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Saturday, April 19, 2014

2 States  

 Aiyyo Meets Balle Balle

A romcom like 2 States can take place only in India. A young man and woman in love want their parents not just to like their choice of mate but also each others’ families.  When one set of parents is Punjabi and other Tamilian, the task is made even more difficult.

Based on Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling novel, the plot is Ek Duuje Ke Liye crossed with Meet The Parents, and one that makes liberal used of stereotypes to create conflict where there isn’t any. Because Ananya (Alia Bhatt) and Krish (Arjun Kapoor) are today’s independent urban youngsters who ought to be able to solve their problems without the full-blown melodrama.  Bhagat’s book that was silly and funny with corny humour is just overblown on screen, so that you really want to hit the two lovelorn protagonists on the head and tell them to get on with it.

Still, in there somewhere is a kind of truth that Indian youngsters will identify with, that they can move away from their families, but parents and siblings still provide an emotional support system that often makes them more significant than a lover... if a choice has to be made.

Krish and Ananya, fall in love at IIM, but have to go through the complicated parental rigmarole that might have been valid 20 years ago, but seems dated today. 

Still, the shallowness packaged in Karan Johar (he is a co-producer) aesthetics—where even middle class people live in grand homes and students’ hostel rooms look like something out of interior design magazines—ensures that the film will appeal to its target audience. Even though, while watching this film in Hindi, you have to suspend disbelief; would IIM students speak to each other in Hindi, would the teachers teach in Hindi and would a Tamilian family converse in the hated Northern language with such ease? 

Never mind, this is Bollywood. Casting two fresh and appealing young actors in the roles helps along too, and Alia Bhatt, without making any effort to be an authentic Tam-Brahm girl, brings out the perkiness of the free-spirited character, who does as she pleases when she is out of parental influence. Arjun Kapoor is charming, but comes across as one-note, hangdog in comparison. The supporting cast—Amrita Singh, Ronit Roy, Revathy, Shiv Subrahmanyan and Achint Kaur—play their parts with a gung-ho spirit, aware that they are representing cultural stereotypes (dour Tamilians, aggressive Punjabis, etc).

Trying to remain faithful to the book makes the film too long with large chunks of banality. The novel needed updating and adapting instead of slavish copying to make it relevant to the times.  But even as it is, 2 States serves its commercial purpose—romance, laughs, some sniffles, music, dance, family values, wrapped with a glittery bow. 


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