Kaira is a talented, young cinematographer who is waiting for her big break. Luckily she has a good friend in Raghu, a fellow co-worker, who encourages her and looks out for her at work.
She also has a successful, loving boyfriend and a close-knit group of loyal friends. However, in spite of all of this, Kaira is a self-absorbed, emotionally distant woman who sabotages her relationships.
After dumping her boyfriend with the news that she slept with Raghu, she is given the opportunity to travel with Raghu to New York to work on a major film. But once again, her inability to trust and commit interferes with her life.
On a trip home, to visit her estranged parents in Goa, she overhears a speech by an unconventional therapist which prompts her to seek out help to deal with a past which has emotionally crippled her.
If you are under the mistaken impression that Indian films are all Bollywood musicals and women draped in saris, then Dear Zindagi will prove you wrong.
I watched this film with my sister and we both commented on how much it felt like an American film. Although it portrays the generational clash between the young, ambitious and modern Kaira and her more traditional parents, the viewer will be hard pressed to find any other traditional Indian stereotypes.
Although the first forty minutes of this film set me up to believe Kaira’s romantic relationships, or lack thereof, would be the focus of Dear Zindagi, it was actually only the impetus for the rest of the film. In actuality, this is a story about a woman whose childhood trauma has emotionally damaged her. Kaira’s fear of rejection makes it difficult for her open up and to trust others. Her unusual therapy sessions with the creative Dr. Kahn, opens her eyes to the truth about her life. Through this process of self-discovery, Kaira is forced to step outside of her comfort zone and confront some difficult truths. I do love that this film surprised me in this way. Instead of a romantic dramedy, I ended up watching a film with pearls of simple wisdom and a life-affirming message.
Although I am no expert and cannot argue the finer technical points of film, I loved the cinematography of Dear Zindagi, which is appropriate since Kaira herself is a cinematographer. Some of my favorite shots are those filmed in the beach town of Goa, which gives this film a light, airy, clean feel even while it explores deep issues. Although India has never been at the top of my travel list, the shots of Goa may have changed that for me.
One of my few complaints with this film is that I feel it would have benefited from some editing. The run time is just too long at two hours and thirty minutes. There were several scenes where the movie dragged a little bit, that could have been cut for a tighter film.
Also, for the first hour or so of this movie I had a really hard time liking Kaira. She came across as a selfish, spoiled brat who doesn’t deserve the loyalty of her friends. She makes excuses for her behavior and refuses to acknowledge that her actions have consequences. I almost gave up on her several times but I’m glad I stuck with her story, because I came to learn and understand the pain behind her behavior, even if I didn’t agree with it.
Although Dear Zindagi is an Indian film with English subtitles, many times the characters are also speaking English, switching back and forth between the two languages. This can take a bit of getting used to, but also makes it easier to watch if you have never seen a foreign film before.
Otherwise Dear Zindagi is a film which I recommend and not just because it is a foreign film. I really appreciated the message of this movie about dealing with the issues that cripple us and learning to forgive others and love one’s self.