Feel-good music, a thoughtful storyline, intense characters and one very special road trip — the iconic Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a favourite for many Bollywood movie lovers and the cast just came together to celebrate 10 years of the project.
Actors Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol and Katrina Kaif, along with directors and co-writers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti came together for a virtual table read, reminiscing about moments from their journey.
The inspiration to write about a road trip that explores brotherhood, friendship, sensitive male characters and having fun came from films Kagti and Zoya saw as children, like The Breakfast Club and Dead Poet's Society.
"We thought it would relate to that impressionable age and were quite surprised to see it went beyond just the youth. I think it's just that there's no age from coming to age, and no matter where you are there is a relatability of 'you have one life' and if you're not hurting or harming anyone, you've got to what you have to do," Zoya said.
"Especially in a society like ours where there is so much pressure to conform, I think there was a kind of feeling of freedom and liberty. Now I look back at it and think that's what resonated deeply because somewhere it gave you a sense of 'it's okay, freedom is allowed.'" She also said it was relatable for men as it didn't just show them as macho but allowed them to be sensitive people.
When asked why the actors chose to be part of the film, everyone collectively agreed that reading the script for the first time made them feel good.
"Everything in the film just rung very true.... It felt like coming from a place of honesty," Kaif said, with Roshan jumping in to say that from the moment he read it, he knew it was a film that needed to be made. Deol described it as a "feel-good" movie that he knew would make everyone watching it feel good because he felt absolutely terrific while reading the script.
Kaif, who played Laila, a part-time scuba diving trainer in the film, said unlike Deol and Farhan, who are certified divers, she was quite scared while shooting the underwater scenes.
"I was terrified. Everyone else were semi-pro divers. When we were shooting that underwater sequence where Hrithik has that epiphany, what actually was happening was that I was digging my nails into his hand because I was so scared. It was my first diving experience like that," she revealed.
Roshan also opened up about the scene and said that despite shooting it multiple times, it just wasn't resonating until he actually jumped in.
"The water was freezing, and I was protecting myself from the cold. So I was pretending to come out of it. The shot starts with me on the ladder of the boat. Finally, I said that’s what is making me hold back. I am not allowing myself to be impacted by the water. In the final take, I just went in. Zoya said, ‘Are you sure? The water is really cold!’ I froze. I came out, and it was exactly what that moment needed,” he added.
Speaking about the La Tomatina Festival and how five cameras had to be used during the stampede and crowd shots, the actors revealed that they had an aversion to tomatoes for months on end because the smell was unbearable.
"I didn’t have tomatoes for three or four months. None of us could tolerate the presence of a tomato after the ['Ik Junoon'] song. The kind of smell that we suffered..." Roshan recalled.
The Akhtar siblings also spoke about how Mr Dubey, the man who created the iconic "kya tum mantally the sick ho my bwoy" dialogue, was an actual teacher they had during school. "He passed away but his daughter actually reached out to me and told me how it was sweet we remembered him," revealed Farhan.
With friendship, nostalgia and joy to look back at, the virtual table read turned out to be a blast from a very happy past.