set. Looking at the world through a lens, constructing pretty images. We know, from her smile, and from the appreciative comments of her co-workers, that she is good at what she does.

To have a female lead presented as possessing a profession from the get-go, and excelling at it, still feel like a significant step for a Bollywood movie. And to have Kaira declare to a current love that she has had a fling with another feels nothing short of a revolution.

Right there, within a few minutes of the opening of ‘Dear Zindagi’, director Gauri Shinde has us intrigued. We want to know more about Kaira, about what makes her tick, what she wants to do, because she wants to do something, be someone.

Watch | 5 Reasons To Watch Alia Bhatt And Shahrukh Khan Starrer Dear Zindagi

 

And then, just as suddenly, the film gets becalmed. It stops moving. It becomes, instead, a sea of words, where Kaira and her besties — played by Ira Dubey and Yashwasini Dayama (last seen in ‘Phobia’), and her potential romantic interests (Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi) — chat up a storm, in living rooms, bars, parties, cars. And nothing happens slowly as we get to know that the confident Kaira is actually just a sorry mess, and underneath all that bluster lives a scared little girl, dealing with childhood trauma and abandonment issues.

Watch | Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt on Dear Zindagi

 

What could have been a solid drama with emotional heft—the qualities that made Shinde’s debut ‘English Vinglish’ such an engaging watch–built upon the exploration of the fact that our adulthood is shaped by our childhood in ways we don’t really understand, turns into a kitchen sink talkathon, where all the characters are given lines which are meant to be deep but come off mostly banal and obvious.

The vehicle through which, or should we say whom, Kaira Learns Life-Lessons, is a dishy shrink played by Shah Rukh Khan. Dr Jehangir Khan has her sit across him in his cosy consultation room, takes her off for long walks on the beach, and teaches her that playing with waves is not just a game. It is Life Itself.

Also read | Dear Zindagi celeb review: Bollywood says Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt film’s too good

Real-life therapists might gape when they see Dr Khan brushing off rules, dimpling his way through his sessions, while giving Kaira, and us, lectures on the virtues of finding the right chair only after experimenting with several (for chair, read relationship, and roll your eyes).

More eye-rolls are caused by the dialogues which are straining to be natural, but end up being far too many for much too little. Finally, despite Alia Bhatt’s clear and present spark ( she keeps disappearing into the construct of the Fragile, Vulnerable Little Girl, coming up for air only once in a while) and Shah Rukh’s raffish charm (he keeps reaching out for the right `sur’, a mix of gravitas and lightness, and catches it only occasionally, letting us notice the white in his beard : hey, look, there’s a superstar playing his age!), ‘Dear Zindagi’ comes off as a film which could have done with less preciousness, and more plot.

dear zindagi review, dear zindagi, dear zindagi movie review, alia bhatt Dear Zindagi movie review: The dialogues of this Alia Bhatt film are try hard to be natural but end up being far too many but say too little.

Given the potential of the theme—growing up pains, and walking past the past– and the attractive leads (both Bhatt and Khan work well together, she with her gamine grin which falters when she remembers something troubling, and he with his twinkly come-to-me-and-it-will-all-get-better vibe, making sure we notice how being grizzled becomes him), ‘Dear Zindagi’ should have been a much better film. What we get instead, in spades, is bumper-sticker self-help notes which are strictly boiler-plate.

