Bollywood Night

tomato group shot

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Thursday, April 12
Doors at 8pm; movie starts at 8:30pm

To enjoy Bollywood films, you generally have to submit to their logic. Characters are going to be thin, motivations sketchy. The plots will twist and turn, often unbelievably. They will sing about what just happened, what is going to happen, what they wish would happen. Bollywood films are not, in a word, “realistic.” At least not inasmuch as how we in the West understand reality. This is not necessarily a bad thing. There is of course, first, escapism, which has its uses. But this distance from the real also often places the stories on the level of allegory. Amongst the artifice and the stereotypes there is a reach for the universal.

But every once in a while an Indian film is able to have it both ways, to still delight in the trappings of the form while simultaneously reaching a realistically rendered depth of characterization and, indeed, emotion. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the story of three friends who go on a road trip in Spain as a sort of “bachelor trip” before one of them gets married, is such a film. It is a buddy movie and a romantic comedy and a musical and a crowd-pleaser, but it is also about three men struggling to find their places in the world. It may not all be “realistic,” but it is most certainly feels real.