After feeding us on a heavy diet of romance, Bollywood filmmakers are now undoing our appetite for the mushy stuff, and veering us towards bromances. It did work, in the past, what with ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Dostana’ and ‘Rock On!!!’ all turning into blockbusters.
So, by that rule, one-hit-movie-old director Abhishek Kapoor’s tale about brotherhood isn’t unusually novel, considering his ‘Rock On!!!’ explored the same dynamics. Yet, there’s something uniquely endearing and extremely poignant about ‘Kai Po Che’.
And, like others in this inimitable genre, this too shall win innumerable accolades. Whether it’s the captivating performances, the ambitious narrative, or poetic cinematography, ‘Kai Po Che’ is superior in texture and commendably subtle.
It also packs in all the ingredients of a sure-shot Bollywood success, without overplaying any one element. There’s cricket, religion, politics, comedy, music, bromance and even a dash of romance.
Abhishek’s adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s part-fictional, part-historical book titled ‘The 3 Mistakes of My Life’ is imposing no doubt, but, it’s his ingenious trait to alter the end, without sacrificing its spirit, that deserves immense applause.
‘Kai Po Che’ delves into the life of three childhood friends as they chase their dreams in their rustic hometown of Ahmadabad at the beginning of the new millennium, only to find their ambitions derailed by terrifying earthquakes, religious intolerance and political manipulations. It plays devilish mayhem with their desires and rocks their incredibly intense bond.
Despite their varying desires – Ishaan’s a failed cricket genius, Omi’s a disciplined son of a priest, and Govind’s a calculated businessman – the three are inseparable, and remain united in their pursuit of a sporting dream in the early 2000.
A depleting bank account, notwithstanding, the three are determined to stick it out and make it big with their sporting academy. They find an unlikely sponsor in Omi’s politically-driven uncle, who is more keen on promoting his nephew within his party circles than in encouraging his pals’ cricketing aspirations.
The boys continue to chase their dreams with gusto, with Ishaan taking the hugely-gifted Muslim boy Ali under his wing and diligently coaching him to make it in the big league.
Their plans, however, come crashing down following the earthquake on January 26, 2001, exposing cracks in their friendship over brewing religious indifferences.
Abhishek recreates the bloodied riots that erupted in 2002 in menacing frames, and zooms in on how a community gets cornered by the terrifying mob. Without taking sides or being moralistic, he merely captures the gruesome slaughter that destroyed the soul of a city.
Abhishek and Chetan join writers Pubali Chaudhuri and Suapratik Sen to create a screenplay that’s both engaging and impactful.
The edit, at 135 minutes screen-time, by Deepa Bhatia is snappy, and doesn’t appear sluggish despite the inclusion of three sound tracks by Amit Trivedi. If anything, it’s the insipid love trail between Govind and Omi’s sister Vidhya that’s tiresome.
Anay Goswamy captures the essence vividly, taking us a journey that’s truly life-altering.
The multiple incidents do crowd the screenplay, disallowing the writers to uncover any one in detail. That’s a shame considering there’s just so much to be reported.
Even though this isn’t a one-hero movie, Sushant Singh Rajput outshines his reel buddies with his mesmerizing act in his Bollywood debut. He has got oodles of charm and is a natural.
From portraying the feisty Ishaan’s upheavals, to battling his inner conflicts at being unable to succeed, to wanting to set things right for Ali, Sushant paints Ishaan in vibrant shades.
Sushant’s brilliance, however, doesn’t take away the credit from debutant Amit Sadh and Raj Kumar Yadav, who are equally impressive. Amit’s raw take on the pious Omi, who is torn between his friends and family, is enacted with matured restraint.
Even Raj Kumar, who has a few notable movie performances up his sleeve, plays out Govind with striking élan. It’s his awkward romantic sojourns that are the most delightful.
Of the supporting cast, it’s the meek, cricketing prodigy Ali and the aggressive politico uncle of Omi who are notable. If there’s a weak link, it’s Amrita Puri, who is unable to captivate us as the sms-obsessed, love-struck Vidhya.
Considering, Chetan’s ‘Five Point Someone’ was a roaring success in Bollywood as ‘3 Idiots’, it’s only natural ‘Kai Po Che’ awaits a similar, befitting honour.
Although there have been many movies that celebrated friendship on-screen, it’d be a big mistake if you skipped this one.