Kapoor & Sons
Director: Shakun Batra
Starring: Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Rajat Kapoor
When you’re told that a family drama is coming from producer Karan Johar, you expect the emotions to come thick and fast. You also expect big, over the top, this-doesn’t-happen-to-normal-people plot-lines.
Thankfully Kapoor & Sons refrains from doing so, this time around.
The movie starts with the Kapoor family assembling in the family home after five years apart, the reason being grandpa Amarjeet Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor) had a heart attack.
From the get-go, we’re made aware of the tension underlying the formerly close relationship between brothers Rahul (Fawad Khan) and Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra).
Their parents, Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) and Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) have their own problems: disappointment at unfulfilled ambitions, marital suspicions and a financial instability.
Basically, the Kapoor family are no Brady Bunch and are one argument way from permanent damage. The members are aware of this; each one treads carefully with non confrontation being the family rule.
The Kapoors’ splintered and often forced togetherness is a refreshingly honest portrayal of what many an urban middle class family looks like in India.
They fret about medical expenses, keep up pretences, go on dates and become awkwardly nostalgic. All the while, however, director Shakun Batra and screenwriter Ayesha Devitre Dhillon do a skilful job in piling on plenty of stressors on each of the characters.
The cast respond to the rich material with fine performances. Each actor unpacks their character’s motivations at a resonating pace.
Malhotra, as the jealous younger brother Arjun makes you want to envelop him in a tight hug.
But even while you’re feeling protective for the younger sibling, you can’t get yourself to dislike the older Rahul, played with class by Fawad Khan.
Your heart will ache when you see his poise cracking, bit by bit, as he struggles under the weight of being mama’s perfect child.
Shah is, expectedly, brilliant as the mother trying to hold it all together and sometimes making a complete mess of it; while Rajat Kapoor is exceptional in his portrayal of a father tired of feeling like a failure.
Rishi Kapoor, who as the 90-year-old grandfather is barely recognisable under all the prosthetics, is also a hoot as he cracks inappropriate jokes without sounding too contrived.
Alia Bhatt, as Tia, returns in a role she’s well-versed with — a carefree young woman with a sad backstory — but she manages to make it endearing yet again.
From a love triangle involving Tia and the brothers to one harbouring an explosive secret, the simmering resentment eventually reaches a boiling point; however, you wish the theatrics had been dialled down a bit during the eventual climax.
For a film trying so hard to stay grounded in reality, what are the odds that everyone’s truths and skeletons come tumbling out of the wardrobe at exactly the same moment?
Fortunately, the setback doesn't totally offset what is an engrossing scriptthat allows Kapoor & Sons to stand out from among other Bollywood family dramas in recent times.