The three boy formula works for the umpteenth time as it spins another youth yarn, full of adventure and love. It even subtly takes over and makes you look at life anew in a very contemporary manner.
The plot: Kabir Dewan (Abhay Deol) is engaged to interior designer girlfriend Natasha (Kalki Koechlin). But before the big day, he revives a road trip that was shelved four years ago, with his best buddies Imraan (Farhan Akhtar), a copywriter, and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), a super rich stockbroker. The three make it to Spain for their three-week bachelor party where each picks a destination and an adventure sport which all three have to do. In the process, each surmounts his inner fears, apart from exorcising private ghosts of his own. Exciting places, new faces and emotions surface, topped with free-spirited Laila (Katrina Kaif) who becomes an integral part of the gang.
The good: The treatment is just as the promos pledge it to be – fresh. Jointly penned by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar, the scenes are not forced, it’s light hearted and refreshingly spirited. Emotions are handled without melodrama, there’s nothing taxing in it and at the same time nothing is mindless. Carlos Catalan and his camera make Spain a delight. From the Tomatino festival which Laila says is like Holi, only played with squishy tomatoes, to the death-defying bull run, it’s fun and fresh.
The dialogues by Farhan Akhtar are contemporary, very urban, and add to the amusing camaraderie. The way each character is slowly unpeeled, how each confronts his ghosts past and present, adds to the schmaltzy appeal of the film. Hrithik, the work-obsessed, money-fixated corporate slave, slowly unwinds into a fun-loving romantic fascinated with the stars in the sky, Farhan leaves no stone unturned to be the joker in the pack with substantial depth that he keeps to himself, Abhay, initially the most sorted one, transforms by the end of the party and breaks free. All three actors go through an underplayed gamut of emotions with ease. Katrina adds freshness, Kalki with her “chudail alert” character proves her potential once again. Naseeruddin Shah adds his aura to the film. The bond created by the guys is magical and warm. Their performances are subtly edgy, touching when they have to be and touched-in-the-head in times of fun and bonhomie. The film does well in the music division (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) with Spanish flavoured numbers, like ‘Senorita’ sung by the multi-talented actors themselves and the perfect road song ‘Dil dhadhakne do’. Javed Akhtar’s poetry which goes on silently in Imraan’s (Farhan’s) head, adds another dimension to this emotional, entertaining festival.
The bad: The whole chemistry between Hrithik and Katrina develops with the basic cliché of opposites attract, but the good-looking pair and the lack of clichés in the scenes themselves, cover up for it. It is unrealistic in places like when Kalki thinks Abhay has proposed to her when actually he has not. At times the film feels like a travel show and this is not for those who want dramatic, conventional, Hindi cinema. It is essentially for an English-speaking audience.
Overall: Just like a rich, smooth, warm coffee comforts you on a wet rainy day, ZNMD is soothing. Break out of claustrophobic indoors and step out for a breath of fresh air with the senors and senoritas.
– Pooja Thakkar