About the story: Software engineer Balajeet Roy (Sanjay Dutt) has all he can wish for: a good job in Bangkok, his wife Nisha (Celina Jaitley) he’s been happily married to for one year now, and his relyable childhood friend Joy Fernandez (Mahesh Manjrekar). But then within one second nothing is as it was before: Bala disappears out of Nisha’s life without a trace. No one has a clue that he is kept imprisoned in a dark cell with a TV as his only contact to the world outside. By TV news Bala also comes to know that Nisha was murdered and that he is believed to be the murderer. For fourteen years Bala thus lives in complete isolation without knowing who is holding him captive and why. Then, one day, he suddenly is free again. With the help of taxi driver Jenny Singh (Lara Dutta) Bala starts looking for answers to his questions of who and why. The track leads him to a man named Rohit Chopra (John Abraham) – and soon enough Bala has to realize that even in freedom he still is a prisoner and that his nightmare is far away from ending...
Theatre, so once Aristotle wrote, shall have a catharsic, that means purifying effect on the audience. If this is also valid for the actors themselves, then Zinda must have had an enormous potential for Sanjay Dutt. Solely the memory of his scenes in his cell makes me shiver and I just wonder wherefrom he took the strength to do these scenes as they must have been a gruesome déjà vu for his psyche, a bitter memory of his months in solitary confinement where he also was all alone and did not know how long he would be kept imprisoned. Like such dark times in a cell, Sanjay also knows exactly that you can be free and nevertheless prisoner like Bala – after all, his life has been ruled and regulated by bail provisions since 1995, and even Bala’s longing for family members forcefully taken away from him is something Sanjay unfortunately knows all too well.
However, Sanjay underwent this catharsis to the highest degree voluntarily as Zinda, as a White Feather Film, is his home production, directed by his friend and partner Sanjay Gupta and "in loving memory of Dutt sahab" commemorating his father Sunil Dutt. Mahesh Manjrekar, director with actor roots and almost a kind of lucky mascot for Sanju’s production house after having played a role in every White Feather Film up till then, was even in Zinda in the role of Joy Fernandez a good support for Sanjay. Lara Dutta is convincing, and the scene in which Bala for the first time since fourteen years is meted out a loving touch again by Jenny, is shot similarly decently and tastefully as its equivalent in Shabd. The other actors don’t have very much to do – except, of course, Sanjay’s main opponent: John Abraham plays with very strong presence and intensity which makes especially his scenes with Sanjay, when the two of them fight out emotionally thrilling duels, to highlights of the film. When rediff writes in its review, "Dutt shines in Zinda", then it should rightfully be added, "And Abraham sparkles". A terrific performance – by both of them.
For me, Zinda is a very powerful film – dark, cold (not least for the full use of blue filter), intensely going under your skin and up to a certain degree even suspense-packed. Of course, several scenes are strong stuff, and I’m talking not only about the psychically but also about the physically demanding scenes – I don’t want to give away details, the warning will do that a lot of blood is shed and that not every body makes ends meet safe and sound. The hatred Rohit and, after his torture of fourteen years, even Bala are driven by, leaves no space for mercy. Calmness as a surprising and pleasant contrast is created rather by the music which this time remains more in the background and thus adds an inner strain to the film. Zinda surely is not perfect, it has its weak points, but the thrilling plot and the two excellent leading actors are reason enough for a recommendation. Provided that you are not attuned to two hours of relaxing candyfloss entertainment.
Produced and directed by Sanjay Gupta
114 Min.; DVD: Eros, English Subtitles (including songs); the DVD also contains two music videos ("Zinda Hoon Main" and "Yeh Hai Meri Kahani") featuring Sanjay and an interview with Lara Dutta about Zinda.