Crying Along With ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’

How the beloved 2011 Bollywood movie turned a bachelor party into a sensitive portrayal of masculinity.

Sadaf Ahsan

July 15, 2022

Crying Along With ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’
(Zindagi Na Milegi Doabara)

The opening scene feels like the finale of a fairytale. A young couple, Kabir and Natasha, stand in a twinkling garden with a ring, and a question, between them. “Will you marry me?” Kabir (Abhay Deol) asks on bended knee. Yet Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) seems hesitant. “Why are you doing this?” she asks, to which he responds, “Because this is how it’s supposed to be.” 

With that, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) sets up the contradiction of expectations versus truth — including what happens on a bachelor trip. The film centers on the reunion of three school friends — Kabir, Imran (Farhan Akhtar), and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan, fresh off Guzaarish and in need of a comedy) — as they road trip through Spain before Kabir’s wedding. At the time of the film’s release, Bollywood road trip films were not unheard of — think a key segment in Dil Chahta Hai (2001), which Zindagi writers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti had both worked on as assistant directors, and Road, Movie (2009). But American-style bachelor parties, let alone bachelor trips, were a relatively new concept.

A few days before the trip, at Kabir and Natasha’s engagement party, a friend warns Natasha that “boys go crazy at bachelor parties. In fact, Nikhil still hasn’t told me what happened at his.” Meanwhile, the boys joke that hooking up with “bloody hot” girls is entirely understandable on your “last night as a bachelor.” While Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara begins much like other bachelor party films, the film offers a completely different narrative, as the men at this film’s center choose to swap masculinity for some refreshing vulnerability.