(Although I have tried to avoid them as far as possible, there may be some spoilers in the review)
Fox Star Studios and Dharma Productions Pvt. Ltd.’s Kapoor & Sons (UA) is a modern-day family drama. Arjun Kapoor (Sidharth Malhotra) and Rahul Kapoor (Fawad Khan) are brothers. While Rahul is a sought-after writer, working on his second book in London, younger brother Arjun is still struggling as a writer in the USA. To make both ends meet, he works part-time as a bartender. In India, their parents, Harsh Kapoor (Rajat Kapoor) and Sunita Kapoor (Ratna Pathak Shah), and grandfather (Rishi Kapoor) live at Coonoor.
The two brothers come to Coonoor on the same day because their grandfather has suffered a heart attack and is admitted to the ICU of a hospital. It soon emerges that there is an undercurrent of tension between the two brothers and although Rahul is trying to keep matters as easy as possible, Arjun is not very happy. Arjun also resents the fact that his parents shower more love on his elder brother, that he himself is only the second-best. It is also clear that all is not well between Harsh and Sunita. Harsh has quit his job to do a business which isn’t going any great shakes. Sunita also suspects him of having an affair with Anu (Anuradha Chandan), an ex-colleague of his.
Arjun meets Tia (Alia Bhatt) at a friend’s party and the two hit it off really well. Rahul meets Tia under different circumstances. He wants to buy a bungalow in Coonoor, which he can convert into an artistes’ retreat, and Tia has come to Coonoor to sell her bungalow. Tia finds Rahul very hot and even kisses him once. Tia, of course, doesn’t know that Rahul is Arjun’s brother. Likewise, Rahul is unaware that Arjun and Tia are close to each other. Arjun himself is oblivious to Tia’s meetings with Rahul.
Rahul and Arjun plan a surprise 90th birthday party for their grandfather who is discharged from hospital that day. The party gets ruined because Anu, an invitee, comes to the party, much to Sunita’s discomfort.
The grandfather has all along wanted a family photograph and to fulfil his wish, his other son, Shashi (Vickram Kapadia), comes to Coonoor with his family. But on the very day the family picture is to be clicked come tumbling out skeletons from the family cupboards. Rahul has hidden a very important truth from his family, and all hell breaks loose when his mother gets to know about it. Harsh Kapoor’s affair with Anu comes out in the open which is shocking, most of all for Rahul because he had all along given his father the benefit of doubt. Arjun gets to know about the kiss between his beloved, Tia, and his brother, Rahul.
Already resentful about Rahul’s success because Arjun thinks that Rahul had flicked his story for his first book, Arjun gets a further shock when he learns about how his story idea had gotten flicked.
With so much tension, the family photograph remains a dream. Calamity strikes the family in the form of a road accident in which one member dies.
Who is the one who dies? What is the truth which Rahul had hidden from the family? What is the bitter truth which Arjun gets to know about the theft of his story? Does Tia marry Arjun? Or do Tia and Rahul unite in matrimony? Or does Tia marry none of the brothers? Is the grandfather’s wish for a complete family picture fulfilled?
Ayesha Devitre Dhillon and Shakun Batra have written an entertaining family drama and made it very contemporary by making the characters very modern. Their screenplay is racy and keeps the audience completely engrossed. The first half is light and humorous and although the tension between members of the Kapoor family manifests itself every now and then, what stands out is the light-heartedness of the drama amidst all the tension and mayhem. What also comes out in the underlying tension is the emotional bond between the two brothers and between the mother and her two sons as also between the father and his sons.
The screenplay takes a serious and emotional turn after interval. The scene in which Tia narrates her back story would moisten the eyes of many. The video e-mail which the grandfather sends out to Rahul and Arjun is bound to draw tears from many among the audience because he (grandfather) is so endearing. There are several other scenes in the pre-climax and climax, which tug at the viewers’ heart-strings.
