Saturday 3 December 2016

Dear Zindagi ... Mental blocks

IS Hindi film Dear Zindagi about the benefits of psychiatric treatment, or is it about a pretty 25-year-
old woman's fear of being called a slut?
   The first part of writer-director Gauri Shinde's film focuses on up-and-coming cinematographer Kaira's (Alia Bhatt) colourful life, meaning she can't commit to a man, regardless of how dashing and well off he is. She's in a relationship with a restaurateur, but while on a shoot in Singapore, she sleeps with handsome film producer Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor).

   She then confesses her indiscretion to the restaurateur, which means the end of this relationship. Raghu pursues her, but she's ambivalent about committing to him.
  The rest of the film is about her getting to the bottom of her inability to commit to a man, and this is where "brain doctor" Dr Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) comes in.
   While the film shines a positive light on psychiatry and the willingness to deal with mental health
Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan
 examine the cycle of life.
issues, I believe Kaira's problem would have been better dealt it if she had spoken to a counsellor about it. It would definitely have been cheaper.
   Her problem goes back to something that happened when she was 6, so I doubt that she could remember that incident when she's 25. Also, the problem is unoriginal, and viewers who want to know the reason for her non-committal behaviour can read my review of US film Lights Out.
    I'm amused at the unconventional style of Jehangir. He prescribes walks on the beach, running with waves, taking a boat ride and cycling in the countryside. He spouts corny mantras like: "How can you laugh wholeheartedly if you haven't cried wholeheartedly?" Another funny mantra is: "Don't let the past blackmail your present to ruin a beautiful future."
    His office in an isolated bungalow looks like something from a hipster architectural magazine.
   In one session, Jehangir mocks Chinese for the way they speak and their slant eyes. Shame on
Shah Rukh and Alia focus on the present.
Shinde and Shah Rukh. So much for Chindian harmony.
   The first part of the film is about a young women finding her feet in fast-moving India, but still trapped in a conservative mindset, for example, she fears being called a slut.
   Kaira's an enlightening character, but she's not one I'd pay to see in a film. Shah Rukh's psychiatrist character, meanwhile, needs someone to check him.

2½ out of 5 stars


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