So all right. You've been warned. You go to ZINDA expecting a film about violent responses to life's injustices. Sure enough, this fascinating flick-of-a-finger thriller is replete with graphic sequences of torture. But it isn't the physical stomach-churning violence (electric drills in the belly, teeth being plucked out with hammers) that holds your attention. It's the violence within. The violence and angst of a man wronged for what crimes? he doesn't know!
As the Kafkaesque hero trapped in a hellish existential imbroglio, Sanjay Dutt rips the screen apart. The lifelines on his face laugh at the very relevance of life. And yet the character he plays must live to find out why he was singled out for such inhuman isolation.
Sanjay Gupta has always been a master of existential dilemmas. His protagonist is always torn between the desire to assert his will and the inability to conform to given rules of civilized living.
Dutt's quest for self-justice in ZINDA is mired in violent conflicts. Yet at its heart this is an extremely emotional film about a man searching for his bearings in a world that has written off his life and dreams.
The films is photographed by Sanjay F. Gupta (not the director). A stylish spunky product of the rock-video generation of visual orgasms Gupta uses his chic lenses to capture Dutt's lacerated soul in stark close-ups.
"I don't want to come close to anyone because anything I love is lost to me," Dutt tells Lara in their longish bedroom encounter.
Kamlesh Pandey's acerbic lines, Sanjay Choudhary and Vishal-Shekhar's music fill large spaces of the snarled soundtrack, prodding the hero's fight for survival into positions of startling awakening.
The rest just flows in a furious combustive cascade of emotional and physical violence.