'Yeh Saali Zindagi' is the kind of outing that makes you believe that Bollywood indeed has some folks out there who are trying to do things differently when it comes to making films and yet ensuring that commercial elements are well integrated into the storytelling. Also, it is the kind of film that deserves a watch in a theatre because of the sheer experience of enjoying it with a crowd rather than in isolation.
For Irrfan Khan, it was a one sided love story that made him give his all for Chitrangda Singh. At her end though she was unsure about what she actually wanted in her love. And between the two of them there is a small time gangster (Arunoday Singh), a money launderer (Saurabh Shukla), a cop (Sushant Singh), a businessman's son (Vipul Gupta), and a couple of gangster brothers (Yashpal Sharma, Prashant Narayanan). A kidnapping takes place, a deal happens, loyalties change, money exchanges hands, bullets are fired while only one thing remains constant - Irrfan's love for Chitrangda.
One has to be awake, actually wide awake, while watching 'Yeh Saali Zindagi'. There is not a single instance where one can bat an eyelid, check an SMS or take a break of even a single minute. Also, despite clear elements of 'love', 'sex' and 'dhokha' here, the film retains it's humour and this is where it's strength lies. Not to mention some terrific music by Nishat Khan that not just merely plays in the background but also aids the narrative in a big way, hence resulting in number of situations that turn out to be euphoric.
Any weaknesses? Well, in the middle portion of the second half, there is some slackness that sets in. The entire kidnapping episode becomes a tad too long and one starts getting impatient to know more about what would unfold next. Nevertheless, the moment Irrfan returns on scene, things start moving again and that too on a frantic pace.
A word of cautiuon here - The language and dialogues here have the entire flowery vocabulary that one associates with the North of India. While this obviously brings in humour, it isn't there just for the sake of it. Instead it does sound natural to the core which further justifies the conviction that Sudhir Mishra had during his story telling.
Resultantly, there are number of moments in the film where there are not just claps but mighty roars in auditorium as well. The initial scene where Irrfan is hanging down his balcony, Arunoday's reunion with his wife and the kiss that follows in an auto rickshaw, Saurabh Shukla's constant ridiculing of Irrfan for his love, the interval point where Irrfan tracks Chitranga, the first interaction between Irrfan and Arunoday and then of course the bullet sequence when Irrfan is hit - all of this and more are hugely entertaining scenes that bring the house down.
Irrfan carries the film on his shoulders and is severely missed whenever he is away from scene. In fact Saurabh Shukla comes up with an ace performance as well in each of the scenes he is with Irrfan. Arunoday gets a meaty role for himself and does quite well. Chitrangda has a pivotal role and proves yet again that why she should be working more often. Sushant Singh, who has always delivered, doesn't fail either and is a riot, especially in his last scene. Aditi Rao Hydari, as Arunoday's wife, looks very beautiful and acts ably too while Vipin Sharma shows a different facet of his acting skills by playing a gangster.
For the audience which has been cheering for Guy Ritchie cinema for so many years now, this is the time for them to acknowledge in unison that Sudhir Mishra has it in him to make cinema that matches international standards and tells a story in a similar narrative. He keeps 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' entertaining and original, hence making it join the must list of those who love to watch adult massy entertainers. In a year where anyways films across multiple genres are releasing and succeeding, 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' is all set to be a definite addition.