Dear Zindagi is a beautiful film about life and its endless joys. The film is a reminder that life is a gift that's meant to be celebrated to the fullest and yet we so often let our past plague our present and in effect destroy our future. It urges us to introspect and look for solutions to life's problems, not outside but within ourselves. Director Gauri Shinde tries her best to avoid clichés. The film does indeed come across as a breath of fresh air in that it is able to think beyond the notion of a marital union as the perfect closure. Here is a rare mainstream Hindi film that completely revolves around a female protagonist with the male characters merely appearing in supporting roles.
The chemistry that SRK shares with Alia is delightful to watch. Her vulnerability and innocence serve as the perfect foil for his wisdom and quick-wit.
SRK is a rare superstar in that he doesn't feel insecure about his co-actors hogging the limelight. As a matter of fact, many of his co-stars have gone on the record to say how helpful and supportive SRK has been to them. It is well known that SRK prefers to have his name preceded by that of the female lead in the credits. In comparison to films of other major actors, women in SRK's movies have an equal footing. Women's roles are not only well-defined and powerful but they also get equal screen-time. SRK's films have provided perfect launch pad to several of the industry's leading actresses, including Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma. This has been because Shah Rukh Khan is confident about himself as an actor.
Some of SRK's best films with important female characters are Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express, Paheli, Devdas, Dil Se.., and Dil To Pagal Hai. It would be quite apt to add Dear Zindagi to this list. It's heartening to see a young actress like Alia trying so hard to step out of her comfort zone. Shah Rukh Khan is superb in the role of an uber-cool shrink. Here again SRK chooses to play the second fiddle. It is difficult to imagine this from another performer of his stature as far as Hindi cinema is concerned.
The chemistry that SRK shares with Alia is delightful to watch. Alia's vulnerability and innocence serve as the perfect foil for SRK's wisdom and quick-wit. One can go on for hours watching and listening to the two of them discuss the meaning of life. It seldom happens that one ends up paying more attention to the dialogue than the majestic Goan landscapes. Credit to Gauri Shinde and team for getting it right in the writing department! While Alia plays a cinematographer named Kaira in the movie, SRK essays a psychologist named Jehangir Khan. Dear Zindagi teaches us to enjoy the little moments in life. It encourages us to bury the past and move ahead with a clear head. "Everything that's broken can be unbroken," asserts Jehangir Khan. The movie encourages us to know ourselves better so that others can't dictate our lives. "If we don't take control of our life's steering wheel then someone else will sit on it and begin to take control of things," says Khan. Dear Zindagi is also perhaps the first Bollywood film since Taare Zameen Par that tries to explore the parent-child relationship. The film also touches upon delicate subjects such as parental partiality towards the male child and gender inequality at large.
The film encourages us to bury the past and move ahead with a clear head. "Everything that's broken can be unbroken," asserts Jehangir Khan.
Overall, Dear Zindagi is a modern, upbeat film about life that's both entertaining and thought-provoking. The movie doesn't shrink from asking the difficult questions. However, what really makes it work is the unique pairing of SRK and Alia. While Alia plays her complex character with great conviction, SRK makes his charismatic screen presence felt while playing a part that a lesser performer may have easily goofed up. It is heartening to see the superstar take up bigger and newer challenges—something that has been the hallmark of his stellar film career. SRK and Alia are well backed up by the movie's supporting cast. Kunal Kapoor deserves a special mention here. It is good to see him star in a major film after a long time. The film is beautifully shot by Laxman Utekar, and Amit Trivedi's music breathes life into it. Dear Zindagi is targeted at multiplex audiences and may not succeed in wooing the single screen audiences in the same capacity but it should do well in the metros, Tier I and Tier II cities.