|KAI PO CHE
UTV Motion Pictures’ Kai Po Che is the story of three friends, Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav), Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) and Omi (Amit Sadh), who live in Ahmedabad. Govind gives tuitions for a living. Ishaan is an excellent cricketer but is wasting his time doing nothing. The three friends dream of starting a sports academy and sports goods shop to make it big in life. After Ishaan’s father (Muni Jha) refuses to give the three young men money to pay as security deposit for premises for the academy, Omi’s maternal uncle, Bittoo (Manav Kaul), steps in to help the three friends. Bittoo is a leading politician and is keen that Omi also gets into politics. Here, Ishaan identifies great talent in a young boy, Ali (master Digvijay Deshmukh), who is the son of a politician, Naseer Hashmi (Asif Basra), an arch-rival of Bittoo. Ishaan starts training Ali with the intention of preparing him for Ranji Trophy matches and ultimately for international cricket.
Soon, the friends think of shifting their shop and academy to a mall which is being constructed and they again take money from Omi’s uncle to pay as security deposit. However, a massive earthquake in Ahmedabad ruins all their plans as the mall, like many other buildings, is heavily damaged.
Even as rescue and relief operations by politician Bittoo are underway in full swing, Ishaan brings Ali’s family to the relief camp as their house is badly damaged and Ali’s father, Naseer Hashmi, is away at that time. However, Bittoo’s men refuse to help Ali and his family because of their rivalry with Naseer Hashmi. In the heat of the moment, Ishaan has a fight with Bittoo’s men and also with Omi who is helping his uncle in his political activities.
Elections are around the corner and Omi gets completely sucked into election campaigning for his Bittoo uncle. Naseer Hashmi’s candidate defeats Bittoo in the elections, much to the chagrin of Bittoo.
Here, Govind and Ishaan are finding it difficult to run their sports shop. As it is, Omi has not been coming to the shop due to his fight with Ishaan and his busy schedule in the election campaigning. Meanwhile, unknown to Ishaan, his sister, Vidya (Amrita Puri), gets close to Govind who has been giving her tuitions in Mathematics, her weakest subject.
Even as Ali is doing very well on the cricket field under Ishaan’s training, riots break out in Ahmedabad following the torching of two compartments of a train at Godhra station. Omi loses both his parents in that incident. His uncle, Bittoo, politicises the incident and makes it a communal one, instigating his party men to go on the rampage. Bittoo’s men are out on the streets to avenge the Godhra massacre. They are targeting people of the minority community only. In the tense atmosphere, Ishaan must ensure that Ali, who belongs to the minority community, makes it for the selection process.
Does Ali make it to the selection venue? Is Ishaan able to realise his dream of seeing Ali play international cricket? Does Ishaan get to know of his sister’s love affair with his best friend, Govind? Does Omi return to his two friends or does life have something else in store for him? What happens to the dream of the three friends to expand their sports academy?
The film is based on Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling novel, The Three Mistakes Of My Life. The screen adaptation has been done by Pubali Chaudhuri, Supratik Sen, Abhishek Kapoor and Chetan Bhagat. While the first half is interesting, especially the bonding between the three friends and the training of Ali, the post-interval portion does not deliver what the audience expects. For instance, the viewer waits to see how Ali makes it for the selection in the midst of the communal riots, whether he is selected or not, etc. But the Godhra massacre aftermath takes such precedence in the second half that the drama almost goes on a tangent. What should essentially have been a backdrop comes to the foreground, almost resulting in a shift of focus. No doubt, the writers show what ultimately happens, by taking a leap of ten years, but what the audience thirsts for is the drama or the process in those ten years, not just the end result. This, because the first half prepares the viewers for that and raises hopes of an emotional and dramatic second half. This is not to say that the post-interval portion does not have drama; of course, it has a lot of drama but not of the kind the audience is ready to watch or, rather, hoping to watch. Due to this, the emotional high the viewers expect to get just doesn’t happen. Also, since one has read and seen (on TV news channels) so much of the Godhra massacre aftermath, the post-interval part does not offer much novelty.
Having said this, it must be added that there will be a section of the class audience in the big cities, which will relish all that unfolds on the screen in both, the first and the second halves, as it is excellently presented and seems very authentic, but those looking for the fictional part of the drama to progress further, will be quite taken aback by that (fictional drama) taking a backseat and the real-life incidents (of the Godhra massacre and its aftermath) coming so much to the fore. In other words, a large chunk of the audience, especially the masses and the audience in smaller centres, will be disappointed by the absence of the drama showing Ali’s rise and the sports academy’s contribution to the same. Dialogues, penned by the four screenplay writers, are very natural and real. So is the atmosphere which is created!
Raj Kumar Yadav does an outstanding job and literally lives the role of Govind. He is supremely natural and acts with such effortless ease that it is a delight to watch him perform. Whether it is his expressions or dialogue delivery or body language, they all are in complete synch with one another. He delivers a noteworthy and award-winning performance. Sushant Singh Rajput makes his big-screen debut with flourish. He looks good and acts so naturally that it doesn’t look like he is acting. Sushant is a talent to watch out for and has all that it takes to become a big star. Amit Sadh is good in the role of Omi and he, too, gets it right. He acts very well. Amrita Puri is cute and makes Vidya’s character very endearing with a mature performance. Manav Kaul looks nice and plays Bittoo refreshingly. Master Digvijay Deshmukh leaves a mark as young Ali. Asif Basra is pretty effective in the role of Naseer Hashmi. Muni Jha has his moments as Ishaan’s father. Amitabh Srivastav does well in the role of Omi’s father who is a temple priest. Ashish Kakkad (as Vishwas), Gargi Patel (as principal Mrs. Mehta), Morli Patel (as Govind’s mother), Bina Shah (as Omi’s mother), Alok Gadgekar (as Subodh Mehta), Bharat Thakkar (as Hasan Sheikh), Bhim Vakani (as Parekhji), Mohd. Iqbal (as the grown-up Ali) and the others provide decent support.
Abhishek Kapoor’s direction is splendid. He has created a very authentic atmosphere, extracted great work from out of his cast and narrated the story in a very interesting fashion. But the second half of the human drama about relationships makes the film class-appealing. Amit Trivedi’s music score is brilliant. ‘Manja’ and ‘Shubh aarambh’ are excellently tuned songs. ‘Meethi boliyaan’ is quite nice. Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics are extraordinary. Mansi Aggarwal and Jayesh Pradhan’s choreography is refreshing. Hitesh Sonik deserves high praise for a mind-blowing background score, the impact of which stays with the viewer long after the film is over. Anay Goswami deserves distinction marks for his splendid cinematography. Action scenes (Parvez-Feroz) are good. Sets (Sonal Sawant) are lovely. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is marvellous.
On the whole, Kai Po Che is a beautifully made and wonderfully enacted film. But it cannot be expected to score everywhere. Its appeal at the box-office will be restricted due to its heavy and tangential second half. The film will do well in select cinemas and good multiplexes. It must be added here that there will also be a section of the class audience which will love the film. Business in Gujarat should be better than in the rest of the country due to the Gujarati flavour of the settings, dialogues etc. and the Gujarat backdrop. Its difficult and incomprehensible (to the non-Gujarati speaking audience) title is a minus point, more so because the film has no face value to pull in the crowds.