Movie Review - Yeh Saali Zindagi: Getting your head around the maze of director Sudhir Mishra’s Yeh Saali Zindagi could be quite an ask and task. Taking a plot bursting at its seams, Sudhir Mishra plonks in it so many characters, with many a voice-over and flashbacks, that keeping the count after a while becomes an exercise in maths. But, given the reputation of the director, you are willing to sit back, play along, and let the movie grow on you. And it does.
On the other hand Kuldeep (Arunoday Singh) is a criminal on his last assignment. Thanks to his feisty wife (Aditya Rao Hydari) who disapproves of his shady, deadly profession, he’s set to reform and start life afresh. But his last assignment embroils Shyam, Priti and Arun in a deadlock where each character’s love is tested against the grime and crime of Delhi’s underbelly.
A whole lot of oddballs are entangled in the ruck. There are gun-toting hardy criminals, corrupt cops and opportunistic politicians. At first the characters remain mostly isolated, like an assorted bunch in a puzzle that begins to make sense as each piece falls into its place. Yet, the overwrought and complex structure of the plot does challenge your grey cells.
The story-screen writing (Mishra and Manu Rishi) is one of the strengths of YSZ. The dialogues, liberally sprinkled with expletives of choicest variety, are witty gems that keep you amused throughout the frenetic pace of the story.
Another strength is the cast ensemble. Irrfan Khan comes up with the most winsome performance as the man who goes out of his way to help the woman he loves without his feelings being reciprocated. Chitrangada Singh is naturally glamorous and pitches in a fine performance. Arunoday Singh shines as the rowdy criminal trying to mend his ways for the sake of his wife and kid. His torrid, almost violent love story with Aditi Rao does prove a mild distraction in the plot but is quite finely etched. From the sidelines, Sushant Singh and Saurabh Shukla leave an impression.
More than anything, YSZ is a testimony of Mishra’s craftsmanship as a writer and director. With its many unpredictable twists and twirls and a climax that some might take with a pinch of salt, YSZ is a delightfully different film that attempts to break all set formulas and leave you with a smile on the face in the end.