Film, Hindi, Review

Kai Po Che!

Ahmedabad is not the default choice for mainstream Bollywood films, but the city owes director Abhishek Kapoor for not only putting it on the film map, but also making it look lovely. Which is not surprising, because he’s managed to infuse a lyrical quality in pretty much every aspect of the film. There’s poetry in the camaraderie between the three friends (Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao, Amit Sadh), in the richly hued and detailed scenes, and in the fluid screenplay that effortlessly builds up a fairly basic story idea to a powerful ending.

As an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life, the screenplay writers have taken liberties with key plot points, characters, and in focusing on the friendship far more than anything else. So key events like the Bhuj earthquake and the 2002 riots are used purely as plot points to reflect on the changing relationships between the three friends.

That is then the heart and soul of the film, and, thanks to very fine performances from the three lead actors, a lifting music score, and beautifully cinematography, the director effortlessly makes the film work. The screenplay is possibly one of the best in recent times. When you see Ali cover drive his debut ball for a four, it’s the entire film’s emotion rolled into that shot, and it’s remarkable. For a film that’s high on emotions, there’s actually very little on display; the film never explicitly tries to make you laugh or cry. Subtly but crisply constructed, the writing is top class, thoroughly proving that Rock On! was no flash in the pan.

The film is shot in Gujarat, and lends authenticity to the narrative. Art direction is extremely well detailed, keeping in mind the time and the place the film is set in. The dialogue falls of a little bit when trying to make the characters be Gujarati, because they very clearly are not and neither do they try to be. It’s only Rajkummar Rao who truly sounds in character, with a trace of the famed Gujarati accent consistently in his diction. Special mention must be made of the cinematography, which makes the film a visually sumptuous event to behold.

What keeps Kai Po Che! from being a great film is that it’s also a very ‘safe’ film. This is by choice, of course, because the director has a very clear vision of what the film should be, and he succeeds completely in fulfilling in this. But there is not much in the film that pushes boundaries, that tries something different. Both in it’s content and its treatment, the film is textbook perfect, and hence also limited by it’s own aspiration. This is not criticism, but so good is the film that it does make you want more from it.

Devoid of cliches, stars, and songs, Kai Po Che! easily stands as one of the most refreshing Indian films in recent times.


Hindi, Drama, Color

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