Four years back, Shakun Batra made his directorial debut with the Kareena Kapoor Khan – Imran Khan starrer ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’ which was a fresh take on love and friendship between two individuals. The several heart-warming moments, coupled with an unconventional ending, made it a thoroughly enjoyable affair. After making a nice, little film that focussed on the relationship shared by two individuals, Shakun opts for a bigger canvas and portrays the trials and tribulations of a family in ‘Kapoor & Sons’.
Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) and Harsh Kapoor (Rajat Kapoor) are a middle aged couple who live in their cozy home in Coonoor. The couple has several differences between them and keep squabbling every now and then. Also residing in the house is Dadu/grandfather (Rishi Kapoor), who is Harsh’s father. Rahul, the elder son, is a published author and is based in London. Arjun, Rahul’s younger brother, has left his job and now works as a part-time bartender while he struggles to get a break as a writer. The brothers head to Coonoor to see their grandfather who has had a heart attack. In the midst of all the issues their family is going through, the brothers (at different times) comes across the free spirited Tia (Alia Bhatt) who brings a certain spark to each of their lives. Dadu, who has turned 90, expresses his desire to get a picture clicked with the entire family which would have Kapoor & Sons Since 1921, engraved on it.
One of the many things that work in favour of the film is the fact that the director maintains a sense of realism while giving us a glimpse into the lives of the members of a slightly carked family. The first half familiarises you with the characters and the issue(s) each one of them is going through. The second half has some twists and turns in store for the audience but they are not far-fetched and come across as believable. Probably, the one sequence which has not been executed efficaciously is the one where one gets to know about a mistake committed by Sunita in the past which led to a discord between the two brothers. Even as the revelation takes you by surprise, the reason which she puts forward are not convincing enough. The director has set the film in Coonoor to lend a small town charm to it. However, the fact that almost all the characters in the film lead a very urbane lifestyle makes you forget that they are in a small hill station in India.
Sidharth Malhotra has a long way to go before one can take him seriously as an actor. He fails to emote effectively in some crucial dramatic scenes. Alia Bhatt does not get as much screen time as the other key players but lights up the screen with her presence in every frame she appears in. Fawad Khan has an enigmatic presence and talent to match it up with. Rishi Kapoor enacts the role of a 90 year old with effective ease and without looking uncomfortable in the heavy makeup he wears. Ratna Pathak Shah is outstanding. The aforementioned sequence in the second half featuring her does not fail completely because of her performance. Rajat Kapoor looks much younger compared to Ratna, his onscreen wife but it is a treat to see two powerhouse performers share the screen together. Sukant Goel, who plays Wasim, offers some light moments. The rest of the actors have been cast appropriately and play their parts well.
Though Shakun Batra had made a promising debut with ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’, he shows a remarkable amount of growth as a storyteller with his second film. The film is embellished with several emotions and Shakun handles each of them with utmost sensitivity. Barring a few loopholes, the screenplay (Shakun Batra, Ayesha Devitre Dhillon) is pitch-perfect. The drama, humour and all the emotions are weaved in seamlessly without resorting to any gimmick. The dialogues (Shakun Batra, Ayesha Devitre Dhillon and Spandan Mishra) are simple and evoking. The music (Amaal Mallik, Benny Dayal, Badshah, Nucleya, Arko and Tanishk Bagchi) is a let-down. Barring “Kar Gayi Chull” and “Buddhu Sa Mann”, the songs do not make much of an impact. They have been incorporated in the film very well though. The background score (Sameer Uddin) is very nice. The editing (Shivkumar V. Panicker) contributes significantly towards the brisk pace of the film. Jeffery F. Bierman’s camerawork is top notch.
‘Kapoor & Sons’ is a highly engaging film which presents us with characters and situations one can easily relate to and empathize with. Furthermore, it is a story told really well. Very rarely does one see a filmmaker taking the kind of leap Shakun Batra takes with his second film. The growth that one sees in him as a filmmaker is remarkable. It has been a long time since a film left me teary eyed. This is a film that needs to be watched and revelled with the entire family.