Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Kai Po Che: Boy bonding at its best
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Reuters)
I have to confess I haven’t read Chetan Bhagat‘s “The 3 Mistakes of my Life“, the novel on which Abhishek Kapoor‘s film “Kai Po Che” is based. Opinion is divided on the novel, but if it had the material to make a film such as this one, it can’t be bad.
Friendship, politics and sports come together in this two-hour film, and despite the assured acting, the sparkling cinematography (Anay Goswami) and Amit Trivedi‘s lilting music score, it is Kapoor and his control over this film and the obvious affection he has for these characters that shines through.
Goswami’s sepia-tinted lens opens to show us Ishaan, Govi and Omi, three friends living in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It’s the turn of the new millennium and the trio are eager to start their own business — a sports equipment store that also houses a cricket academy in its backyard.
Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) the charming, impulsive one is a former cricketer who now coaches kids at the academy and spots Ali, a reticent boy who has a natural flair for batting.
They take Ali under their wing, coaxing his father into sending him for coaching because Ishaan is convinced he will be a star one day. But a business and an academy needs more than just talent — it needs capital. So when the time comes to expand the business, they turn to Omi’s (Amit Sadh) uncle, a local politician who agrees to fund their venture, on the condition that Omi enrols himself in the party.
To give away any more plot points would be doing injustice. In any case, this is one of those films where the story is not as important as its treatment. Kapoor tells his story with much feeling, but never goes overboard. The characters, their actions and interactions with each other feel extremely natural and even though the ending seems a little contrived and simplistic, you don’t mind because the inherent charm of the film glosses over these flaws.
One of the high points is the chemistry between the three leads — Raj Kumar Yadav, Singh and Sadh play off each another beautifully and it’s the scenes with all three that are the best (Watch out for scene atop a bus). This is boy bonding at its best and without expensive Spanish locales.
If there is one false note in “Kai Po Che”, it’s Amrita Puri who plays Vidya, Ishaan’s sister and Govi’s love interest. She’s cloyingly sweet and her fluttering eyelashes and coy expressions are completely out of place in what is otherwise a very understated film.
But there is so much good acting here that it’s easy to ignore Puri. Manav Kaul as the manipulative politician and Digvijay Deshmukh as the shy child prodigy are subtle and effective. The three leads are of course exceptional, but Raj Kumar Yadav and Sushant Singh Rajput stand out — they are Govi and Ishaan.
Don’t miss “Kai Po Che” — it’s a warm film that speaks much about friendship in the troubled times we live in.