Dear Zindagi (transl. Dear life) is a 2016 Indian Hindi-language coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Gauri Shinde. It was produced by Gauri Khan, Karan Johar, and Shinde under the banners of Red Chillies Entertainment, Dharma Productions, and Hope Productions respectively. The film features Alia Bhatt in the lead role, with Shah Rukh Khan, Ira Dubey, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar and Rohit Suresh Saraf in supporting roles. The plot centres on a budding cinematographer named Kaira, who is discontented with her life and meets Dr. Jehangir, a free-spirited psychologist who helps her to gain a new perspective on her life.
Development of the film began in 2015, when Shinde signed Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan for a film to be made under her banner. Principal photography took place in Goa and Mumbai, in the period from 21 January to 20 May 2016. The film features a score composed by Amit Trivedi and lyrics written mostly by Kausar Munir.
Dear Zindagi released on 23 November 2016 in North America, two days before its worldwide release on 25 November 2016 and received mostly positive reviews, with particular praise for Bhatt’s and Khan’s performances. The film grossed ₹1.39 billion (US$19 million) at the box office. It received a number of nominations from Bollywood award organlisations, but did not win any of the awards.
In Mumbai and Goa, Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is a promising cinematographer who wishes to direct her own films. Blunt and cynical, she is most comfortable when with her three best friends, Fatima (Ira Dubey), Jackie (Yashaswini Dayama) and Ganju (Gautmik). Kaira’s life takes a downturn when Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor), a film producer for whom she breaks up with her childhood sweetheart, gets engaged to someone else. Her landlord turns her out of her apartment because the building association wants to rent apartments only to married couples. All this plus dissatisfaction with her prospects at work serves as a catalyst for her shift to Goa, where she now has to grudgingly live with her parents (Aban Deohans and Atul Kale) with whom she has some issues. She ends up spending many sleepless nights in unhappiness and uncertainty.
While in Goa, she seeks out Dr. Jehangir “Jug” Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), a psychologist, for her insomnia, after inadvertently having heard him talk at a Mental Health Awareness Conference. She warms to Jug’s unconventional methods, trying to use them to understand herself. Meanwhile, she meets a musician, Rumi (Ali Zafar), and she falls in love with him, but they break up before anything serious can happen when she realises they may not be the right fit for each other. She also reunites with her younger brother, Kiddo (Rohit Suresh Saraf), who is the only other person besides her best friends that she is closest to. Matters with her family come to a head when Kaira has an outburst at a family get-together where she confronts her parents about them abandoning her for years at her grandparents’ (Martha Xavier Fernandes and Madhav Vaze) house.
She finally narrates the story of her abandonment to Jug, who tells her that she fears abandonment so much that she does not allow herself to commit in relationships, leaving before they can leave her. He convinces her that she does not need to forgive her parents for abandoning her in her childhood. But as an adult, have the maturity to see her parents as two regular people who are capable of making mistakes, like everyone else. After this, Kaira makes an effort to reconcile with her parents and also works to finish her short film.
At their last session, Kaira admits to Jug that she has grown to like him. Jug responds that it is normal for a patient to feel this way about his/her therapist and while he likes her too (in a non-romantic way), she is still his patient and he, her psychologist, and a relationship would not be possible. The two share a hug before Kaira leaves.
Kaira finally completes her short film, which she had been working on for years. At the premiere, friends and family, and exes are present to cheer her on. This is where she finally meets a furniture designer (Aditya Roy Kapur). Life moves on.
Alia Bhatt as Kaira, who is also referred to as “Koko”. During her interview with Bombay Times, Bhatt spoke about her role. She said that playing the role of Kaira was altogether a very different experience.
Shah Rukh Khan as Dr. Jehangir “Jug” Khan, who helps Kaira find answers to her life’s problems. He describes his role by saying, “I am a support in the film, more like an extended cameo. I am very glad to be in this film. I have never played such a role in my entire career.”
Ali Zafar as Rumi, a musician and singer-songwriter
Ira Dubey as Fatima, Kaira’s friend, who is also referred to as “Fatty”
Yashaswini Dayama as Jackie, Kaira’s friend
Gautmik as Ganju, Kaira’s friend
Yashwant Singh as Kaira’s uncle
Salone Mehta as Kaira’s aunt
Baby Dishita as little Kaira
Nitika Anand as family friend
Rohit Suresh Saraf as Kiddo, Kaira’s younger brother
Amit Nagraj as little Kiddo
Aban Deohans as Kaira’s mother
Atul Kale as Kaira’s father
Martha Xavier Fernandes as Kaira’s maternal grandmother
Madhav Vaze as Kaira’s maternal grandfather
Kunal Kapoor as Raghuvendra, a film producer
Angad Bedi as Sid, a restobar owner
Ivan Sylvester Rodrigues as vice president of a hotel, Kaira’s father’s friend
Akanksha Gade as maid Alka
Aditya Roy Kapur as a furniture dealer (guest appearance)