Another Tangent

Dear Zindagi needs more therapy than it offers

Gauri Shinde's film could have been more about Kaira's struggle to slowly rid herself of the constant need to be validated by others.

 |  Another Tangent  |  3-minute read |   29-11-2016
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"Kisne kaha bachche paida karne ko?"

Angry, scared child Alia Bhatt's Kaira is the reason why we have a film called Dear Zindagi.

Although it is being touted as one of India's pioneer films to discuss mental health "openly", it certainly is a movie that will want to make you feel good about accepting that you might have a problem, a psychological one, perhaps.

It seems you are back in Social Psychology 101, where every other person was pretty sure they were suffering from at least one personality disorder. You read the symptoms; drew a parallel and bam - as a part psychologist you diagnosed yourself with a bipolar personality disorder clubbed with hypochondria and OCD. Ah, nostalgia.

Not drawing from Shah Rukh Khan's Devdas, but there are three Ps in this film centred on psychology that scream for attention, like Kaira:

1. Parenting - That Kaira's parents abandon her for their work represents a sad reality that we suck at family planning even today. Children just pop out because it is the natural course as per our society, after marriage, of course. Grandparents are taken for granted as constant secondary caregivers. People marry for the society, not for love or companionship. Then, they have children to shut the neighbourhood aunty up. At points, if you find Kaira whiny or oversensitive, it is perhaps because her parents did not bother to comfort her after they chose to take her "back" in their lives. They did not make an effort to get acquainted with their child, who was living away from them for over a year, gradually forcing her into a shell. Her younger brother Kiddo got special treatment over her, as he was the one who ironically spoke his mind and yet was the "well-behaved" little boy because he was so attached to his mommy. The child in Kaira never grew up in a healthy way.

2. Patriarchy - From Raghu offering the New York film project because he found Kaira "hot", not "talented" (a comment he was quick to dismiss as a joke), to her aunt calling her a firecracker for always being an opinionated young lady, Dear Zindagi calls out the subtle patriarchy that lurks in our posh urban homes.

alia-bhatt-and-kunal_112916030813.jpg Alia Bhatt and Kunal Kapoor in a still from Dear Zindagi. (Photo credit: Google)

3. Psychology of love - Bollywood must realise it doesn't need the protagonist to fall in love with someone. If not the restaurateur, then maybe the film producer or the musician? Since all of them represent phases of love, none of them were "it". Or maybe the psychologist in Shah Rukh's Dr Jehangir Khan because it is "obvious" and "normal". But it had to be a cameo in the face of a furniture maker - a kursi wala, of course, because it makes sense. Really?

Dear Zindagi is a sincere effort by Gauri Shinde. That we get to see a stuttering Alia Bhatt instead of Shah Rukh Khan is quite refreshing. The film could have been made more believable had there been a little less sunshine and wind. And a tad bit more of Kaira's struggle to slowly rid herself of the hopeless, constant need to be validated by others.

Also read - Alia Bhatt makes Dear Zindagi watchable


Radhika Sharma Radhika Sharma @radymess

Sub editor, DailyO

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