Director: Shakun Batra
Starring: Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Alia Bhatt, Siddharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan
There are no perfectly happy families. Happiness is not the usual state of any human for that matter. And yet we seek that most fervently, and hide behind the façade that keeps getting stronger, with each layer, each compromise, each forced smile, each lie.
Secrets, don't we all have them. No relationship is hundred percent transparent, and sometimes, secrets are kept from the ones we love the most to protect them… and at times for selfish reasons… Secrets which can destroy a family. That is when relationships are tested… will they survive?
Shakun Batra brings to us a family that in one word is Dysfunctional, where everyone is trying very hard to “Function”.
The notion of a family, a normal Indian family… with a doting mother, a father who is the provider, elders who are now leading a sedate life, kids who are devoted and follow the path shown by their parents.. We are conditioned to believe our parents can do no wrong. We put them on pedestals. They also try and fit in the defined role models... expecting their progeny to fit in too… with expectations and plans for their perfect future.
But human.. ah… that’s what they all are, individuals buried under the expectations, trying to fit in the mould, flawed, jagged, broken. And here lies the tale of Kapoor and Sons.
Dadu (Rishi Kapoor) who play acts his death so much that no one now really pays attention when he pretends to die at the breakfast table, the son (Rajat Kapoor) continues doing his accounts and his wife (Ratna Pathak Shah) continues nagging him about his inability to earn.
The equations are set from the opening scene itself. What they didn’t see coming was an actual heart attack. Dadu is admitted to the hospital and the sons Rahul (Fawad Khan) and Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) are called back to Coonoor. And slowly we realise nothing is functioning in this family relationship-wise. The brothers have a history, their relationship strained. Rahul seems to be the apple of the eye of both the parents, a son that can do no wrong. Arjun on the other hand seems to be a constant disappointment, especially to the father. The bickering parents only add to the tension, and then there is Dadu, who despite being bed ridden at the ripe old age of 90, in contrast to everyone is full of zest, a joie de vivre. He has two wishes he wants his grandsons to fulfill, an Army burial after his death and a Family photograph with all present, before he dies. His other son is traveling and they all await his and his family’s arrival. Meanwhile Dadu’s 90th birthday is coming up, a big party is planned. Enter Tia (Alia Bhatt) who owns an estate and is briefly visiting to sell it off. She bumps into Arjun, and they instantly strike it off. She also meets a prospective buyer of her estate, who turns out to be Rahul. She hits it off with him too!! A love triangle seems to emerge… while all the romance and bonhomie is happening.. layers are unfolded.. We get to know why Rahul and Arjun cannot be in the same room without a fight erupting, what is troubling their parents’ marriage, what is the guilt of the mother and the reality of a son... and many more secrets that threaten to come tumbling out. As we go deeper and deeper into the truth of each character… we realise nothing is what it seems to be.
Without going into spoilers, let me just say, some of the plot twists are predictable, yet by that time you are so invested that they affect you nonetheless. As each character’s struggle, emotional curve is revealed, you wonder whether this family will remain one… will that family portrait will ever be clicked, because they just don’t seem to fit in any frame, the distance between them too much…
On the acting front, the force that is Ratna Pathak Shah is unleashed in all its glory. You love her, you hate her, you cry with her… A performance that left me in awe. Fawad Khan is a discovery for me. He also made a very brave choice playing the character he did. Bollywood heroes with their images to maintain would have shied away from it, well most of them. He brings the character of a troubled writer, who is stuck after a first hugely successful novel… not a word coming out of him to page. Sidharth Malhotra plays the vulnerable younger brother well, who feels no one cares for him, that he is always going to be a lesser son, a loser in the eyes of his father, a writer who is yet to publish, but is weighed down by blocks of his own. They both share great chemistry, and their scenes together are believable and feel real. Alia is good, but frankly for me her track was just padding, not really important to the main story of the film. But she does bring oodles of fresh energy and charm to the going ons. Rajat Kapoor is controlled and in fine shape, his and Ratna’s scenes crackle, his craft shines through subtly. Their marriage so real, a couple so believable… a rare thing to see. Coming to Rishi Kapoor, he is playing himself I thought, cheeky, naughty and unabashed. He is having a ball and it is obvious. What touches you is his turn towards the end... And I must admit, I cried many a times... thinking of each one of them, their fate at the hand of human folly.
The story is fresh in the Indian context, though I could clearly see influences of many films. It loses pace at times, but delivers well. The dialogues are delightful.
Well done Shakun Batra. You have put life in each scene... a director in superb control.
GO meet this family!
My verdict : 3/5