‘Let me tell you about the very rich,’ wrote F Scott Fitzgerald, ‘They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.’
Writing or making a movie about the rich doesn’t necessarily make the content superficial. ZNMD is about three wealthy urban professionals on a road holiday in Spain, but what we should look for is truthfulness and beauty in the friendships and cultures that the film sets out to examine.
Zoya Akhtar has made a striking movie about conversations, and about how words—in Hindi, English or Spanish—can hurt or heal, depending on their context and application. A spat between Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) and Imran (Farhan Akhtar) leads to the revelation that Imran had once stolen Arjun’s girlfriend. It was in the past and meaningless, insists Imran, and, in any case, he had apologised several times over.
Much later in the film, when Imran finally meets his biological father, Salman (Naseeruddin Shah), and asks him why he had never come to India to see him, Salman says that his relationship with Imran’s mother was in the past and meaninglessness, and when he sees his son in tears, apologises.
The way people speak in the film show how they are thinking and what they really are. Arjun and Imran notice that their friend Kabir (Abhay Deol) is not himself once his girlfriend Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) arrives. They bring this to his notice and it helps Kabir better understand the nature of his equation with her.
True, the issues are not profound. But Zoya’s felicity in weaving together picture, prose, music and poetry (Javed Akhtar), and then tying it all to Spanish tradition, is unique. ZNMD is why we go to the movies.