Saturday, April 19, 2014

2 States Movie Review : A better book by Chetan Bhagat becomes an ordinary movie

Indian author Chetan Bhagat now writes books so that they can be converted into films. Yes, he has written his two latest books, 2 States and Revolution 2020 for the same purpose. As a novel, 2 States could be one of his better works, though I am not sure if it would still be any ruminating literature. Nevertheless, Bhagat does write engaging tales, rather simplistically, and they are able to engage a wide range of readers across the nation. It is no jaw dropping surprise then that they are made into movies. The first promo of the film 2 States was snazzy but thanda. The song promos were released right after and the music overcame the initial setback with much vim. Past few weeks, the buzz about the film has increased transcendentally and the film seems ready for a huge weekend. At some point in its promotional campaign, I could feel that it did not matter anymore if the film was good or not?

Debutante director Abhishek Varman has adapted Bhagat's story into a screenplay, along with Hussain Dalal (dialogues). But the rendition is inconsistent, ranging from clumsy to clinical. 2 States is the story of Bhagat's marriage, fictionalized as the marriage of Krish Malhotra (Arjun Kapoor) and Ananya Swaminathan (Alia Bhatt), who meet a much more rapturous IIM Ahmedabad than we know of. The story boasts of an interesting premise where Indian marriages dont happen with love between the couple only, infact there is a searing road ahead to convince both the set of parents and getting them to like each other. And it only gets worse if it is an inter-caste inter-state marriage. Varman's screenplay serves the story as it is without any savory tadkas, and that could be the biggest problem of the film. When you walk in to see the film, you would have seen best of the jokes in the trailer itself. Honestly, I am not against making mainstream ordinary love stories with nothing that fresh to offer. BUT in every film that is made on such large scales and budgets, there is always a scope of bringing in smaller nuances and a fresh treatment, and this is expected out of a first time director. Unfortunately, this is where Varman fumbles. He has ordinary material, but he also directions it ordinarily. Moments of laughter are far and few, while the clear cut effort to conjure the deep inexorable love story has left a lot of the film banal and stagnant. While the love story does work, it is underwhelming to see all the pieces of the cliched puzzle come in as you expect them to. The most fun portions of the film are the ones when both the sets of in-laws get together, and it only happens twice in the film. Another sequence which is handled well is the flashback of Krish's story with his dad. Varman anoints the film with warmth and chuckles but doffs the engagement, which even the book had. 2 States becomes easily likable but nothing worth remembering. 

Produced as a joint venture by rivals, Dharma Productions and Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, and presented by UTV Motion Pictures, 2 States is a product of avarice. So much so that, Sajid Nadiadwala shook hands with Karan Johar for the same. And thus, one can imagine the plush excessive budgets rolled out for this film. The biggest win of the film is that they were able to shoot inside IIM Ahmedabad campus. Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is an earful of melodies. Mast Magan, Locha-e-Ulfat and Offo have won over the audience already and are sure to stay on the charts. Binod Pradhan's cinematography is campy and ordinary, where the focus is more on the place than on the people or the moment. Namrata Rao's editing leaves a lot to desire as the film is overly long at 149 minutes. A special mention for Nandini Shrikent's brilliant casting of both the set of parents. Production Design by Amrita Mahal is good. 

When you gave a half-assed performance after a standing ovation, it is sort of a bummer, isnt it? Alia Bhatt gave Highway two months ago and now in 2 States, she can almost sleepwalk through Ananya's character. Arjun's Krish is much more interesting character. Arjun himself does well, but is limited by his available two expressions. He tries very hard to dance as well, but is nothing great at that as well. I guess he will have to make do with his charm which by any means isnt a bad thing seeing the fate of his films. I am just speculating the possibility of him being able to act. Amrita Singh is the best of the lot of parents, striking the cliched yet exact note of a Punjabi mother. Ronit Roy hams in an underwritten part. Shiv Subramaniam and Revathy are amazing as Ananya's Tamilian parents. 

On the whole, expectations from film adaptations of Bhagat's books have increased after 3 Idiots and specially Kai Po Che last year, where the ante was really upped by the films. In this peer zone, 2 States falls despicably short of its fellows. However, the film has an astounding buzz and is sure to rock the Box Office, owing to Alia's recent success, Arjun's cute face and the superficial Indian audience who will do anything to watch a campy entertainer...errr you may still be shortchanged in terms of entertainment. Unfortunately, I liked 2 States much less than I would have wanted to. Go for it if you have nothing else to do this weekend.

Rating - 2/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

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