Friday, February 22, 2013

Kai Po Che is a beautifully crafted and acted film

Let me put it out there. Kai Po Che, directed by Abhishek 'Gattu' Kapoor is a rejuvenating film that deserves to be seen by one and all. There, thats the one line review, but if you do care, read a complete analysis below.

They released the first trailer of Kai Po Che a couple of months ago, and it almost smelt like a winner. Over the weeks, the buzz grew and the popularity whetted, aided by Amit Trivedi's ear candy music album for the film as well as Disney UTV's stunning exercise with marketing the film. I was pumped the moment I saw Raj Kumar Yadav in the promos, and the weeks upto its release have comprised only of a painful wait. To take you back a little in time, Kapoor directed Rock On in 2007 which discovered the actor in Farhan Akhtar and proclaimed to the world that Arjun Rampal had more than one facial expression. Kapoor was also an actor at some point of time in his life before he dived into direction with Aryan (2005). 5 years, is a disturbingly monstrous break for a filmmaker, but not so much when you watch his latest offering. Accolades and positive responses started pouring in from last weekend at Berlinale and haven't stopped ever since the confident press screening on Monday this week. Gattu has done it again, and Kai Po Che shines resplendently as a fine product.

Kai Po Che is based on Chetan Bhagat's third novel, Three Mistakes of My Life. A writer who has been pummeled for catering to the masses and even insulting literature, held very dear by the classes who dont shrug at his sheer mediocrity. But Bhagat moves on unperturbed doing what he is best at, and is credited here for the film's screenplay, along with Abhishek Kapoor, Pubali Chaudhari and Supratik Sen. Despite there being a gazillion films on male bonding, and exactly all of them being based on three lead characters, the writers of KPC had the audacity to pick up the same premise and turn it around its head and master a heavy dose of freshness with surgical precision. KPC tells the story of three friends, who are not rich, who do not travel to Australia to look after their dad's business or go to Spain to rediscover the real meaning of life, but stay grounded in Gujarat to deal with issues that we see around us in our everyday lives. This, and much more, makes it astronomically more relatable, apart from being phenomenally real. I think the biggest stepping stone to any good script is getting the casting right before jumping into filming. Mukesh Chhabra, the casting director of KPC, scores an ace by undoing the star power and putting together a blistering pack of actors that set the screen alive, ably aided by Kapoor's vision. The writing has been honed to be taut, throwing in mini-conflicts all through the runtime of 125 minutes and amending the fallacies of the book as it chugs along, pitching in a surprise right when you least expect it. 

But it is Gattu's direction that transcends Kai Po Che from being just another film on male bonding and graduates it to the pedestal of awesomeness. The first scene when Raj Kumar is tutoring Amrita Puri, the whole sequence on the song Meethi Boliyaan, the scene on the roof between Sushant Rajput and Puri, the juxtaposition of a cricket match with a religiously incited election campaign, the under-yet-subtly done climax, the last scene at the cricket ground with Amit Sadh breaking down or just every other scene with Raj Kumar constitute what is a buffet of eyeball orgasms, suitably dissolving the boundaries of filmmaking and bring the house down to a thunderous applause as the film ended. Its the narrative coherence that makes it hard to point a finger at KPC. The film has a thriving political and social undercurrent to its plotline which has been gripped well in Kapoor's direction, yet the political tone does not remain the most well-handled part of the film, if I may say so. But tying it around real events such as Gujarat earthquakes and the Godhra massacre and maintaining the focus on the growth of real characters' friendship with a crackling eye for detail dispenses with most of the confusion as it becomes a delightfully emotive film. The derogratory epithets, the banality of progress driven society and the jingoistic religious flag bearers, all are diluted by the sheer simplicity of Kapoor's handlling. If Rock On was great, this one is so much better.

Backed with candor by Disney UTV, Kai Po Che is technically suave. The brilliant Anay Goswami picks up his camera and captures some of the best frames for Kai Po Che where even the traditional garba sequence doesnt look tacky. Deepa Bhatia's editing is breakneck and is a peachy example of how much we have improved when it comes to editing our films. Amit Trivedi gives only three songs for this album with lyrics by Swanand Kirkire, but all of them are loaded with assuredness to become classics, just to add to the growing list of awesome Trivedi songs. Manja, the most marketed track, comes twice in the film, and you are sure to break into a smile every time it does, clearly securing its spot as the pick of the lot. Line production by the UTV team and Sonal Sawant's production design lends a great amount of authenticity to the proceedings without an ounce of un-required lavishness. Dialogues cut out the bollywood exaggerations and bubbliness to allow you to savor cinema at its best.

Kai Po Che would have been half as good a film if it had succumbed to popular casting techniques. The entire cast of the film makes it rise and soar with much zeal. Leading the clout is the remarkable Raj Kumar Yadav. Now if you do not who he is, firstly, you are not watching the right kind of cinema, and secondly, here is a link to find out about everything he has done in the recent past and why it is hard to find an outlier to the fact that he is plain outstanding. Watch him in the scene where he finds out that Sushant has stolen their hard earned money and you will know what I am talking. Through KPC, he not only outshines his co-actors but also makes our popular actors of the industry look despicable when it comes to pure performance. Sushant Singh Rajput, the superstar of Indian television makes a confident debut, permeating hefty emotions with panache and bring alive the character of a dreamer. Amit Sadh is unusually stunning in close-ups, despite my initial apprehensions, and delivers the secret knockout performance in a character that shows the most significant changes. Amrita Puri, as Sushant's doting sister, is fanciful in the beginning but shows a wide unexplored range of acting skills across the film. Manav Kaul, as the conniving Bittu Mama, is pitch perfect and so is the child artist. Digvijay Deshmukh, cast as Ali. 

Kai Po Che is a striking film, that leaves you enthralled enough to go back into the theater for a repeat viewing. Its a comprehensive film that offers much more than just friendship and male bonding and all set pieces are ably incorporated into the narrative, incentivized by reward-worthy performances. It has taken a good start at the Box Office and the word of mouth has to be giantly positive. The audience cannot be detracted by newcomers or have any apprehensions because this is excellent cinema. Kai Po Che stands for a triumphant yell in Gujarati uttered when flying kites, but Abhishek Kapoor uses the metaphor to carve a formidably crafted product that should receive its due lucre. I vehemently urge you to not find out from your friends about its story or how good it is, and just go to a theater, buy a ticket and indulge in a teethingly well-made film.

Rating - 4/5