Film Review: 'Kapoor And Sons'
Opened: 18 March 2016
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt
Director: Shakun Batra
Producers: Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta
Marketed as just another humdrum love triangle, Kapoor & Sons is anything but. In fact, beneath its fluffy exterior lies a complex, layered, drama about a highly strung Punjabi family, each of whom are so refreshingly messed up, it re-instated my faith in our films. Suffice to say, it’s the most grown up and sensitive film to come out of the Dharma stable in a while, especially because it abolishes stereotypes to a large extent, and handles betrayals and infidelities in the most sensitive, subtle and undramatic fashion – a trait which Johar’s film’s have rarely ever been known for.
Set predominantly in the picturesque hill stations of Coonoor, Kapoor & Sons revolves around the Kapoors, obviously, (Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak Shah), and their two boys Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) and Rahul (Fawad Khan). Somewhat estranged, the family begrudgingly come together when they get wind of grandpa Kapoor’s failing health (Rishi Kapoor, a riot, and very clearly having a field day mocking the RK legacy in the form of Ram Teri Ganga Maili’s peek-a-boo waterfall scene, albeit with unnecessary prosthetics). Inevitably, their reunion goes awry when murky pasts and familial betrayals come to light, rupturing their already fragile relationships and subsequently, altering the course of their destinies permanently.
Kapoor & Sons takes its time to unravel, but once it does its characters, however flawed, disarm you, thanks to the sensitivity with which they've been written. The performances of the principal players are unanimously on point, but it is Fawad Khan who shines acing his layered, complex and troubled character with dignity and aplomb. It’s a tough, bold character to pull off but he does with a restraint and charm I have yet to witness in any recent performance by a leading man, by thankfully breaking a limp-wristed stereotype that’s hounded our films since the dawn of time. The best part? He does it in a mainstream production and not one that’s shrugged off as a festival or an art film, and that takes confidence and conviction, both of which Fawad seems to have by the bucket.
Close on his heels is Ratna Pathak Shah, as the disgruntled mother yearning to win her husband's affections and yet doing little to help her cause. Hers is a conflicted character, because she’s so desperately trying to maintain calm and sanity in an already chaotic household, and yet she's the very person that stirs a hornet's nest time and again. Rajat Kapoor perhaps has the smaller part of the two, but is charismatic and polished in even doses, though given his intentions in the film, he perhaps deserved a better character arc than it ultimately got. Bringing me nicely on to Alia Bhatt, who perhaps for the first time, doesn’t get as much substance in a Dharma film and has to watch from the sidelines. Hers is a character that is a catalyst in the proceedings and despite giving it the requisite sunshine, spunk, warmth, exuberance and charm in a way that only she can, her Tia definitely deserved a part that was better fleshed out. Still, her chemistry with Sidharth is warm and ‘just fits’ and their scenes have an easy charm about them – an observation that's often made about Sidharth, and that's the case this time round too. That dramatics may not be his forte, but in the scenes which require him to gaze longingly at the object of affection he does just fine. Not to mention, he’s still as easy on the eye as ever, so you’re bound to forgive any misgivings he may have in the histrionics department.
In addition to it’s absorbing performances there’s a lot that Shakun Batra’s gets right here. Be it the film’s cheeky lines, the peppy but sparingly used soundtrack, the sweet nostalgic nods to items of yore (cigarette sweets anyone?), the film’s engaging screenplay and beautifully shot frames or a number of expertly crafted scenes, there’s a lot to gorge on here.
My only grouse perhaps is the film’s length, and how it should have been trimmed by at least fifteen minutes. I mean, however much we care about the film’s characters, the penultimate scenes just get way too intense and a tad manipulative, and perhaps that's where it stumbles a little.
For all their idiosyncrasies though, The Kapoors and their Sons are definitely worth a cinema trip, if not for the film's numerous sensitive and poignant moments, then for the refreshing and inoffensive way in which it handles certain taboos, and kicks to the kerb, the view that mainstream heroes can’t play certain characters. A surprisingly charming little film – I’m going with a big fat four.