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Kai Po Che! review: Theek che

Kai Po Che!
Abhishek Kapoor
Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh, Rajkumar Yadav, Amrita Puri
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This ought to become a genre in Bollywood now - the bromance film. Kai Po Che! is 2013's attempt. It's a good attempt, but not one that pushes the envelope any further.

The film trails the lives of three friends based in Gujarat. Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) makes some money giving tuitions but yearns to start a business; Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) is the hot-headed dude who can push a child when he's angry or even hurt his sister during a fight; Omi (Amit Sadh) is likeable and neutral, gets along with everyone and usually seconds Ishaan.

The three decide to open their own sports shop with a small training academy adjoining it. They borrow the deposit money from Omi's uncle, who heads the local wing of a Hindutva political party. The three start off, getting more ambitious and booking a space in a swanky under-construction mall. They again borrow from the uncle, and become even more indebted to him.

Then comes the earthquake of 2001 and their dreams shatter along with the mall they had pinned their hopes on. We also see the occurrence of the 2002 riots, in which the friends get embroiled.

Sadly, the film takes up several issues, but just skims the surface. That is most evident in the film's dealing with the riots, a slice of modern India's history that is at once shameful and horrific. The film doesn't delve into its depth, something that was required even if the event was just a backdrop.

That's true of the characters as well - we don't get to know them beyond a limit. We can only identify with and cheer for their goals, not for the characters themselves. The only somewhat prominent female character in the film Vidya (Amrita Puri) is an air-headed, romance-fixated character, weak at maths and tutored by Govind.

In the book (The 3 Mistakes of My Life from which the film is adapted), this character has ambition and spirit, but in the film she's just the wishy-washy supportive girlfriend who's worried whether she'll get pregnant.

Director Abhishek Kapoor, who made the impressive Rock On!! and the not-so-impressive Aryan, whips up a film that's about love, friendship, blood relations, bonding, ambition, sports, and destiny. It's a nice mishmash of all the above, but such that none of the elements stand out.

Kapoor likes to show the three central characters as being somewhat superhuman. They climb out of running buses to sit on the roof, are strong enough (shots of bare, glistening bodies) to physically put up a sports academy on their own, like to jump off cliffs into the water. They also happily book an office space, the EMI of which they are clearly not equipped to pay.

Dialogue is conversational and contemporary, but with incongruous words like 'behtar' and lines like 'meetha khaoge' that are not in sync with the characters.

Now for the good stuff, and there's enough of that as well. The film has fine performances by the three lead actors. As the toughie with a marshmallow heart, Sushant Singh Rajput is marvellous. Amit Sadh matches step as the confused and easily influenced Omi.

Raj Kumar Yadav's performance is also striking, with his being the calm, responsible and logical voice in the group.

The film is technically impressive - flawless editing by Deepa Bhatia, cinematography by Anay Goswami, Amit Trivedi's music couple with Swanand Kirkire's lyrics, snazzy styling by Niharika Khan and superb production value.

The sweet nuances like the hyphenated 'Wel-Come' on their shop and the Gujarati seeping into their conversations are delightful.

The film has trended on social networks, clearly reaching its target audience. With such efficient marketing pushing the film, it's likely to do very well.

This writer isn't entirely convinced by what the film is trying to say, but recommends it for intermittent snatches of good storytelling, bravura performances and great music.

Rating: 3 stars


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