Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
We are Family: Pretty shallow
Before I get to talking about the film, I have one question about “We are Family” and films like it — why is it that they are invariably based in foreign countries and feature designer clothes, homes and even designer deaths?
To me, this film could well have been based in Mumbai, have had the same characters and it wouldn’t have made any difference to the story or screenplay. Even a person in the last stages of terminal illness has full make-up on.
Which is one of the biggest problems of the film — everything about it is so cosmetic, even the emotions, that it’s hard to be touched by anything. Based on the 1998 Hollywood film “Stepmom”, the only Indian-ness the script has is to insert clichés about what an ideal Indian woman should be.
Kajol plays Maya, the “ideal Indian mother” who, besides a passing reference to her job in publishing, does nothing besides fuss around her three kids. Her ex-husband Aman (Arjun Rampal) is in love with fashion designer Shreya (Kareena Kapoor) but all attempts to get his kids to like her are in vain.
When Maya discovers she has terminal cancer, Aman decides to go back to help her. Maya decides that isn’t enough and wants Shreya to help out with the kids, telling her that every Indian woman comes with a motherhood gene.
If this motherhood gene means you take your pre-teen kids to a karaoke pub, where there are people drinking alchohol and the parents are on stage dancing to ‘Jailhouse Rock’ while the kids watch, who are we to question it?
Director Sidharth Malhotra plays too safe and doesn’t explore any of the dynamics of a household that has two women fighting for a man and his children. Also, Rampal and the kids put in such a watered-down performance compared to the two women, you wonder why they are fighting for them in the first place.
Both Kajol and Kareena Kapoor, however, are excellent in what can only be called stunted roles. Kareena especially brings such an energy to Shreya’s character that you immediately connect with her.
“We are Family” is at best a pretty but shallow film.