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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kapoor And Sons 


 With A Family Like This...


Karan Johar’s film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham had the famous (and now much parodied tagline): It’s all about loving your family.  Now his production company comes up with a film about a family that’s hard to love. Maybe the Kapoors are not as dysfunctional as Hollywood film families, but they are certainly not sweetness and light.

For Dharma Productions, making a film in Coonoor must be akin to slumming it. But it’s here that the Kapoor family lives—grandpa Amarjeet (Rishi Kapoor—buried under layers of make-up), who is touching ninety and ‘practices’ dying.  His harried older son Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) and long-suffering daughter-in-law Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) are constantly squabbling over financial troubles and missed opportunities.

When Amarjeet gets a heart attack, the two grandsons, Rahul (Fawad Khan) and Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) fly down from London to be with the family. All the hidden resentments start spilling out almost immediately. Arjun is unhappy because he is the “loser” and Rahul is the “perfect” son,  but there is another reason for their troubles. Luckily, the cliché of the love triangle is avoided—the noisy, laughing (and hiding tragedy) Tia (Alia Bhatt) gets pally with both brothers, but there is no tug-of-war over her. It is soon easy to predict why and that is a groan-worthy episode—not to insert a spoiler but in this day and age, a key word is not used.

The grandfather’s birthday kicks off a series of feuds and the family often erupts into screaming matches.  While the careful lack of melodrama is welcome, the problems of the family come across as too mundane. Maybe that was the intention – to portray an ordinary family with ordinary problems—but then there is risk of dullness. The film’s attempts at humour fall flat—the old man lusting over a wet sari clad Mandakini, or demanding a supply of blue films on an ipad is really not funny; neither are Alia Bhatt’s manic antics.

Anyway, Bollywood has reached this far, there is still time to reach the level of dysfunction or eccentricity seen in, say The Addams Family. The acting is top notch with Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak Shah’s effortless performance and Sidharth Malhotra bringing a kind of wounded vulnerability to his black sheep role. Fawad Khan and Alia Bhatt add the hot and cool quotient.Kapoor And Sons falls under the could-have-been-better category.

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