A dysfunctional family of parents (Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah) and their sons (Fawad Khan, Sidharth Malhotra) comes together when the family patriarch, the grandfather (Rishi Kapoor), has a heart attack. With each having their own axes to grind with one another and with old and new skeletons tumbling out of each one’s closets, of course, the shit hits the ceiling before a tragic accident makes them try to come to terms with each other.
First off, there’s enough that actually works well in director Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (since 1921). The ‘family’ film is largely well-written, the main roles are full-bodied, the dialogues convincing. The relationship and dynamics between each of the characters is well-worked out giving the film several nicely worked out scenes and some solid moments. It is also refreshing to see characters of today with shades to them of both strengths and weaknesses and what’s more, having critical issues to deal with. This greatly helps the narrative flow to give them each a proper character graph. In particular, Rishi Kapoor has a field day in the role of the ‘cool’ 90 year old grandfather who, while having fun, knows exactly what is happening around him. His role plays obviously to the gallery and he too plays it that way showing yet again what a fine actor he is, towering head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. This in spite of being weighed down by some heavy-duty distracting prosthetic make-up.
But and yes, there is a but that makes the film stop short of being there. The second half – when you know the various bubbling volcanoes are bound to erupt – is extremely heavy-handed. The dramatic confrontations often outstay their time while the supporting cast – the uncle’s family for instance – has little to do as they are barely fleshed out, making them all uniformly flat. Blithe spirit Alia Bhatt, too, is saddled with a sketchy role and a cliched back story that adds nothing, but manages to pass muster as thankfully, not too many demands are made on her as an actress. Batra, inter-cutting a mite too often between key sequences, reduces their impact and though their final results are there, the treatment leaves you dissatisfied. You also feel that perhaps the story needed more introspective time given to the characters while the Connoor locations could have been exploited far better.
Ratna Pathak Shah does go customarily over the top in some sequences but it has to be said, acquits herself pretty well in the key sequences towards the end. Rajat Kapoor is fine playing a cheating husband yet again while Fawad Khan adequately manages perhaps the more complex role of the elder brother who has to live with the burden of being perfect in everything he does. However, his big issue was seen coming miles earlier thereby making his track pretty predictable. Sidhart Malhotra as the younger sibling is earnest and easy going and even has the odd endearingly vulnerable moment but the big dramatic emotional scenes, where he lets out his angst at been given a raw deal, are frankly beyond him. It is one of the weaker performances in the film, even if one of his better ones.
The technicalities by and large support the film well. All in all, Kapoor & Sons (since 1921) has its moments with an easy going first half but a labored second half lets it down. Still, it is well worth a watch, which is something one cannot easily say about a lot of our films today.
Hindi, Drama, Color