9 Years Of ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ And Embracing Emotions We Don’t Speak About
I don’t know about you but I think I’m saying on behalf of most of us – ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ is a go-to movie when something, anything is weighing the heart down. The film by Zoya Akhtar feels nothing less than a warm, cosy hug in a cold dreary day muddled with doubts and fears. I know; I’ve said this earlier but that’s the deal with Zoya and the stories she tells. They connect, they engage and they stay.
Until you revisit them and one does, then the cycle is repeated all over again. And ZNMD does all that and more. In fact, it’s been 9 years of loving and living the film that taught me to love and live freely. Of course, I was aware about the trappings of the hustle culture they preach so much about but it really took this movie to mould my mind the right way. And I’m here to celebrate this (almost) decade-long wisdom!
The best part is that it came with a guide that made me look at my zindagi in a whole new light. Actually, scratch that, the best part is that the guide was/is no external validation that I need to earn but my feeble inner voice that. I don’t want this to get preachy or a read like a self-help corner but the way ZNMD made me help my self and many others like me is worth-noting. It also made me realize that it’s not a race unlike what they tell you and happiness is not guaranteed at the finish line. In today’s day and age with the kind of mental health discussions we are beginning to have, it has become even more evident than ever. But like the true reflection of society, this piece of art started the dialogue when it wasn’t ‘woke’ to do so. When mainstream films didn’t talk about things it did…
Take breaks and (don’t) burnout
One of the biggest takeaways of the film was to take that damn break! Most often we feel like we have to earn it and that usually doesn’t come before we go out of our way to prove ourselves in twisted ways. Like Hrithik Roshan’s Arjun who buried himself in work chasing all the wrong things after being heart-broken. He kept saying that he will hit pause and unwind when he has reached a hypothetical milestone but in reality, he didn’t know where it was. Nobody does. If unchecked, soon the spiral hits rock bottom which is also called burnout. He had a friend who didn’t quit and kinda-sorted guilted him into going on a trip but one shouldn’t wait for that to happen. I shouldn’t wait to take a much-deserved break.
Travelling is more than just ‘wanderlust’
I don’t think I have ever felt so strongly about travelling like how I felt after watching ZNMD. We all talk about bucket-lists and going to Goa with friends; *News flash* it doesn’t materialize for the most of us. Even before Coronavirus took the streets and made us all sit home. But with or without COVID-19, I didn’t know travelling with friends can be more than just heaps of fun and ‘wanderlust’ for Instagram posts. I didn’t know it can be life-altering. I know I’ll have to wait for the world to reopen, to see Europe with my girlies and attend Tomatina next (or more) year but I can’t wait. Also, what is life without a little hope?
Confrontations over clashes
The film also had a definitive and striking way of dealing with the doldrums in life. Be it Imran’s (played by Farhan Akhtar) emotional breakdown when he confronts his father about growing up in his absence or be it Kabir’s (played by Abhay Deol) profound decision of not conforming to societal norm and expectations of marriage, Reema Kagti’s writing untangled complex emotions and nuances in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Even the dialogues penned by Farhan himself helped the characters dig deep into my psyche and somehow told me it was okay to feel the things I was feeling. That it was okay to confront and take space and not feel sorry about it. That I was allowed to make myself heard even when it’s the most unpopular opinion in the room.
Facing your fears
ZNMD did to me what Katrina Kaif’s Laila did for Hrithik’s Arjun in the film. It made me face my biggest fear –the fear of rejection—and dive right into the sea of deep water only to come out feeling liberated. I took my chances when I applied for the job I’m currently doing and all other positions when I started a job hunt right in the middle of the pandemic. And while a lot of factors where at play, it was this treasure of a film that made me re-apply for the opening and I swear, without any expectations. Yes, It was the same fateful day when I got a call back! It did feel light, I did cry a river and at that moment I realized, what a dripping Arjun felt on the boat.
Der lagi lekin…maine jeena seekh liya
This is not a song; this is the first sentiment that pops in the head when one talks of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Call it the musical genius of Shanka-Ehsaan-Loy or the magic of the words from the pen of wordsworth Javed Akhtar, the album of the film is a mood board that resonates and reaches within. Especially this beauty that encapsulates what one feels after the overwhelming ride that is ZNMD. One that you might miss in the first glance but also, the one that keeps growing on you just like the life it sings so well about. It reminds one that acceptance is as beautiful as the melody.
Give it a listen again and tell me if I’m lying…
If you have stayed this long and feel that this is just an ovation and a rave that nobody asked for, you are probably right. But it’s not a logical equation you can put your finger at; it is anything but that. It is an adventure of a lifetime that can be taken in the living room of our homes. What more can one ask for?
Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India