Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You won't meet life again… right?) is another glam, modernist Hindi film, similar in style to Dil Chahta Hai - but thankfully much less irritating. Okay, we may be the only ones who hate that film.
Moving along! BFFs Kabir (Abhay Deol), Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) and Imran (Farhan Akhtar) run the usual gamut of Nice Guy, Moneyzilla and Comic Relief. Nice Guy Kabir is getting married to (incidentally the Tamil-French girl from Dev D with an interesting name!) Natasha (Kalki (!) Koechlin) and the boys go on a long bachelor party through Spain. Along the way, aided by periodic jolts of adrenaline rushes (scuba diving, skydiving, bull… running) and emotional outbursts of tears, shouts and hormones, the boys grow up and grow closer. The moral of the story: marriage is optional! Also, money is nice but also optional!
The film's heart is in the right place - by which we mean it's gauged the pulse of a common (or certainly common-feeling) trend among young, modernizing Indians: the anxiety of marriage, the difficulty in reconciling traditional obligations with Western notions of romance, freedom, individualism, blah blah. Generally, the earnest, if unimaginative, narrative is fine. But there are definite sections that drag - to whit: Hrithik Roshan puts in a nice, jagged performance as the dark, tormented London financier Arjun. His slow emergence from the shell of Scrooge into the sunlight of Zen scuba diver Laila (a tolerable Katrina Kaif) is a nice, poignant narrative arc. But if the PPCC saw one more shot of a brooding, troubled Hrithik… oh my God.
OH. MY. GOD.
Similarly, Kabir's pre-marital woes and Imran's "missing father" angst were dragged out way beyond acceptable limits of storytelling discourse. Incidentally, Imran's missing father was NOT played by Javed Akhtar, which would have been meta and cool. Instead, he is played by a great pillar of Hindi actingdom, one of the PPCC favorites, and a veteran of Missing Father roles. We'll give you a hint, his name rhymes with Sameer Loudon Bah.
Like the rest of the film, the song/dance stuff was anemic and largely unnecessary, though there was a surprisingly nice flamenco-Hindi fusion bit. Olé! Another unexpected treat was the final Adrenaline Rush of Character Development - Pamplona's running of the bulls - which was filmed with great skill. A further notable sequence, filmmaking-wise, was the boys' skydive: a meditative, enchanting bit.
In other news, Akhtar's Don 2 is in post-production (joy) and we have finally found a lovely fat tome about Vedic India (The First Spring by Abraham Eraly, apparently not out in the US yet? wtffff).
As a kid in our theater cried out upon sensing the incipient final credits: KHATM!