The intelligent thing which the writers have done is that the shocking revelation about the truth which Rahul had hidden from the family is introduced quite late in the drama – and that is also done subtly. Since the truth may appear too shocking to the conservative and orthodox audience, its introduction so late in the film is very sensible. Of course, the class, city and multiplex audiences would be more receptive to this. Even otherwise, the film is targeted at the city audience, more at the youngsters and also quite at the families and ladies.
However, the writers have not been able to justify the wrong committed by mother Sunita Kapoor. They have tried to give a reason for her action but that reason is not convincing enough, con- sidering the gravity of her action. This aspect of the drama will not appeal to a section of the audience.
Ayesha Devitre Dhillon and Shakun Batra’s dialogues, with additional dialogues by Spandan Mishra, are excellent and go straight to the viewer’s heart.
Rishi Kapoor is extraordinary as the 90-year-old grandfather. He is so cute and so endearing that one can’t help but fall in love with him. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he evokes laughter each time he opens his mouth. Easily, his is an award-winning performance. Sidharth Malhotra is splendid. He conveys his hurt and frustration at being sidelined always, so beautifully that one’s heart goes out to him. He is lovable as the lover boy. Fawad Khan looks like a million bucks and gives an outstanding performance. The girls and ladies among the audience will absolutely go bananas over his handsome looks and his work. Alia Bhatt once again shines bright. She is so natural and bubbly that she mesmerises one and all with her remarkable performance. She looks beautiful and delivers an award-winning performance. Her dance is outstanding. Ratna Pathak Shah deserves kudos for her show of talent. Her facial expressions and body language are to die for. Rajat Kapoor is first-rate as Harsh Kapoor. He conveys his helplessness so effectively that it is praiseworthy. Sukant Goel lends terrific support as Wasim. Faheem Shaikh is too funny as body builder Boobly. Amarjeet Singh leaves a mark as the plumber. Vickram Kapadia (as Shashi uncle), Anahita Uberoi (as Neetu aunty) and Anuradha Chandan (as Anu) are beautifully restrained. Shanaia Kapoor (as Alia), Arbaaz Kadwani (as Sharic), Arya Sharma (as Zoey), Aakriti Dobhal (as Bunkoo), Burjor Patel (as Chowksy Kaka), Chandrajit Ranavde (as the real estate broker), Sulekshana (as the nurse), Sanjay Kanojiya (as the toll booth attendant) and the others are all adequate.
Shakun Batra’s direction is marvellous. Given the script, he has remained honest to it and kept the narrative style suitable for the target audience – the classes and the multiplex viewers – while making it entertaining for families too. He deserves praise for his sensitive handling of the unconventional (for the Hindi film-going audience) portion of the drama and keeping it very subtle too. Music is a major asset. Badshah’s composition, ‘Kar gayi chul’, is already a rage with the youth. The other songs (composed by Fazilpuria, Amaal Malik, Arko, Benny Dayal & Nucleya, and Tanishk Bagchi) are melodious and appealing. Lyrics (Badshah, Kumaar, Manoj Muntashir, Dr. Devendra Kafir and Abhiruchi Chand) are of a good standard. Choreography of the ‘Kar gayi chul’ song (by Adil Shaikh) is superb. Sameeruddin’s background music is terrific. Jeffery F. Bierman’s cinematography is par excellence. Vikram Dahiya’s action scenes are realistic. Sarada Ramaseshan’s production designing, and Gautam S. Mondal’s art direction are of a truly good standard. Shivkumar V. Panicker’s editing is fantastic.
On the whole, Kapoor & Sons is an entertaining film for the youth and the families, mainly of the cities, and for the multiplex-frequenting viewers. It will not be able to do much in the single-screen cinemas and in small centres but its business in the cities and multiplexes will be big enough to make the film a hit. As it is, around 70% of the total investment has already been recovered from non-theatrical sources (satellite, music and Internet rights).