Okay, so it’s not a great film. It doesn’t even seem to aspire to greatness, it’s a little longer than it needs to be, there’s nothing outstandingly funny or profound or dramatic about it, there are moments when it feels like an extended program on the Travel & Living Channel…
On the plus side, Katrina Kaif looks awesome and has finally added sultry to her repertoire, especially in the scene where she saunters over to Hrithik and plants a big one right on his lips. There is the odd laugh-out-loud scene, like the one where Kalki Koechlin sings while driving or the one where Farhan Akhtar gives Hrithik Roshan a new cellphone. And yes, the visuals are gorgeous.
At the end of the day, ZNMD isn’t an utter waste of celluloid. I realize that It could’ve been worse is hardly a ringing endorsement, but for what it’s worth, there are a few outstanding moments thrown in amidst the fluff.
The standout is Farhan Akhtar’s conversation with Naseeruddin Shah, his biological father whose existence he wasn’t aware of for a very long time. Nor is the father, for that matter. There’s a nice little prelude to the conversation when he comes to bail the trio (Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Hrithik Roshan) out of jail and stands there not knowing which one of them is his son. The conversation that follows is written with such admirable economy and power that it belongs in a top-notch drama. There is not a single word in that scene that is superfluous.
A contrast of sorts is provided by the conversation between Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan where he defends his money-is-everything attitude and she responds with: If that is indeed the case, then why did you cry after your deep-see diving experience? If that scene had ended there, or at least not had any more dialogue, it would’ve been fantastic. There was absolutely no need for all that trite advice about living one’s life to the fullest.
This inability to trust the audience and not spell everything out is probably the film’s greatest weakness. The film seems to end, for instance, with an absolutely wonderful shot of the three protagonists running for their lives, literally and metaphorically. Why tack on that utterly useless wedding scene over the end credits after that?
Although there is a lot of evidence to support the Sophomore Jinx theory, I have found that it is often applied not just to performance but to ambition. I am perfectly content with a fluff piece made by a director whose first feature was as wonderful as Luck By Chance, but I expect good fluff. ZNMD isn’t Citizen Kane, nor is it bad fluff, but by reminding us every once in a while of how much better it could’ve been, it doesn’t do itself any favours.