Zara Si Zindagi (English: A Slice of Life) is a 1983 Indian Hindi-language film directed by K. Balachander, starring Kamal Haasan, Anita Raj, Nilu Phule, Mazhar Khan, Shriram Lagoo and Karan Razdan.
It is the remake of the Tamil film Varumayin Niram Sivappu (1980) which was simultaneously shot in Telugu as Aakali Rajyam (1981), directed by Balachander himself. Zara Si Zindagi's story was written by Balachander while the dialogues were written by Gulzar.
Rakesh (Kamal Haasan), a young M.A. in philosophy comes to Delhi from Bihar looking for a job. Rakesh along with his friend Amit of Bengal (Karan Razdan) lives in a slum. One day Amit’s friend Tilak from Punjab (Arjun Chakraborty) goes to that dilapidated cottage for staying where Rakesh and Amit reside. The three men share everything that they get to eat and starve for food on most days. Rakesh sudden on a day sees a girl named Kusum (Anita Raj) where he finds her in a bus stop waiting for the next bus towards railway station, Rakesh offers her to carry the luggage of her till railway station as bus-service is closed and taxi-drivers are on strikes on that day. On reaching the railway station, Kusum pays Rakesh to which he replies that he has no change. She rebukes him in Punjabi language assuming he does not speak the language that he is trying to cheat her. Rakesh tells her that he knows Punjabi.
Rakesh once chases a man (Nilu Phule) to his house to get back the 15 rupees which he looted from him by lying. The man enters a house, Rakesh follows him by running after him and reaches till that house and Kusum opens the door after knocking. Rakesh comes to know that the man is Kusum’s father. Rakesh tells about the money and Kusum returns the money to Rakesh. Kusum is a small-time stage actress. Kusum goes to Rakesh's house to introduce him to her stage play director to replace an ill actor so that he could earn some money as she came to know that Rakesh is an unemployed man. Kusum introduces Rakesh to her stage-director Pratap (Mazhar Khan) who is arrogant and short-tempered. Pratap has an obsession for Kusum. Pratap can’t tolerate intimation between Rakesh and Kusum. Pratap throws out Rakesh from stage drama acting because of disobeying him. Rakesh does not take the post of a clerk of a company after misbehaving with interview-takers and tears his certificates of educational qualifications.
Amit somehow earns money which he did so by the advice of friend of him named Dilip. Tilak wants to know who the Dilip is. He ran away from home in search of that person. Jaggu (Kusum’s father) abandons from their home and doesn’t return for so many days. Kusum comes to Rakesh’s house with her bag and baggage for living as her father’s information is not known that where he has gone. Kusum gets a new job of baby-sitting but gets fired quickly for losing the baby while buying a toy as she kept the baby in baby-stroller outside the toy shop. Actually the baby has been kidnapped by Amit, Amit fetches the baby to Rakesh and tells that their days of hardship and starving are over because he will demand ransom from that baby’s parents. Kusum notices that the baby was that baby for whom she was doing the baby-sitting job. Kusum takes the baby from Amit and goes to its parents' house to return it. Rakesh beats Amit and asks him that who is Dilip. Amit replies that there is no one named Dilip, his own negative mentality is Dilip. Rakesh throws him out of the house and warns not to come again.
Kusum loves Rakesh, she tells this to a dumb artist Arun (Arun Bakshi), a man whom both Rakesh and Kusum first met in a park.
Once Pratap tries to strangle Kusum in a stage play, later at night Pratap comes to Kusum's house and apologizes to her, Pratap tells her that he wants to marry her. Kusum agrees to marry to Pratap in a condition and the condition is Rakesh will have to be provided a job by Pratap’s father industrialist Mohanlal Sharma (Ram Mohan). Rakesh does not take the job as he comes to know that Pratap is Mohanlal’s son and Mohanlal tells that Kusum is his son’s girlfriend. Pratap threatens to commit suicide if Kusum does not want to marry him. Kusum agrees but later sees Rakesh singing in a park while on a drive with Pratap, she gets down from the car and tells Rakesh that she will abide by whatever he wants, meanwhile Pratap leaves that place angrily and starts driving his car not taking Kusum.
Amit is now a husband of a rich woman and Tilak has turned into a mad beggar. The film ends with Rakesh and Kusum hugging in the park. Pratap gives the neck-chain bought by himself for marriage with Kusum to a street-beggar as alms in hot temperament.Kamal Haasan as Rakesh Kumar Shastri
Anita Raj as Kusum
Nilu Phule as Jaggu (Kusum's father)
Mazhar Khan as Pratap
Shreeram Lagoo as Mr. Shastri (father of Rakesh)
Sulochana Latkar as Mrs. Shastri
Karan Razdan as Amit
Arjun Chakraborty as Tilak
Arun Bakshi as Arun (the dumb artist)
Ram Mohan as Mohanlal Sharma (Pratap's father)
The soundtrack of this film was composed by Lakshmikant-Pyarelal and the lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi.