We are all our own teachers in the school of life

6 years ago, I watched “A Walk To Remember” with my two cousins on a very small iPod. After 102 minutes of squinty eyes, accidental head bumping (our heads were so close together), and a fair amount of tears (not from me), I went to sleep with a very warm and bubbly feeling. A feeling that came from sharing the emotions evoked by the movie with my cousins, the discussions that ensued, and the knowledge that I was creating yet another memory with them. “Dear Zindagi (Dear Life in English)” is the perfect “watch with your best buds, have a box of tissues, popcorn movie.” Ironically, I watched it alone, had no popcorn, and used the sleeves of my sweatshirt to wipe my tears. That said, by the time I finished the movie I had the same warm bubbly feeling I had with my cousins 6 years ago. In other words, “Dear Zindagi” is a very lovely film that is low on drama, and high on heart, conversation, and reality in my opinion. It was an absolute delight to watch.

“Dear Zindagi” explored issues women in work places have, although to a small extent. The main character, Kaira, is a rising cinematographer who has earned the respect of every one she works with. However, one time she asks her work partner “You are sure you want me for this job? It’s not because you think I am hot?” This line got my attention, because it showed that although Kaira was an empowered woman aware of her own talents, somehow, she still attributed part of her success to her physical appearance. Author and COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg pointed out this issue in her book “Lean In” where she said that women in work places had trouble attributing their success to themselves, but to external factors like “working hard, luck, and getting help.” And in Kaira’s case to a certain extent, a cute face.

Furthermore, “Dear Zindagi” was a very brave film, since it tackled what many consider taboo in India. Therapy. Kaira starts therapy sessions as soon as she realizes she is depressed, insomniac, commitment phobic, and lonely despite having a group of friends. “Dear Zindagi” challenged the notion that people who go to therapy are potentially “less normal” than people who don’t, by showing how brave and hardworking these patients are. Patients who are not afraid to bare their souls in front of complete strangers (although in some cases this is easier) if it means making their lives better, and fixing estranged families.

Lastly, “Dear Zindagi” had the budding star Alia Bhatt as the main lead, and megastar Sharukh Khan as a supporting actor. As a person who believes she knows a lot about Indian Cinema, I can tell you that this rarely, rarely, happens. Although it is changing, few films with women at the helm are made in India. Fewer of those films are successful at the box office. The fact that a film promoted as “Alia Bhatt’s” received so much love indicates that the audience is starting to believe women can hold a film on their own with no main male lead, and this is heartening. I wholeheartedly recommend watching “Dear Zindagi”, because like life it didn’t exactly warrant a fairytale ending (this line is paraphrased from 2016 Hindi film “Kapoor and Sons”) for Kaira, but I believe it will remind all of us that we are responsible for our own happiness!

Film Details

  • Director: Gauri Shinde
  • Location: India
  • Runtime: 2h 31min
  • Genre: Drama, Romance

Portia Uwase
Portia Uwase Zuba’s academic interests are Economics, International Affairs, and French.