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  1. A
    arun malhi
    Apr 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm
    its a good movie give motivate to teen ager when they get hurt from any relation ship and tell them they can live there life by there own i love it because i like SRKs that chair VALI LINE it was awsm that we should get choice in life while choosing our life partner we shoud try it and choos which is good and comfortable for us nd our life....love your life ...DEAR ZINDAGU
    Reply
    1. D
      Deepankar Ghosh
      Apr 17, 2017 at 12:56 am
      Your review deserves 1.5/5. Its an amazing movie which you might not have been able to understand but who cares. I loved the film & had recommended all my friends to watch & even they loved it. No idea how you critics view a movie but if you give 1.5 to a movie like Dear Zindagi then your viewpoint must be . The audience doesn't give a about the viewpoint of so called professional critics like you. You have never been so wrong Shubhra Gupta & if the guys at The Indian Express have any common sense then please fire this lady. Who knows she might turn out to be a KRK admirer. Her thinking seems to be pointing at that direction.
      Reply
      1. A
        Anand Sunkanpally
        Jan 7, 2017 at 4:36 am
        It is really The Best Movie, now a days who makes such sensitive movies? Alia acted excellently, the role fits her superb! and is some thing wrong with this reviewer?
        Reply
        1. C
          Chaman Masala
          Jan 8, 2017 at 11:17 am
          haggey
          Reply
          1. H
            Handsome Mauritian
            Jan 15, 2017 at 10:31 am
            I have to agree with this review in many areas. There are many flaws in the direction, and it's easy to gawp at the some of the two-liners and performance in particular places, and this story only gets into its stride three-quarters down the line. It also appears to be a film more suited to the gentle teen flick / middle aged style genre, rather than those seeking either real cinematic blockbuster thrills usually delivered by Sharukh or those those who cannot relate to the new generation of mindset works. It’s refreshing to see him ability not just in action, but in a small dramalt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This film provides a good platform of knowing what's it's like to be a reviewer and why Indian Express is respected by many (and if not respected, as in my case, then why it's por). When you write and grade a product or service, you want people take note. So the rules are, tell it well and accurately from a technical perspective, or give a bad review... people generally are drawn to bad reviews more than to positive ones.lt;br/gt;(Just imagine when you look through a review website (say TripAdvisor), the first thing you want to know is what is the the ratio of good to bad reviews, then you read the 1-3 star reviews, because you want to know the flaws first).lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Personally I give this film 4 stars despite agreeing with the flaws, because I enjo it. There's some philosophical learning (which if you already know, or can't relate to then would be easy to dismiss the entire narrative as mere gibberish. I’m sure 50% of viewers think this), and the performances from everyone if somewhat subdued was still wonderful. This is a film which tries to deliver a number of messages which, of which most I could relate to. And what better way to have these messages served by Sharukh and Alia themselves.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Flawed wonderfulness
            Reply
            1. D
              Deepak Gupta
              Nov 25, 2016 at 2:58 am
              Dear Zindahi.....relives all your pains from your lifes and now you will feel more light and freedom.lt;br/gt;It heels your inner wound and kill sadness, after watching it you fell new you with more positivity.lt;br/gt;Performance wise its masterpiece from SRK, never seen him such role protraying. Alia is also cute and did justification with her role. Movie surround around both. lt;br/gt;Music is average but it will not cut you from story line. Story line is perfect and will toch your inner core.lt;br/gt;Direction is witty and best parts are location and dialogues.lt;br/gt;Overall worth every penny and will left you with a lifetime lesson. So go for it. Its kinda mental refreshner.
              Reply
              1. D
                Deepak
                Nov 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm
                Pehle galat rating deti ho aur phir use hata deti ho bad critic Shubhra Gupta.SHAME ON U as the audience is supporting the film all over nd everywhere. 4.5/5.
                Reply
                1. D
                  Deepak
                  Nov 26, 2016 at 5:02 pm
                  Shubhra Gupta,SHAME ON U and go for mental treatment coz u r not a normal one need treatment before rating.
                  Reply
                  1. D
                    Deepak
                    Nov 26, 2016 at 4:10 pm
                    Dear zindagi great film over a decade
                    Reply
                    1. G
                      Gaurang Singhal
                      Nov 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm
                      Say u don't know how to review a movie.. Or say what amount Is paid to u for such a review! It's not cheap Bollywood drama.. It's way different! Movie is soul touching! And it's a great movie yo watch...
                      Reply
                      1. N
                        Nilesh Goradia
                        Nov 27, 2016 at 5:28 pm
                        Fantastic and correct review it's a pathetic film with no clear objective horrible to say the least.
                        Reply
                        1. P
                          Passionfull
                          Nov 25, 2016 at 8:25 pm
                          It's a beautiful movie. Completely disagree with Shubhra Gupta, maybe Indian Express really need a better person reviewing movies
                          Reply
                          1. P
                            Poonam
                            Nov 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm
                            So rightly said ...
                            Reply
                            1. R
                              Rahul Jain
                              Nov 25, 2016 at 2:17 am
                              The critic here is trying too hard to be this really judgemental top-notch, Oscar nominating sorta critic and it's horrible. The writer Shubhra Gupta, of this review has the most bizarre and stupid points of the movie. lt;br/gt;Seriously, 'Kitchen sink Talkathon'? What did you expect? Alia doing bicycle kicks and a shirtless SRK? lt;br/gt;I'd suggest that you rather stick to watching and reviewing low grade comedy like G Masti and House full, Shubhra Gupta. lt;br/gt;Seen the movie and it was amazing. Hats off to the Dear Zindagi team.
                              Reply
                              1. C
                                C.P sharma
                                Nov 25, 2016 at 2:20 pm
                                There is nothing new in the movie and it is like TV serial episode.lt;br/gt;just that it is on big screen with the name of SRK.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This is kind of old Amul Palekar types movie.
                                Reply
                                1. C
                                  C.P sharma
                                  Nov 25, 2016 at 2:19 pm
                                  this is a cheap movie with pathetic acting. move runs extremely slow and i almost slept off most part.
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Sachin
                                    Nov 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm
                                    Ye Anti shyad gharpe Theater print dekh ke rating deti hain...... aap konsi movie ka naam dalo aur The Indian express ki rating dekho....
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Salmon
                                      Nov 27, 2016 at 12:59 pm
                                      1.5 for this movie. I am just speechless
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Subhayan Mukherjee
                                        Nov 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm
                                        Baddest critic
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Subhayan Mukherjee
                                          Nov 25, 2016 at 9:50 pm
                                          Go away we dnt wnt to c u as ths film'S critic plzzzz go away
                                          Reply
                                          1. S
                                            Subhayan Mukherjee
                                            Nov 25, 2016 at 9:48 pm
                                            Go away we dnt wnt to x it critic attic or advise
                                            Reply
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