Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, Kalki Koechlin
Directed by Zoya Akhtar
Films dealing with life-altering epiphanies are always shot in stunning locations. And Hindi films dealing with the same, need a stunning cast as well. A possible rationale: beautiful places relieve stress and bring things into perspective. And beautiful people experiencing divine realizations can hold your perspective on the screen, often resulting in a 'ka-ching' sound at the box office. 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' (ZNMD) is one such film.
In true 'Hangover' meets Vikas-Krishna-Barcelona spirit, the film deals with a bachelor adventure marinated with stories of finding, losing and forgetting love. Kabir (Abhay Deol), an affluent construction tycoon is about to take the marital plunge. But not before he completes a much-postponed trip with school buddies, investment banker (and constantly grumpy) Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) and freestyle flirt Imraan (Farhan Akhtar).
So, the boys with biceps shoot off to Spain, a land where sunny means a summery glow and not sweaty and stinky, much like an AC studio in Mahalaxmi. Now, the deal is that each would pick a secret adventure sport and the others would have to join him at it.
The problem arises when Kabir's fiancé, poisonously possessive Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) lands up in Spain suspecting a wild orgy (don't get your hopes up, there aren't any). Soon, Kabir takes over as grumpy and Arjun finds hope underwater, as spunky skiing instructor Laila (Katrina Kaif) shows him corals and also offers morals like 'seize the day' and 'live in the moment for you could die tomorrow'. These prophetic pearls of wisdom (from the rough draft of Guzaarish 2?) pierce through Kabir and he realizes how he cherishes things besides money. On Arjun's exaggerated revelations, Imraan remarks, "Ek hi dubki mein zindagi ke saarein raaz khul gaye? Tujhe toh underwater hi rehna chahiye." But then Imraan only spends his screen presence saying and doing things that would be considered unacceptable or just down-right silly in adult society.
The film isn't as simplistic as it seems and each character has a back story and internal conflicts that surface intermittently between thrill-seeking stunts, sugary love, drunk talking and some seriously childish pranks. What is aesthetic in this film apart from the charming Spanish countryside is that scenes which would usually be served with heightened melodrama are quite well contained and subtle, yet convey the emotion.
The music is hummable but the choreography usually finds Abay Deol playing the part of 'Senorita'. Farhan's comic timing is immaculate but his shayari is cocaine-infused and like a soft murmuring background score it could lull you to sleep. Kalki is deliciously annoying as her character required her to be and Katrina's performance doesn't make or break this film. The film's overall humour quotient is not very high and is mostly situational and there are usually more people laughing on the screen than in the audience.
In a tasteful manner, ZNMD has managed to do for Spain, what 'Dil Chahta Hai' did for Goa, beautifully selling the beaches, babes, tomatoes, tortillas and thrilling adventure sports. Spaniards should only be cautious that this tourism AV doesn't do to their country what the malls did to the mills of Lower Parel. Do I hear McTacos?
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Facebook