Another movie on how to live life, or is it?
Kaira (Alia Bhatt) dates a guy whom she cheats on with another guy. This other guy wants to take the relationship to the next level that’s when Kaira behaves very cool and odd. Now this other guy gets engaged with his ex, and let’s not blame him here because Kaira is a bitch. But that’s not how it is portrayed. She is heartbroken because she doesn’t have an open relationship now and the love of her life (apparently) leaves her high and dry. There is a break up song during which every guy in the theater hates her guts and then she goes to Goa. This is where she meets the psychiatrist Jug (Shahrukh Khan) who, somehow has only Kaira as his patient and learns to resolve her unresolved childhood issues. During the second half of the movie, the director forces the spectators to fall in love with Kaira but can we? Let’s journey back. She behaves like a slut, she goes out with way too many guys, she works in the film industry, she is hot and she works in the back-end (which is oddly unsettling for those judging eyes who judge her for working in the film industry in the first place), she goes to a psychiatrist to open up which is a big taboo in India, then she goes out with another guy, she confronts her parents with her character and her issues and blames them too. As an Indian, are we accepting her character? Or do we just fall in love with Kaira because she is the protagonist and her character is shoved on our face by Alia Bhatt?
Now let’s look at it from another angle which is totally not permitted: from the eyes of a westerner.
Kaira is the independent woman who lives on her own, earns her living and strives hard in an industry where it is tough to get into. She follows her dream to the end and she doesn’t expect her parents to support her. She dates a lot of men and gets heart broken by a few, and breaks some hearts along the way. She doesn’t deter nor does she take crap from other people. Yet she is bound by the society and the culture that judges her every time she follows her dreams. She meets with a psychiatrist without hesitation to get out of her insomnia. All that I just described now is very common in Western countries.
Let’s fast forward and cut to a few scenes where the real message (in my opinion) is conveyed. Kaira objects to being called jobless and being ridiculed by her profession. She confirms she is not a lesbian and she also jokes about the presence of gay people in the film industry. In a country where love marriage is still a taboo, movie like Dear Zindagi is slowly injecting the possibility of the homosexuality in the culture stream. I am not one to discuss if this concept is right or wrong. I am just saying, this movie is not about how to live life, although that is what Alia Bhatt and Shahrukh are yelling in the movie, it is also subtly bringing forth such controversial concepts to the surface. These are warning signs of our culture taking a turn so don’t come complaining when your son/daughter is gay after you enjoy this movie. Though we all know Western culture has a great impact in Bollywood already (or should I call it the Gollywood?) and the culture is trending, the existence of such among the public is still in the closet. In a country where rape is hushed about and never psychologically treated, Kaira goes to a psychiatrist to look into her past and her fears. This is considered the most shameful and embarrassing situation for any person and their family. But this is so openly dealt with in the movie by the end of which, I am sure most of the audience are okay with dealing with their problems with the help of a psychiatrist. Okay, that may be a long shot, but I can safely say that this movie will change the perspective of people who judge those who seek psychiatric help. Yes I used the word “Psychiatry” a lot, and no, Kaira doesn’t go mad nor does she lose her mental stability after her break up in the movie. Even the tiny details which are hard to miss while concocting such a story are captured here. Patients normally fall in love with their psychiatrist because of their vulnerability. I was expecting the Bollywood touch there; I thought Shahrukh Khan and Ali Butt would be singing duet in the next shot. It was a sweet surprise when Jug turned down Kaira on professional ethics.
The story fits Kaira’s character perfectly and sequentially. Her character is chiselled as a strong character; bold yet afraid to face her fears, independent yet emotionally fragile, shy but not so shy to ask guys out, daring yet vulnerable. Alia Bhatt played the role with ease and matched her acting opposite Shahrukh Khan. About Shahrukh Khan? Well, there really isn’t nothing much to say. SRK did his part so well that no one even noticed the King of Bollywood in him. That is a man who knows how to act. There are some clichéd-bollywoodie-senti scenes here and there but this movie is about Kaira and Alia Bhatt made it about Kaira, SRK made it about Kaira and the director sure threw lime light on Kaira.