It’s always a great enriching experience to be pleasantly surprised by a film, you expected to be one of those hazily made products coming from the famous production house targeting the enthusiastic youngsters. So admitting the mistake, KAPOOR & SONS is not a film many of us were expecting it to be. Instead its quite unusual or different product coming from ‘Dharma Productions’ breaking their own set patterns of the past, that ideally needs to be considered as a big positive news not only for the viewers but for the industry itself heading towards a brighter future.
To give you a clear picture (which might surprise many), though KAPOOR & SONS has been widely publicized as a romantic comedy featuring current three heartthrobs of the nation (& the neighbours too), the film is neither a love triangle nor its entirely about these three characters alone to be exact. In fact its quite heartening to reveal that here we have got a film that doesn’t care about the fans or status of its three leading stars and thankfully keeps focusing on its well written script that actually talks about the family as a whole justifying its given title.
So without disclosing anything about its exact storyline in this first part of the review (without any spoilers), I would like to call KAPOOR & SONS a film with Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah and Rajat Kapoor as its three leadings stars instead of Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra. And to be honest, that’s really something exceptional coming from Dharma Productions & Karan Johar as mentioned before.
The film right away begins on a mature note without taking any help of the usual gimmickry and within the next 15 minutes one feels as if it’s his own family being depicted on the screen in some way or the other. The first gem of a scene is the one revolving around a local plumber working in the quarrelsome house and the second introduces Rishi Kapoor as a fun loving, flirty old man in his 90th year of life, who keeps practicing his moment of death with a lot of creative variation. In short, first the plumber and then the dirty old man simply wins your heart in these few opening scenes and you are all set to witness an entertaining family drama along with Ratna & Rajat playing the authentic elderly couple so effortlessly.
Next, the three young charmers Alia, Fawad and Sidharth bring in the much publicized song and romance on the screen. But its from here onwards, that the film falls down to the same old routine level, largely saved by the catchy & superbly choreographed song ‘Chull’ and the immensely likable, bubbly act by Alia Bhatt, once again playing a young lonely girl with a sad past. So in the first half, despite having a predictable romantic theme, KAPOOR & SONS successfully manages to keep you engaged through many entertaining sequences and all enjoyable performances led by the veteran Rishi Kapoor.
However it’s the film’s second half that actually turns it into an even better watch introducing many unexpected emotional twists moving far ahead than any usual love triangle or a repetitive fair. Plus, it’s this final hour of the film where both Ratna and Rajat emerge as the actual lead couple defeating everyone else in the team hands down. Personally I loved the concluding half of KAPOOR & SONS even more, as after a long time it was good to see a mainstream Hindi film talking about sadness and sorrow too as an essential part of our life making it highly realistic and relatable. In other words, this is not a film stressing only on the brighter side of the coin hiding the darker one. This is a film that ends on a much mature, convincing note than its impressive beginning and makes you face the harsh realities of life wherein things do go horribly wrong at times leading to more serious complexities.
But before moving on to the exclusive part of the write up talking about life itself, let’s talk about other aspects of the film beginning with its performances.
As mentioned before KAPOOR & SONS entirely belongs to Rishi, Ratna and Rajat followed by Fawad, Alia and Sidharth in this specific order. Rishi Kapoor in an almost unrecognizable getup brings the house down in his each and every scene right till the end and serves as the lifeline of the film unarguably. However I did feel he was not able to deliver those probable facial expressions due to the heavy prosthetics reminding you of a few Kamal Hassan films like HUNDUSTANI & DASHAVATAR. But then, it was indeed a real treat watching him playing with the ‘I-Papad’ and the card-board image of Mandakini connecting with his father’s last hit as well as controversial film released in the 80s, RAM TERI GANGA MAILI.
Other than Rishi, the two people who keep asking for your constant attention & praise due to their truly outstanding acts are Ratna Pathak Shah and Rajat Kapoor. If truth be told KAPOOR & SONS actually belongs to these two alone and I hope we soon get to see an intense emotional drama featuring the couple again.
Among the youngsters, though Fawad doesn’t come up with anything exceptionally new but he still takes a lead from the other two and is quite believable in his emotional outburst scenes with Ratna. Alia in a ‘long cameo’ kind of performance provides the much required relief and positivity into the narration playing yet again a girl with a tragic past. But you simply love her emoting on the screen owing every scene of hers with an amazing ease. Completing the (wrongly promoted) triangle, Sidharth is fine but he certainly doesn’t suit the part of a novelist. He tries hard playing the angry, ignored child of the family and his act can honestly be rated as just decent, unable to rise above his earlier films getting some good support from an impressive natural actor Sukant playing his friend Wasim.
In the technical department KAPOOR & SONS has an enjoyable cinematography and apt background score enhancing the emotional drama. But I did feel the editing bringing in everything so quickly without allowing any breathing space as such. May be that has become the pattern of today’s mainstream Hindi films, not allowing any kind of good stay on the heartfelt emotional scenes talking about sorrow or sadness.
