Zoya Akhtar has established herself as one of the most distinctive and sensitive director-writer and is famously known for portraying complex dynamics of human relationships and more complexing Multi-stars onscreen luminously.
She has directed only four films in her career spanning of 7 years, yet the magick spellbinds me till date and reaches the core of my heart.
What makes Zoya special, is her determination to take a leap of faith and is visible in her work. it is the manner in which she narrates her story with pure affection and maintains a strong belief fearlessly without paying any heed about what the people around have to say.
Let’s find out what did we learn from her well-crafted films and why is still remains the best :
Luck By Chance (2009)
Zoya Akhtar not only poked fun at Bollywood but also convincingly explored the struggle of every dreamer with a desire to enter this dark, mesmerizing and manipulative world. I was in love with each and every character in it, but Sona Mishra and Vikram Jai Singh took my heart away (played brilliantly by Konkona Sen Sharma and Farhan Akhtar respectively).
Both yearning for a major launch. However Sona, despite being snubbed by the opportunist producer and withdrawn from the promises made to her, remains a well-wisher and stands as a stronger support for Vikram and he, fallen in the trapping of raising stardom, remains unsuccessful in sustaining the relationship with her.
I personally felt Climax was the strongest and emotionally moving part. Sona emerges as a successful television actor and tells the interviewer that She is happier living an independent life with good income enough for her living instead of being upset for not becoming a big film actor. The end credit had me lump-in-the-throat with Konkona, on her way to shoot on a taxi, expresses both peace and hope to it make it big someday. Marvellous !
Lessons learned : Keep dreaming and fuel it with your motivation, Never forget the people who have stood by you when you were nobody, Find happiness in your work, no matter how small or big it may look.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
Who could’ve imagined sky-diving, scuba-diving and scary bull run will have such an everlasting linger on our mind?
Spain became an exotic holiday destination for bachelors and spinsters with the release of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. Zoya, with her second directorial effort, taught us real lessons more than what was perceived as ‘Extensive Spain Tourism’ and absurdly labeled as ‘Film for Riches’
It had a universal theme of friendships and reinforced us to follow our heart. One of the most inspiring films I have ever seen after ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ (coincidentally a cult film on friendship directed by Zoya’s brother Farhan way back in 2001)
Guy team were enthusiastic, What fascinated me are the females who were as real and flesh of blood as the guys.
Katrina Kaif (Laila) & Kalki Koechlin (Natasha) were scintillating, While Laila belonged to Manic Pixie Dream Girl who teaches the brooding Arjun to embrace life and experience the adventures including as funny as lying on the ground and counting stars, on the other hand, Natasha is a suspicious, nagging yet progressive woman who is ready to sacrifice her successful career to sustain her future marriage much to her fiancee’s shock.
Zoya spells a magic of iconic climax here as well. where Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), Kabir (Abhay Deol) and Imraan (Farhan Akhtar) vows to follow their heart if anyone of them survives the dangerous bull run practice in Pamplona. Needlessly to say, they do stick to their promises (as seen in the end credits).
Lessons learned : Seize the moment my friend ! How can you guarantee will you be alive by the time you complete 40?, Follow your heart, Plan vacations with friends, try challenging outdoor sports to overcome the resistance, It’s never too late or too crazy to lie down and count stars. Make peace with past & move on.
Bombay Talkies : Segment – ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ (2013)
Bombay Talkies, An anthology film, had a unique directorial collaboration of Karan Johar, Dibarkar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap to celebrate the centenary of Indian Cinema
Zoya had written a fascinating short film about a 12-year-old boy Vicky who, with the help of his elder sister, organizes a ticketed event for their neighborhood.
Hey, There’s an interesting backdrop behind this !
Vicky is himself the host and dances to the tunes of chartbuster hit ‘Sheila Ki Jawaani’. He realizes to pursue his dream to become a dancer in a very fairy-tale fashion and moreover, finds comfort in dressing up as a girl.
From miles away, one can easily make out something far more than what people can guess and most probably handle.Vicky aspires to be a girl too.
Zoya doesn’t hit our head with a hammer to convey the delicate message of transgenderism and self-approval, instead does it with subtlety and normality from a little kid’s perspective. Naman Jain quite effortlessly portrays Vicky and springs a pleasant surprise with his inspired and uninhibited dance moves.
Lessons Learned : Nurture your dream, brace yourself to face obstacles to elevate your growth. Maintain the dream in secrecy until the right time transpires, If you find happiness in any field usually adhering to a opposite gender; Go for it. Develop the attitude of ‘damn-to-care’ because in the end it is ‘You’ who matters. There is no shame to feel like the opposite gender physically and emotionally; in short Transgender is normal and individualistic.
Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)
Mehra family are just like us, nothing different. They belong to an elite society and paint themselves as the most progressive family, but behind this superficial masks lies a regressive mindset and uncomfortable truth : Dysfunctionality.
We get to see fading old love between the egoistic parents, their tendency to please the world to remain ‘perfect’, Daughter’s successful business holds no value and sense of pride in them and seen eventually sealed her with an arranged marriage to a family consisting of momma’s boy husband and chronic hypochondriac mother-in-law she can’t seem to make peace with, Son develop cold feet to fill his father’s shoe to take in-charge of family business against his wish to be a pilot.
We could correlate with them so profoundly, they are ubiquitous. It’s such a fascinating watch and I had such a great time loving it.
Shefali Shah was riveting as Neelam Mehra. She is someone who might appear as a cunning fox in the surface, read her eyes when she chokes herself with cupcakes then you realise she is disturbed by the nightmarish possibility of her husband leaving her.
Kamal Mehra is an industrialist so particular about his life to such an extent that he never misses the chances to let his freak flag fly irrespective of how boring it may sound to others. Anil Kapoor was such an absolute delight.
Anushka Sharma as the fearless dancer Farah Ali is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl to Ranveer’s Kabir Mehra (terrific terrific performance) with a kickass quote none of will forget : When you Jump from the ship, you either Sink or Swim. Choice is yours’
Priyanka Chopra’s is a treat to watch as Ayesha, an independent woman who has come to term that things aren’t working in her favor and need to release herself from the being chained but can’t seem to muster the courage to rebel her parents.
The Climax was short and straightforward putting an entire focus on patching up an unlikeliest of the family to accept and love each other.
Lessons Learned : Follow your heart, ‘All family in this world are imperfect, so deal with it’, Having a pet at home is therapeutic, Parents are human too so never shy away from helping them get back to right, Planning a cruise trip to Europe is not all a bad idea, You love someone, go ahead and say it & most importantly : Forget about the world’s judgment, Be real to yourself and others.
I have written more than I had set an expectation. Nevertheless, The common message Zoya tries to convey is exactly, would like to mention it again. Follow your heart and seize the moment. That’s how life is supposed to be celebrated and treasured.
Excited to see what’s in store for us from Zoya’s masterful filmmaking !