Of all the Bollywood films ever made on bromance, “Kai Po Che” wins hands down. Most Hindi films on male bonding have more or less relied upon big stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra in the past to Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan till recent times, but this is probably the first time a film about friendship has been successful sans star actors, courtesy Abhishek Kapoor. Based on Chetan Bhagat’s “3 Mistakes of My Life”, “Kai Po Che” is so brilliantly adapted that it supersedes the book in all departments.
Set in a small suburb in Amdavad around the break of the millennium, the film takes us through the aspirational lives of three best friends – Ishaan, Omi and Govind. Struggling to find a grip on their lives, the trio wrestles on a daily basis with real-life tragedies and all forms of pressure.
To set up a sports shop-cum-cricket academy, the three friends bring together their skills, resources and relentless passion for cricket. Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput), a committed sportsman in his school days, dedicates time coaching every aspiring kid in the neighborhood including his protégé, Ali.
Omi helps set up the enterprise by taking loan from his politician uncle under the condition that he will help in forthcoming political campaign. Govind manages accounts in the shop and also spends time taking Mathematics tuition for local kids. All is well in the life of the trio until a series of events threaten to destroy their business and friendship as well.
The film spends time in building joyful camaraderie between our protagonists and gradually shifts gears to focus on certain unfortunate events that changed their lives forever. Kapoor handles these moments with deftness and allows us to slip into the shoes of his characters to understand their triumphs, losses and dilemmas.
The film poses several questions for the audience to find answers to through the two hours of its run time. Shuffling mostly between cricket, friendship and politics, we’re confronted with questions such as the fate of so many aspiring cricketers who never get to even showcase their skills to a world outside their village or town or how a Hindu political party gets blood on its hands over communal divide. Abhishek never attempts to address these questions and instead allows us to ponder over as we walk out of the cinema.
With his taut screenplay, Kapoor handles varied moods of the film brilliantly. From moments of triumphs to minutes of aggression, he makes every single frame come alive and presents us with more reasons to enjoy the film. It would be extremely difficult to point out a single flaw in the film considering the fact that it has a bevy of inexperienced stars. While some had issues with the finale that literally moves even one with a heart of a stone into tears, Kapoor scores full marks for breathing hope eventually.
Its sheer brilliance with which Kapoor transforms 200 pages of Chetan Bhagat’s novel into cinematic splendor with the support of an impeccable cast. I haven’t seen a better cast in recent times that not only shine in their respective roles but prove that there’s so much of untapped potential in this country. Of the three, it’s extremely difficult take your eyes off the livewire, Ishaan, while Omi and Govind prove themselves with conviction and ease in their respective roles. The trio is the proof to the next generation stars of Bollywood.
From Amit Trivedi’s music to Anay Goswamy’s cinematography, “Kai Po Che” excels in every other department of film making. You can watch this film with the hope that times have changed for Bollywood with better days to follow.
[This review was first published in movieroundup.in]