Remember that family portrait adorning the poster of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (Okay, K3G)? Now you can already find that chorus theme playing in your head, right? Ditto here. Decades later, the film’s director, Karan Johar turns producer and replaces that chorus with cacophony, while director Shakun Batra turns this very genre on its head with ‘Kapoor & Sons’.
Welcome to the abode of Kapoor & Sons, where plumbers often forgo their charges to ‘cooperate’ with the family fighting tooth and nail for money, where brothers bay for each other’s blood in one scene and taking a drag of a common ciggie in the next (with a disclaimer line below), where on one side, the family often breaks into a ‘Chand si mehbooba ho meri’ song from Himalay Ki God mein, where taking a family picture is a mammoth task – a sharp commentary on the social life of our social media times.
The family head is no longer a dominating patriarch like Amitabh Bachchan in K3G. He is a Harsh Kapoor (Played to perfection by Rajat Kapoor), a failed businessman torn between troubled marriage and a secret-which-no-longer-remains-a-secret affair.
Rajat Kapoor makes his character believable through restrained histrionics that make one root for him, despite knowing he’s perhaps at fault somewhere (The actor is so good that he makes it difficult for you to judge his character). There’s a scene where he is conversing with Ratna Pathak Shah in bed, which beautifully expresses love, fear, helplessness and vulnerability of his character.
The mother here is no Reema Lagoo whom everyone goes paay-lagoo. She’s an ambitious homemaker (Ratna Pathak Shah, brilliant like always) nursing dreams of venturing into catering business. Ratna Pathak Shah makes her presence felt as a homemaker with special corner for her elder son. She cooks so convincingly that you can almost smell those delicacies.
The elder son (Fawad Khan, a revelation here), though the blue-eyed boy of the house is an author of a bestseller, who shares a strained relationship with his brother (Siddharth Malhotra), He, too, has a secret-which-no-longer-remains-a-secret affair. Fawad Khan owns every scene he appears in with the intensity and confidence of a star-in-the-making.
The eldest member among them is no longer Ashirwad-showering Alok ‘Sanskaari Babuji’ Nath, but Amarjeet Kapoor played by Rishi Kapoor, who sinks his dentures into the meatiest role he could ever hope for. Rishi Kapoor steals the show with a veteran glee, using iPad and cutout of Mandakini from Ram Teri Ganga Maili as props in tow, leaving the audience in splits. The actor seems to be enjoying every bit of his role. One can bet that even without prosthetic, he’d have still pulled it off with equal panache.
On the surface, Alia Bhatt seems to serve the purpose of commercial break in this otherwise ‘serious’ film, doing what she does best – look pretty, dance well, take digs at the lead actors, and share a sob story. Dig a bit deeper and you realise that she is an integral part of the narrative. Apart from being one of the lead actor’s love interest, Alia Bhatt’s character also offers an outsider’s perspective to the members of Kapoor & Sons household.
Jeffery F. Bierman beautifully captures the essence of the hill station home, while Shivkumar V. Panicker demonstrates his flair for editing two disparate scenes and pitting them against each other. Writers Shakun Batra and Ayesha Devitre Dhillon lend their characters the realistic touch, but the character of Siddharth Malhotra’s Arjun Kapoor comes out the weakest among them. The character isn’t convincing as a novelist or wannabe novelist, to be precise.
To sum it up, the perfect family portrait of K3G has finally shattered and the Kapoor & Sons home is as messed up as any other home. The fountains at the porch have thankfully been replaced with bursting pipes. The plumber will surely agree.