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"Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" (ZNMD) is a complex, honest, and thoroughly refreshing story about friendship, about love, about choices, about ... well ... the journey of Life (lit. 'zindagi'). Writer-Director Zoya Akhtar takes three characters we might think we've seen before ... but deftly makes them original, fresh, and unexpectedly engaging. Her intelligent script perfectly balances the very real, even painful, personal transformation of each character with moments of joy, wit, charm, and humour.
No one's Life Journey is ever quite what one plans!
Our protagonists? Three best friends since childhood: Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), now an investment broker in London; Imraan (Farhan Akhtar), an advertising copywriter in Delhi; and Kabir (Abhay Deol), a construction architect in Mumbai. Ten years after college Kabir's imminent wedding impels 'The Three Musketeers -- all for one, and one for all!' -- to finally embark on the many-times-deferred adventure challenge they'd always planned.
ZNMD explores whether three grown men can survive a 3-week road trip together *and* still remain friends *and* still be the same people.
Think you've heard similar, before? Guess again! Ms Akhtar elevates the basic 'road movie' premise into something rare and sublime: brilliant character-driven comedy never cheap but often laugh-out-loud funny, and so true to life and people each of us actually know that it genuinely moves the heart as well as the mind and funny-bone. As each ZNMD character in turn challenges his own fear, whatever personal demon that has been holding back his life, it becomes our victory, too.
See ZNMD and discover: *your* life may change, too!
Such strong story and plot would be lost, without great acting.
Farhan Akhtar just gets better and better, as an actor, every time out of the gate. Already one of India's best young directors, his deceptively brash but sensitive and layered acting in ZNMD is quiet excellence ... and deliciously funny.
Abhay Deol is not exciting, but I like his potential. A good foil for the other two.
However the real revelation in ZNMD is, most surprisingly, he whom we might have *thought* most familiar. Hrithik Roshan we see so often in heavy dramatic and/or demanding multi-part roles -- because, let's face it, he's that rare actor who CAN do them, and do them brilliantly well -- that it's easy to forget just how plain damn funny and versatile he can be. Casting one of the world's more notorious compulsive workaholics as, well, a compulsive workaholic? Absolute genius!
On the distaff side ... Katrina Kaif. Wow! Where did this performance come from? She's always been beautiful, of course, but in ZNMD for the first time she shows subtlety and depth as an actress. Easily, her very best work to date.
Cannot finish without special mention of the fantastic music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, long my favourite Hindi film composers. Their ZNMD soundtrack perfectly backdrops the film's emotional journey. Irresistibly hummable music spans the full range of moods and emotions, much like our three main characters: everything from amusingly lighthearted ('Senorita', sung by Mssrs Roshan, Akhtar, & Deol) to cool and modern ('Ik Junoon -- Paint It Red') to reflective ('Der Lagi Lakin') and even unabashedly romantic ('Khaabon Ke Parinday').
But the rocking 'Dil Dhadakne Do' seems to capture the very Joy of Living ... and that is the ultimate spirit of Zoya Akhtar's ZNMD.
Perfect summer movie! 10/10
Best film I've seen yet from anywhere in the world, thus far in 2011.
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