Flawed family system sounds cool and interesting in papers but in reality, the experience can be a nightmare. Last year Bollywood offered us two terrific films that revolved around imperfect families: Dil Dhadakne Do and Titli.
While former poked fun on primitive mindset of a superficially progressive wealthy family’s and their desperate attempt to cover up their insecurities to appear ‘perfect’ with humorous tone underlying, latter was a brutal take on how a family – with a business so anti-social – can prove detrimental to one’s well-being and psychological state of mind.
This week’s new release ‘Kapoor & Sons‘ is centered around flawed family and Director Shakun Batra (who made his directorial debut with wonderful yet underrated Ekk Main Aur Ekk Tu) execute it with refreshing touch, soaring high with his sophomore and it is simply stupendous.
Kapoor family consist of five members and all of them have their plates very full with bickering about failing to make up things beyond their ability. Harsh Kapoor (Rajat Kapur), an erstwhile successful bank employee – now struggles financially and live with borrowed money, adding more insult to his injury is the snide comments of his wife Sunita Kapoor (Ratna Pathak Shah), who is equally as helpless as him, trying to meet ends to run the home.
Their elder son Rahul (Fawad Khan) – a successful novelist and entrepreneur in London- is a ‘perfect’ son and is highly regarded for his maturity and dedication, he is someone Harsh and Sunita seems to completely depends on bringing more stability in the mess. The younger son Arjun (Siddharth Malhotra), part-time bartender in New Jersey trying his hand – like his elder brother – as a novelist, struggles to prove his mettle to make his parents proud of his achievement. Amidst these depressing creatures lies the cheerfully scandalous nonagenarian grandpa (Rishi Kapoor) who keeps faking his death to get noticed and finds humor in the most unlikeliest body fluid.
In the paper, material might seem very complicated but on screen, it is remarkably crafted and maturely handled. From the opening scene itself, we – as an audience – are transported to their credible world so believable, heartening and depressing all at the same time. What impressed me a lot was the curveball makers throw on us towards the second half where layers get peeled off one by one, characters confront each other with brutal truth with high chances of changing their relationship dynamic forever. It does send chills down the spine and I felt the anxiety and lump on my throat. It is sentimental in tone, thankfully pushes the right button sans sugar coating it.
Of course, there are sequences that cheers you up like the scenes involving Grandpa’s non-stop nakhras, scenes involving Alia Bhatt (stars as Tia, refreshingly natural and effervescent) and domestic arguments – in spite of being serious – toned with comic layers around it.
There is one particular fantastic scene where a plumber is called upon to fix the water main and in the middle of it, senior couple argue over finances and affair, creating a mountain out of a mole of nothing, also leading to quarrel between the brothers to which the plumber intervene and ask for a modest fee considering what he can genuinely ask from people who are so hellbent busy bickering over petty issues. It is masterfully shot and one of the highest point of the film.
Ratna Pathak Shah & Rajat Kapur are tremendous as the couple, trying every level best to give their marriage a second chance and protective parents to their children. Siddharth Malhotra is charming and likable as the young son competing against his sibling to be the best in his parents eye and Rishi Kapoor is hilarious and inject huge dollop of zing as the attention-seeker grandpa, who still yearns for a mandakini’s saucy scene and blue films to reprise his naughty youth. For me, If there is any actor who stole the thunder under the nose of it’s lead is Fawad Khan, he delivers a brilliant, understated and balanced performance that never sends a false note. His confrontation scene with his mother post-interval raises the bar dramatically because so good is he is.
Ultimately, Kapoor & Sons belong to Director Shakun Batra along with writer Ayesha Dhillon, who incredibly writes a story that urges us to reflect on our thoughts and help us realize that eventually standing true to yourself and loving yourself and others – no matter how tragic it may sound and appear – is the force behind every happy family.