Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Review

I’m taking a break from my Intro To Bollywood series to review a recent release. So instead of talking about a movie that was released nine years ago, I’ll talk about one that came out nine days ago. Which means I will try my best to keep the spoilers to an absolute minimum.

I was bored and looking for something to watch when I learned of this movie. I hopped over to imdb to see what the rating was. If it was a 5, I would give it a pass; a 6 I would save it for a later date and a 7, I would give it a shot. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw an 8.3.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is about three friends – Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), Kabir (Abhay Deol) and Imraan (Farhan Akhtar). Hrithik is hot and sexy, I’ve always liked Abhay since Socha Na Tha and love that he takes chances with his movies and Farhan wrote and directed one of my favorites, Dil Chahta Hai. Speaking of which, given that this movie is also about three friends and Farhan’s sister, Zoya, wrote and directed it, I guess I was expecting Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to be something like a Dil Chahta Hai.

The movie begins with Kabir proposing to his girlfriend (Kalki Koechlin) before embarking on a 3-week bachelor trip to Spain. At first glance, it sounds like a Bollywood Hangover but luckily, it isn’t. Arjun is a workaholic stock trader whose obsession with work and money ruins his relationships, Imraan is a carefree copywriter who’s comparatively broke and Kabir works in his father’s construction business.

The first half of the movie is like a tourism ad for Spain. There was almost no plot to speak of and we just get to know the characters as the guys have fun while they travel through the country and iron out some of their differences. This is also when we meet Laila (Katrina Kaif) who becomes Arjun’s love interest. I can’t help but compare this to Dil Chahta Hai but in that movie, while the beginning also had some loose plotting, I found it far more engaging and funny. While this movie had some witty dialogue and a few laughs here and there, I kept waiting for the story to begin – if there was one.

We get to watch the boys and Laila participate in La Tomatina and this was when I guessed that the movie was a celebration of life. However, the three minute video captured that sentiment a lot better than the first hour of the film.

When we got to the intermission, I was really happy because it meant that the plot would finally get going and I was right.  Well, partly right. Now, instead of moving at 5 mph, it was at 20 mph. The romantic story began and it lacked all the cheese and melodrama I like but was realistic and cute. We had dialogue like Arjun planning to have fun after retiring at 40 and Laila asking him if he’s sure he’d even live that long. Seize the day and live in the moment is her point. It’s a very common sentiment but still somehow made me think about how I’m living my life.

By the final hour of the film, I started to get it. Even though they were showcasing Spain, there was a meaning behind all their activities. The Tomatina festival was to teach them to let go, skydiving and deep sea diving were to teach them to face their fears so they can find the courage to face the fears in their personal lives and make changes and the final scene of them running with the bulls was the climax of it all.

At two and a half hours, ZNMD is by no means longer than most Bollywood films but given the lack of drama, it did feel a little long. I am sure that we were meant to enjoy the scenery, the beauty of the ocean and whatever else so that we could also understand the sentiment of those scenes but oftentimes, I just wanted the plot to move.

In general, the acting is fine. Abhay always delivers and Hrithik was alright even though there were times I felt he wasn’t very comfortable with his character. Farhan did a good job with his comic character and Katrina was fine. It was fun to see Kalki being paired with Abhay again after Dev.D and it looks like they will be doing their next movie together. Are they becoming some kind of offbeat jodi?

While there are some funny scenes, this is not a comedy. And while there’s some romance, this isn’t one. The best description would be a coming-of-age light drama even if the characters are in their thirties. It teaches us that despite our disappointments and fears, we must still take stock of our lives and live to the fullest.

The final song served as some sort of epilogue and is probably my favorite in the movie. I wish the entire movie had been as fun as this.

I think the high rating on imdb raised my expectations a bit too much but with no stars in my eyes, I’ll be watching it again after the DVD release and perhaps it would leave me more satisfied. Regardless, it’s still an entertaining and refreshing movie even if it’s not Dil Chahta Hai 2. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare them and just enjoy it for what it is – three friends on a road trip that changes their lives.

Right now, I’ll rate it around a 3.5/5.

Image credits: As tagged, Apunkachoice

2 Comments

  • Triv says:

    Hey msclockwatcher,
    Came forth your site through City Hunter forum on soompi. God, I miss that show and YS+NN like crazy. Not to mention Ahjusshi. XD Loved to read your review of ZNMD. The movie was kinda a let down, to tell you the truth. I tend to expect a lot from Hrithik ’cause he is such a brilliant actor. Well better luck next time to him.

    Anyway, am an Indian and I can list some Bollywood movies that you may enjoy.

    1. Taare Zameen Par (It’s about a boy who has dyslexia and is depressed. Aamir Khan from Dil Chahta Hai is the boy’s Arts Teacher and helps him gain self confidence. It’s not a romance in any way but such a beautiful movie. I know my description makes it sound boring but it’s not. Trust me.)
    2. Jab We Met (It’s a very fluffy romance and for the first time I actually liked Kareena Kapoor in a movie. The lead actress tends to OVERACT a lot in her movies. She toned it down in this movie and acted naturally. I was really surprised. A Must watch if you like romance :D)
    3. Ghajini (It’s an action+romance kinda movie. Tragic but brilliant. Keep a box of tissues nearby if you decide to watch it though.)
    4. Hera Pheri (My favorite movie in the comedy genre.)
    5. Om Shanti Om (It’s a romance+comedy+reincarnation+satire – Not brilliant in any way but so entertaining. You will absolutely LOL for the Big Cat/Tiger scene ROFL)
    6. Tum Bin (This movie was a surprise hit in 2001 ’cause it had no big names and was starred by newbies but the movie had heart, so it did well. The music is brilliant and I still have it on my playlist. A romance movie, this one.)

    ‘K..I can only think about these for now. Maybe later I can think of some more. LOL. Have fun watching. 😀

    • msclockwatcher msclockwatcher says:

      Thanks, Triv. As a former Bollywood freak, I’ve come across some of your recs. 😀 I really like Jab We Met and Tum Bin. I’m happy you mentioned Tum Bin – a lot of people don’t recommend it these days. Even though all the actors are unknown and it looked a little cheap, it was awesome. I think the ending could have been a little better but still great. And I really love the song Chhoti Chhoti Ratein. lol I know no HIndi but memorized some of the lyrics 😀 As you said, the movie is full of heart.

      I love Aamir but am hesitant to see Ghajini since it’s a remake of Memento but maybe I will try it now that you’ve recommended it. As well as Taare Zameen Par. Thanks for the recommendations!

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