The Bull Runs of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD)

The Bull Runs of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD)

Over a decade ago, just beneath our Calle Mercaderes apartment in Pamplona, Spain, we watched from our balcony as a group of men and cameramen filled the city for a day, putting up wooden barricades along the street and re-enacting the bull run, or encierro. The San Fermín festival for that year had just ended, so their red and white outfits felt starkly out of place. Do they know that there's no festival happening? I wondered. Should I tell them?

Soon, we called down from our balcony and found out who they were: Bollywood actors getting a few final shots for a movie about a road trip in Spain.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) was finally released in 2011, and it quickly became a cult classic Bollywood film cherished by audiences worldwide. The movie follows the journey of three friends as they travel through cities all across Spain, embracing adventure and overcoming fears along the way. At the end of the movie, they travel to Pamplona, Spain to experience Los sanfermines - a nine-day-long party more widely known around the world as the Running of the Bulls fiesta

When the three childhood friends arrive in Pamplona for the festival, they actually run with the bulls. After lining up in the Town Hall (the Plaza Consistorial), they run with the bulls down sunny Mercaderes street, before turning around the famous La Curva de Estafeta or "Dead Man's Corner" and then running together, side by side, down Calle Estafeta. It's an action-packed scene that 

So, is the movie accurate? Mostly, yes! The movie does a great job capturing the energy of the actual bull run in Pamplona. The film includes real footage of the bull runs spliced with a few CGI shots and close-up scenes shot after the actual runs. In fact, I'm actually featured on my balcony, watching the bull run, in one of the scenes! In real life, runners actually wear red and white - just like in the movie - and, if they're lucky, they can actually run "on the horns" of the bulls just like Arjun, Kabir, and Imran. 

It's not completely accurate, though. In real life, there are only a total of six bulls and six steers that run each morning in Pamplona: the movie features far more bulls than you would ever actually see! Also, realistically, there's no way that the three men could have kept up with the speed of the bulls for as long as they do in the movie - expert runners would be lucky to run even 15 seconds next to or in front of the bulls. Finally, in one shot filmed after the actual bull runs, the movie features bulls that are much smaller than the bulls you would actually see in the Pamplona. In fact, that shot features small, black cows with horns called vaquillas - although they look like bulls, they aren't actually bulls at all! 

Despite a few inaccuracies, we love this movie for the way it depicts the colorful culture of Spain and the way it represents the city of Pamplona during its San Fermín festival. If you'd like to experience Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in real life - without actual putting your life on the line like Arjun, Kabir, and Imran do - book a balcony to watch the bull runs from just above the action.

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