Several eyebrows were raised when the May-December casting of Gauri Shinde's film was revealed last year. SRK and Alia have 28 years between them and an age inappropriate romance was suspected. That this was not so was made clear when the first look of Dear Zindagi was posted online - as mentor to Alia's character, SRK is cast in a quasi father figure role, and appears to have the unenviable job of rescuing her from the depths of romantic despair. And despair it is, detailed in a song titled Just Go To Hell Dil.
Alia Bhatt's character, named Kaira, is an aspiring cinematographer. The trouble with Kaira is, as explained in one of the four teasers of the film, 'love, break-up, repeat.' The break-ups may not be limited to the characters played by Kunal Kapoor and Angad Bedi - actors Aditya Roy Kapur and Ali Zafar also star, though how they figure exactly in Kaira's story has not been revealed. Nevertheless, it's complicated. With or without Aditya and Ali, ae dil hai mushkil. In the song Just Go To Hell Dil, Kaira's emotional angst bubbles over in a nightclub where she dances with joyless abandon.
Watch Alia Bhatt in Just Go To Hell Dil:
The antidote to this grim state of her affairs is provided by Shah Rukh Khan, whose character Jahangir or Jug is described as an 'unconventional thinker.' Jug's prescription for Kaira includes playing kabaddi with the sea and biking away when she falls off her cycle without stopping to help.
Watch Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi Take 1:
In Takes 2, 3 and 4, Jug recycles Kaira's jokes, is stumped by a question from her, and simplifies complex emotions.
Watch Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi Take 2:
Watch Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi Take 3:
Watch Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi Take 4:
Matters of the heart, always Bollywood's chief concern, formed the crux of Dear Zindagi co-producer Karan Johar's October release, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, starring Ranbir Kapoor with a love life more tangled than Kaira's but without Jug's remedies to give him perspective.
Dear Zindagi, director Gauri Shinde's second film after the acclaimed English Vinglish, releases this Friday.