Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kapoor and Sons (Since 1921) Movie Review

Spoilers, spoilers everywhere... 
Shakun Batra, who was cast as a pappu in one of the most entertaining rom-coms in recent times Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na, in his directorial debut, Ek Mai Aur Ekk Tu, did something that no one would expect it from a “pappu”. He, quite bravely, subverted the very genre (casting the same lead actor). Interestingly, his film was produced by Karan Johar who is regarded as a trendsetter of that genre after his directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Batra now takes up on his producer’s other campy genre, family drama – which was Johar’s second film too -- and, surprise, surprise, he does it again!

Kapoor and Sons (Since 1921) – in its macroscopic view – is about coming together of the entire family in a single frame for that one happy picture that the family’s grand-old patriarch (Rishi Kapoor as Dadu) wants to take to his tomb. Take a closer look at the picture: at the extreme right stands Harsh Kapoor (Rajat Kapoor) who has been cheating on his wife Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah), standing next to him, who only suspects it; next to her stands her most loved kid Rahul (surprisingly good Fawad Khan) who has been lying about his sexuality to everyone in the family including her; and at the extreme left is Arjun (a not bad Siddharth Malhotra), the “other” son and novelist in the family, who thinks his own brother has stolen his story idea for his novel and is now eyeing on his love interest too (superb Alia as Tia), and has  an unstable career which his father is dismissive of. 

You can now tell that they actually can’t stand each other. It is a loop of problems. And they have found out all the lies about each other just before the photographer has to click the camera button. There is a hovering cloud, literally too, waiting to burst. It is a tensed situation, and Batra has made one delicious scene out of it. However, it’s not the first time that they were anticipating a water-burst over them. In an early introductory scene (equally delicious), the family is bickering about their problems – not confronting them. The plumber in the background somehow manages to fix the leaking pipe, and they manage to move on… like they have always had. 

Relook at their individual problems and they appear as convenient plot points with characters coming out of them. Whereas if you look at the other dysfunctional family drama from last year, Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, the conflicts and stories there come out of the characters. This is precisely the difference between a well-written drama and a well-written melodrama which is what this film is. However, the melodrama in Kapoor and Sons (Since 1921) is only in its writing, in the content, and not in the treatment. 

Look at the crucial revelation sequence – which involves parent and son entering each other’s bedrooms, literally and figuratively – each scene jumps from one to another, cutting the slack, revealing and interconnecting the plots, engrossing you into the silence of it so deeply that the only thing disturbing then is the background score. A melodramatic line like “Humara ab koi rishta nahi” does seep in a conversation but remains in tone. Even the resolution – an accident killing one of the family members – is a cliché and melodramatic, but doesn’t feel out of tone. After all, we were anticipating a death anyway – of Dadu whose heart attack and deathbed wishes are the reason of the family coming together at first place, and this is a film where tender moments between a young couple takes place in a… graveyard!

The intercuts form a consistent style in this film. In conversation scenes and even in long sequences. It formed an editing pattern in last year’s Piku too (another dysfunctional family drama), but it was too jarring there. Here it drives the narrative style, giving us a sense that a lot is going on. The intercuts between two scenes pre-interval is perhaps the most terrific bit of the film: a seemingly funny quibble between two old men over a card game going in the lawn, and a serious one, of which we have half idea, travels all the way from the kitchen, halts for a while in the drawing room, and finally spills over in the outside lawn. In between these, you also get the answer to why don’t they ever show hero/heroines in films doing daily activities like… going to potty?

1 comment:

The Guy Next Door said...

"most entertaining rom-coms in recent times Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na" ROFL !!!