Judging from its title, one would expect Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay to be a tra-la-la romance. But the film actually takes us beyond the ‘happily ever after’ of a young couple. That, unfortunately, is the only freshness the film has to offer.
After seven years of marriage and a child nicknamed Dodo, Mahira (Sajal Aly) and Zain (Feroz Khan)’s relationship is crumbling. An aspiring screenwriter, Zain is busy chasing his rather non-lucrative dreams; Mahira, tired of waiting for him to ‘make it’ and feeling unloved, decides to walk out. This is where Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay begins.
The stage was set — on paper — for an exploration of messy marriages or the challenges of modern-day marital life. But that opportunity went to waste.
Instead, the film goes on to scratch the surface of a series of unrelated subjects: morning shows and their rating games; the woes of a writer in a commercial industry; dreams vs real life; fatherhood; the power of love.
It also makes a mockery out of the judicial process and medical profession; the audience should see the film just to be amused to see how it does so.
All of this occurs in the backdrop of a family meltdown.
(Spoilers follow) Mahira, after many shouting matches and a tussle in court, also wins custody of Dodo. A devastated Zain devolves into a state of homeless wretchedness, while Mahira renews her career as a morning show host and shoots to super-stardom.
Director Anjum Shehzad works into his second film yet another critique of the industry in which he operates.
(Spoilers follow) Mahira caves to commercialism and becomes a hit, but ultimately acknowledges the hollowness of her work. Zain’s steadfast rejection of the industry standard despite financial pressures eventually bears fruit; he gets the film deal that he desired. This message of staying true to one’s artistic integrity echoed Mah-e-Mir, and one wonders what it’s doing in a film like Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay.
The major takeaway from Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay could be that life is beautiful despite the warts. The film is a summation of all the bad things that can happen in adult life: break-ups, bankruptcy, broken dreams. Throughout the film, Dodo tries to get his parents to reconcile. When he succeeds in getting them to see the world through his eyes, their family finds their happy ending.
It’s unusual for a film to put the spotlight on a child star. He delivers the opening prologue and it is his dialogues that articulate the bulk of the film's underlying philosophy. But Jibrail Rajput does not balk under pressure. His confidence and acting ability is apparent, but he, like the rest of the cast is beleaguered by the heavy-handed dialogue.
One can’t fault Jibrail, or his senior co-stars Sajal and Feroze for resorting to histrionics at various points of the film; underperforming lines like “Baap aisa jannat ka phool hota hai jisko khuda ne insaan bana ke khilaya ho” (“A father is a heavenly flower that God fashions into human form”) wouldn’t do either.
Sajal and Feroze command attention on screen, which is enough for us to look forward to their next films. Hopefully, they will have the advantage of far better scripts.
Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay also doesn’t deliver on the music front. Most of the songs are forgettable; the opening number is remembered because it appears kitschy and low-budget, a misfit for a film that isn’t short on gloss.
All in all, Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay is good as a mindless two-hour treat, but then it shouldn’t have been burdened with the extra 'messages'. It was refreshing to see a film that was about marriage instead of the usual courtship before a big, beautiful wedding. The audience deserved a smarter script and better music -- only then could it have been considered as a paisa vasool venture.