'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' remains true to its narrative and is as much unadulterated as the fun the three boys have, indulging in untried adventure sports.
The film has 3 stars in their own right yet it employs them as actors over heroes. There are no heroic entries, stylized background score or larger than life action. The entire film is shot in virgin locations of Spain, yet the beauty of the picturesque country is used only as a catalyst and not as a gimmick in this road flick. And though the film has characters like a possessive girlfriend, a flirtatious friend, an illegitimate father and immense scope for melodrama, it remains subtle and lighthearted throughout. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara remains true to its narrative and is as much unadulterated as the fun the three boys have, indulging in untried adventure sports.
Kabir (Abhay Deol) is engaged to Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) and wants to go on a bachelor trip with his two childhood friends before getting married. They had a pact regarding the trip that each one gets to do one adventure sport of his choice and the other two have to join in the act, whether they like or not. Imran (Farhan Akhtar) has an additional agenda to be on the trip – to find his biological father about whom he has lately discovered. Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) is a workaholic financial trader who wants to earn enough and early for retirement at 40.
As they initiate an adventurous road trip across Spain, they try their hands on everything from deep-sea diving, sky-diving to running with the bulls. And en route they liberate themselves from all the bindings of world.
It's ironical that it took female minds to come up with, perhaps, what one can call the most authentic film on boy-bonding since Dil Chahta Hai or 3 Idiots . Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti's writing is simple, straightforward, well-etched and character-driven. The narrative doesn't waste much time to initiate the road trip and works towards individual character conflicts amidst the strategically placed adventure sport episodes. And while the adventure is convincingly captured, it never overpowers the basic essence of human drama in the film.
The credible camaraderie between the three male leads is what makes you relate to the film effortlessly. Their bonding is never sugary sweet of the yeh-dosti-hum-nahi-todenge types and they do have their share of hiccups, which makes it more real and believable. For instance Imran and Arjun share cold vibes over a common fling they had years back. Yet it never gets malicious and their tendency to stick together makes it charming and assures a smile on your face throughout. Even cinematically, the screen-space amongst the three is perfectly poised with no character (or actor) attempting to overshadow the other at any occasion.
Another beauty of the narrative is that it never delves deep into the past of any of the protagonists. Like Arjun has had a failed relationship and Imran is in search of his father who abandoned him before birth. But none of the conflicts are touched upon through detailed flashback accounts, yet the impact is never diluted. The same applies for Imran and Arjun's initial apathetic chemistry resulting from their past state of 'affairs', which isn't probed beyond a menial mention. Moreover Zoya Akhtar's ability to introduce humour even in the most unlikely serious situations like when the trio get into a squabble or are behind bars is absolutely commendable.
Each of the adventure sport from deep-sea diving, sky-diving to running with the bulls and even the Tomatina festival is filmed to realistic and riveting effect, giving a factual feel of the escapade. The sky-diving segment takes the cake though, for the detail and depth in which it is picturized, making the audience literally experience every moment of the adventure. Though one might have witnessed similar feats on Discovery documentaries, what sets it apart in the film is the exhilarating emotion that the viewer gets to see and feel through the protagonists.
The pace does drop at times, but since it's never designed as a hardcore adventure flick, it never bothers you. Also the runtime is long but the film never drags. Like Zoya's Luck By Chance , even here the end comes somewhat abrupt by Bollywood standards, yet helps cutting the compulsions of a high-voltage dramatic climax. Cinematographer Carlos Catalan amazingly captures the beauty of the foreign lands and alien adventures giving a surreal feel to the film. Farhan Akhtar adds a slice-of-life freshness to the dialogues though his monologues get verbose at times. Anand Subaya's editing is crisp and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music befits the film.
All the three male leads play their part to perfection. Hrithik Roshan, back with his Greek God looks, is charming not just in his looks but in his natural act as well. Farhan Akhtar shows a refreshing flair for comedy and has impeccable comic timing. Also he's wonderful in the poignant scene where he confronts his father. Abhay Deol is commendable as the one who initiates the trip, mediates between his friends and is confused about his own love-life. Katrina Kaif is delightful in her part. Kalki Koechlin is excellent in her bitchy role of a possessive girlfriend. Naseeruddin Shah is impressive in his cameo.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara celebrates friendship like never before. Do not miss. Aisi film milegi na dobara...