Ever played ‘Spot the Difference’? There are two identical drawings and you have to really look hard to …well…spot it. The Karan Johar produced “Kapoor & Sons” is that kind of film where you have to spot the difference between the real and the fake. The fake is so good that it looks real. And you know what, you don’t really care because there is the director, Shakun Batra who is maneuvering the DOP’s camera and the editor’s cuts so damn well that, every single sequence in the film is a masterful choreography of family fights which entertain and engage but do not disturb you.
So you have a mother-Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) who is yelling some instructions at a plumber in the bathroom and her husband—Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) who is yelling the opposite, a leaking pipe bursts some more and then both are yelling at each other, while their two handsome sons—a cool headed, achcha beta—Rahul (Fawad Khan) and a hot headed good for nothing beta—Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) try to calm the parents down. And voila, before you know it, the two brothers are at throwing things at each other. The sequence, of course ends with the plumber saying something funny and scrambling away.
Showing a “real” scenario like this itself is such a big deal in a Hindi commercial film and that too a Karan Johar one where the rule of the thumb has been, “it’s all about loving your family”. So it comes as a most welcome change that Johar finally gives us a dysfunctional family where people don’t sing and dance but instead fight. Okay, correction. People do sing and dance but on not Swiss Alps. They sing and dance only in small gardens outside their bungalows. And when they fight, they appear like a beautiful seamless choreography. Charming!
It’s like how we Indians love family photos. After all, having a family and a large one at that, is one thing every Indian can boast of. More so, in these Instagram times. The thing is that Instagram gives us filter options to make our pictures look more flattering.
Kapoor & Sons does the opposite.
It takes a great looking family, which looks rich but acts poor; which looks both happy and unhappy at the same time. Just like Rishi Kapoor’s prosthetic makeup. As grandfather of the Kapoor family, he is the grandfather of fake. Just like his ghastly makeup doesn’t allow us to see his pain, the well-choreographed fights in the family don’t let you see much reality yet involves you. The way Kapoor’s face makes you look at his makeup and go ‘wow’ at first for the hard work involved and then you finally start hating it for its very artificiality.
Back to the family photo. It is quite a sweet idea that an entire film can revolve around one Mr Prosthetic Kapoor who dreams of a happy family picture called Kapoor & Sons, since 1921.
So we have a dysfunctional family. Albeit, in Johar’s trademark style of bringing together an unreal world with two good looking men who are supposed to be novelists. One—Rahul (Fawad Khan) works out of London and the other—Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) in U.S for some strange reason. They could very well be ramp models, considering how little we see of their professional world. But thankfully, we see them mostly in the charmingly refreshing setting of Coonoor where Mr Prosthetic K resides with his son, Harsh and daughter-in-law, Sunita .
Director Shakun Batra, along with co-writer, Ayesha Devitre Dhilon, brings in as much realism as possible, the way he did in his fine debut- Ek Main Aur Ek Tu and extracts surprisingly good performances from both Malhotra and Khan who share great chemistry and sense of timing. But mind you, Malhotra cries very delicately with a single tear in just one eye. The way Rani Mukherjee did in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. That’s the pretty, glossy, Johar stamp which one doesn’t mind really.
In Coonoor, we see that the family is as dangerously together as a shaky house of cards valiantly trying to stay balanced. Prosthetic K is expecting to die any minute and keeps faking his death too. Ah, that F word again. But never mind.
The ever squabbling son and wife are used to his antics and don’t take him seriously until one fine day he does get a heart attack. Rahul and Arjun rush back home which is anything but perfect. Arjun fights with Rahul because of a past misdeed, Sunita fights with Harsh over one Mrs Anu and his lack of income, Rahul fights with everyone since Arjun is the pyara beta and sometimes you lose track of who is fighting with whom. There are times when the brothers don’t fight and have fun bonding moments. The writing meets the challenge of this now hot, now cold bros relationship, really well.
Family time over. Enters, an even more charming cutesy girl, Tia (Alia Bhatt) in a lacy white top and white shorts who loves poking fun at everyone. The dialogues and her interactions with both the brothers are the best part of the film as they are as natural as your daily chats. Nothing fake here. More fun.
As the film progresses, the fights in the shaky household turn ugly on a particularly eventful day. One would actually wonder what’s the fuss really about if it wasn’t for a masterly and rapid intercutting of parallel scenes and performances—one inside a house and the other in a garden. Interestingly, the situation’s gravity never really hits you, right till the end despite every attempt at melodrama and a revelation of secrets, especially one involving the brothers’ conflict. The ending appears to have a forced impact to get you in the tearjerker mode. And well, it succeeds, mostly.
Rajat Kapoor and Fawad Khan shine the most in this overall performance packed drama, and brilliantly choreographed family photo sequences by Batra.
Kapoor & Sons does a fine job of balancing the feel good with the dark elements of a very entertaining house of impressive cards played well by three hotties. So what, if all involved fake it? It was fun while it lasted. Well done, Bro.