Film: "Life Mein Kabhie Kabhiee"; Starring: Dino Morea, Aftab Shivdasani, Sammir Dattani, Anjori Alagh, Nauheed Cyrusi, Annuj Sawhnney, Koel Puri; Directed by: Vikram Bhatt; Rating: ***
Vikram Bhatt's best-scripted work to date is about the dreams and ambitions of the very young, and not so young.
Dreams die hard in "Life Mein Kabhie Kabhiee" (LMKK). As they fall with a thud to the ground, Vikram Bhatt, displaying a sensitivity seldom on evidence in his films, catches the tears and laughter and splashes them in this film about five friends and their scattered shattered dreams.
The film moves into various strands. Manoj Tyagi's screenplay weaves in and out these warm lived-in lives with a dextrous flourish.
Like many of Bhatt's works LMKK is suffused with characters. Miraculously they all seem to have a life even when Pravin Bhatt's camera isn't looking. Bhatt gives each of the five protagonists a reverberant existence that takes them beyond the stylised sets and clichéd locations, (does a film on the young have to have happy songs on the beach and the pub?) sometimes straight into our hearts, sometimes a little higher.
Even a seemingly minor sequence tends to take the narrative above the routine. Watch the sequence in the mall where Raj Zutsi's first wife runs into his new play thing. "I can see from the shopping bags how happy you are," says the first wife to the second.
Girish Dhamija's outstanding dialogues reveal the continuity of the state of mind known as unhappiness.
Every character hurls towards his or her imagined happiness. But is finally looking into a yawning inertia echoing what Milan Kundera described as the unbearable lightness of being.
There's Rajeev (Dino Morea), who breaks away from his strait-laced entrepreneur-brother (Mohnish Behl) to pave his own tortuous path to success. Mona (Nauheed Cyrusi) takes the easy route to stardom - the casting couch with a caddish leading man (Rajat Bedi), while the loving supportive boyfriend (Annnuj Swahney, as dependable as a character as he's as an actor) languishes at home.
Then there's Ishita (Anjori Alagh) who marries money (Raj Zutsi) only to look straight into the eyes of desolation.
And yes, there is Jai (Sammir Dattani) the troubled, tormented guilt-stricken politician trying to find his way out of the dark deep tunnel of self-recrimination.
Shivdasani doing his cute eye-rolling wide-eyed goofy-grin act, is the one who holds the laughter in place in this aromatic ode to the scowl of life.
The plot seems outwardly a mass of unmanageable ideas. Thanks to some deftly-written scenes dotted with dialogues that make you sit up and listen, this segmented, sighing, sobbing giggling chirrup of chain reactions comes together with a sun 'n' shade virtuosity.
Yes, technically the film needed a hand-up. Often the project's modest undertaking clearly shows up in the sets. Also Pravin Bhatt's cinematography is unable to create an even uni-view into the lives and loves of the characters.
Barring a few performers (Sammir's psychiatrist is a laugh, and so is Dino's love-interest), the quality of acting conceals the technical leaps. From the tried and tested Raj Zutsi and Mohnish Behl to their contemporary counterparts like Dino Morea and Aftab Shivdasani, everyone gets into the skin of things. Newcomer Anjori Alagh has a complex gold-digger's part. She is able. On the other hand Nauheed Cyrusi looks as lost on the casting couch as she does off it.
But it's Sammir Dattani playing what could be interpreted as a modern-day version of Sunny Deol in Rahul Rawail's "Arjun" blossoms into an intense and watch-able actor.
This should've been Sammir's debut film. But even if it isn't, that's okay. At last he got here.
That's what "Life Mein..." tells us. Don't create a labyrinth of regrets in your life. Live in the moment. But don't fritter away the echoes of eternity that carry human aspirations from here to eternity.