Anyway the biggest letdown in the film is its soundtrack offering only one enjoyable song and that too a borrowed one, a Fazilpuria-Badshah track released a couple of years back in 2014 with its own lavish video that can be seen here (link). Actually as an intense emotional drama, here we desperately needed a couple of tracks that could easily bring tears in your eyes watching the touching visuals. But sadly, there is nothing of that sort offered in its below average soundtrack resulting in a much less impact of the film’s final 30 minutes in particular.
Having said that, KAPOOR & SONS still remains an absorbing, well-crafted and multi-layered film from director Shakun Batra, made on a highly realistic script penned by Ayesha Dhillon, that strongly reminds you of films by Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sircar together, painting a similar real life scenario on screen (including the ‘potty’ sequences).
Supporting the above statement, here are few interesting observations made while watching the film, relating to its proceedings on a more personal level. (Spoilers Ahead)
1. It was indeed quite a relief to see a Bollywood film revolving around a big Punjabi family, but not interested in presenting the same in a typically comic or familiar manner as usual. (Hope it conveys the message precisely)
2. Post Chetan Bhagat, novel writers/authors are now being portrayed as achievers in our Hindi films. Earlier they used to be poor creative artists or strugglers.
3. How can a Karan Johar production be made without a Gay character? So fulfilling the requirement you have one in KAPOOR & SONS too and he is none other than Fawad Khan (that is sure to disturb the girls). However I strongly felt this was not required, because even if Fawad was shown already married and on the verge of divorce (without any information given to the family), then that would have also served the purpose equally well. Thankfully, this time they do not exploit them as those typical comic characters seen in KJo's earlier films.
4. Focusing on the flirty character of a 90 years old grandfather, who keeps practicing death in the entire film, I loved the fact that he actually never dies in the film right till the end.
5. With enjoyable mentions of ‘Sugar-Coated Cigarettes’ and more, I am sure if one meets a girl like Alia in real life, who lives alone with such a carefree nature and open-hearted life-style, then he is bound to think on a different line altogether. In reality that’s the kind of conservative mindsets we live in, where the boys are considered to be some spirited, fun loving creatures if they have a similar persona, but not girls who are always taken otherwise denying any kind of equal liberty or playful nature.
Coming to the exclusive and most emotional part of the write-up, I would like to share what stayed in my mind for long after watching the film, thinking about the term called ‘The Family’.
Accepting an evident truth of today’s monetary world, almost every family can easily be termed as ‘a dysfunctional family’ wherein those perfectly smiling faces standing close to each other can only be found in the ‘family group photographs’ stored in various albums or countless hard disc folders. We all have our own share of mutual differences or disagreements, but we gradually learn to live with them without causing any further cracks in the relationships as required.
At times certain unexpected events do happen in a family for which we cannot afford to hold personal grudges for years. So it’s better to forget about them instead of nourishing the hatred forever. Accepting the other as it is forgiving and forgetting the past is the best way to define the term FAMILY. But that essentially needs to be done well in time, before the other person takes his or her final leave as shown in the film in both the cases of Alia and Ratna suffering as the lonely survivors.
Secondly, one brilliant scene in the film, forced me to think about the emotionally shattering state of that one lady of the house who has only two relations left to live with in her present life. The lady is the wife of an aging husband having no work of his own and the mother of a young successful writer living far away from her in a foreign land. Now considering these are the only two males her whole life revolves around, just imagine a situation, when the lady finds out that both of them were lying to her from the last couple of years hiding their individual relationships or love affairs.
For a moment just try to visualise the crumbling world of that old soul, who one fine day finds out that her (50+) husband was having an extra-marital affair and her (25+) son never found it important enough to share his gay identity and a male-relationship abroad, leaving her all alone in this world shattering the years old trust with no shoulder left to cry upon. The only two pillars of her life collapse with these unexpected cruel betrayals in just a few hours and there is no one around with whom she can share her inner self or the dangerous suicidal tendencies coming naturally.
No doubt it would require a woman’s heart to understand the immense, intolerable pain behind this shocking disclosure but honestly I could somehow feel the trauma when Ratna half-heatedly says “Dono Jhoothey……..!” in a scene and walks away.
I don’t know whether you will be able to relate to this scary situation or not but for me this was the best moment of the film that somehow got stuck in my memory thinking about its resulting scars on the poor woman’s remaining years of life to be lived with a deafening silence.
In all, KAPOOR & SONS is a more than decent film that could have easily become a perfect one with a ‘much required’ soulful soundtrack bringing tears to our eyes. It might partially disappoint the die-hard fans of Alia Bhatt & Fawad Khan for the less attention given to their favourite stars and may not appeal to the ones who are not willing to watch sadness on the screen following a different kind of ‘false’ cinema to be enjoyed in the multiplexes.
But for the rest, it’s certainly going to be an emotionally entertaining watch giving the return of their money spent. So do go for it and have a good time with the KAPOOR family headed by a dirty old man with his ‘I-Papad’.
Ratings : 3.5 / 5 (with an additional brownie points just for Ratna and Rajat together)