in her audition, "Here's to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. Here's to the hearts that ache, here's to the mess we make." The much-loved film tells the story of two dreamers. All the time while watching La La Land, I was constantly reminded of Zoya Akhtar's exceptionally brilliant Luck By Chance, which in many ways, is quite similar to La La Land.
Udein, khule aasaman mein khwabon ke parindey,
Udein, dil ke jahaan main khaabon ke parinday,
Ohho, kya pata, jaayenge kahaan,
Khule hain jo par, kahe yeh nazar,
Lagta hai ab hain jaage hum,
Fikrein jo thi, peechhe reh gayi.
At some other point in the film, Kabir asks his fiancée Natasha that why does she plan to quit her job after their wedding. It was her dream and she should continue to work on that. Natasha replies that dreams change and priorities change. This scene has stuck with me, where I have often wondered if dreams change. As Sebastian says in La La Land, perhaps, we grow up and we want different things at different points in life. In the film's end credits, Sooraj Ki Baahon Mein plays, where again this dream theme comes up. Naye naye sapne jo bunn sake, usi zindagi ko kaho zindagi. In which I can weave new dreams, I’ll only call that life, a real one.
In Bombay Talkies, Zoya directed the segment called Sheila Ki Jawaani. The story is about a child Vicky (Naman Jain) who wants to become a dancer when he grows up. His strict father does not approve his son embracing his feminine side. His father enrolls him in a football coaching class, but Vicky struggles to get even the smallest basics of football correct. His family goes to watch Tees Maar Khan, and when the song Shiela Ki Jawaani plays on the screen, Vicky is thrilled. It was as if he finally found that he wants to be. At a later point, Vicky watches a TV show where Katrina Kaif is being interviewed. On being asked her reason for success, she says she just followed her dream. At that instant, Vicky imagines that she is a fairy, who is talking to him directly. She is his Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Katrina tells him that it is important to preserve one's dreams and for that he might even have to lie. She says to Vicky, "Kabhi kabhi apne dream ko chhupana padta hai. People always don’t understand you, so they will discourage you. Lekin tumhe to pata hai na, tumhara sapna kya hai, toh uska khayal bhi tumhe rakhna padega. You have to nurture it. You have to protect it aur vaise bhi zaroorai nahi hai ki har baat, har waqt doosron ko batayi jayi. Har baat batane ka ek sahi waqt hota hai. Jaante ho tum jo chaho kar sakte ho, jo chaho ban sakte ho. Follow your heart for there is magic in your dreams. If you believe them, they will come true. Bas yakeen karo ki aisa hoga aur tumhe koi nahi rok sakta." Here, also, there is the theme of dreams. Katrina becomes a guardian angel for Vicky. She provides the anchor to the boat of Vicky's dreams. Katrina was like Laila from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, advising Vicky like Laila taught Arjun the meaning of life.
Dil Dhadakne Do tells the story of the dysfunctional Mehra family. Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shah) is a homemaker married to Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor), a self-made businessman. They have two children—Ayesha and Kabir. Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) runs her own company and Kabir (Ranveer Singh) works with his father in their family business. Kabir dreams of becoming a pilot; however, his family wants him to run their firm. He does not fully get business, and feels that he does not belong there. On a cruise, he meets Farah (Anushka Sharma). Farah is a dancer. Like Sona from Luck By Chance, Farah ran away from her home because her conservative family did not want her to become a dancer. But it was her dream to be one, so, she left them. Kabir is taken aback by the fearlessness of Farah to follow her dreams. He never thought of rebelling, but only after meeting Farah, he gets the courage to talk to his parents that he wants to do something in the field of flying. In addition, there is a line in the film's title song, "Hum toh yehi samjhayenge usey, sapne jo hai sajaane thode se bano diwaane." We’ll only say to him, that if you want to fulfill your dreams, be a bit crazy.
Thus, there is a theme related to dreams in all her films. In some earlier posts, I had written on the motif of flowers in the films of Zoya Akhtar. Almost every scene in Luck By Chance had a flower, and this flower pattern was seen in Bombay Talkies and Dil Dhadakne Do, too. There is also a theme of liberation and repression in her films. Interestingly, her next directorial venture is Gully Boy, which seems to be based on the lives of street rappers from Mumbai's chawls and ghettos. Given the subject matter, it is very likely that even Gully Boy will have a theme related to dreams as well.