Reviewing the Reviews: Kai Po Che

25 Feb,2013

Kai Po Che

Key Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh, Rajkumar Yadav, Amrita Puri

Directed By: Abhishek Kapoor

Screenplay By: Abhishek Kapoor, Pubali Chaudhari, Supratik Sen, Chetan Bhagat

Produced By: Ronnie Screwvala , Siddharth Roy Kapur


Abhishek Kapoor did the near-impossible, got Chetan Bhagat good reviews, if only for the adaptation of his novel – and how critics hate his books!


Kai Po Che also did something more courageous – it is a well-promoted film without a single star. Maybe a whole lot of factors joined together to fetch it many four stars, and nothing less than three stars. Many felt it stopped short of being an exceptional film, but when the competition is with Brainless Bollywood, every little act of rebellion counts.


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror raved over it, but also lamented, “Kai Po Che is interesting at many levels, deftly executed, and a film born out of conviction. It could’ve ended up as a modern classic, a fitting film for Dil Chahta Hai to pass the mantle over to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver to potential and ends up merely ‘good’.”


Anupama Chopra of The Hindustan Times found the film flawed but also deeply satisfying. “Abhishek Kapoor’s biggest accomplishment is that he and his writers have created three full-bodied characters – these boys, with their towering ambitions and aching vulnerability, are people you and I know. And then, most critically, he has also found three wonderful actors who inhabit the characters wholly. Sushant, Raj Kumar and Amit become Ishaan, Govind and Omi. Their lack of stardom works in their favour (though I’m fervently hoping that post release, each one becomes a sought-after star). We believe them. We partake in their joys and struggles. Kai Po Che! is beautifully shot by Anay Goswamy but it’s not glossy. You can almost feel the sweat and dust of the narrow lanes.”


Rajeev Masand of IBNLive gushed, “At a crisp two hours, Kai Po Che is enriched by its sweeping score and by Kapoor’s deft handling of the film’s varied moods. For evidence of his considerable growth as a director one needn’t look much further than the palpable dread he infuses into scenes of an angry Hindutva mob storming a Muslim ghetto, and the light-handed touch he brings to the portions of the three friends goofing around. Kapoor tackles sensitive issues like the Gujarat riots with equanimity and empathy, and Anay Goswamy’s terrific camerawork complements the director’s vision intuitively.”


Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express was kind too, “Kapoor’s Rock On had its moments, and I liked it, but Kai Po Che is so much better, despite its tired saffron-and-trishul-infused scenes, as well as those that show the too-familiar bloody rampage through the terrified-Muslim-housing-colony. This film rises beautifully above its faults. It does not allow simplicity to descend into simple-mindedness, as it transmits real emotions, and gives space to a stand-out performer.”


Vinayak Chakravorty of India Today commented, “We are looking at New Bollywood, evolving exactly as it should. Stirringly topical, solid in the comment it leaves, and yet never losing focus on the classic entertainment formula that has forever driven our commercial cinema. What’s more, it sets the stage for three new exciting talents in the bargain too. That in a nutshell defines Abhishek Kapoor’s new film. Kai Po Che adapts The 3 Mistakes Of My Life, bestseller author Chetan Bhagat’s pop ditty mixing cricket rage with a few quickfix notes on the politics of religion, confusion of youth and questions about coming of age.”


Sanjukta Sharma of Live Mint is cautious in her praise. “It is a simplistic story, naive even, in trying to tackle some big questions. How does a Hindutva-espousing political party get young recruits, and then turn them into zealots? Can a college graduate be entirely oblivious to the implications of the social perceptions and political forces around him? Can cricket really be the cure to all our differences? The film skims over these questions. But it triumphs over the shallow story with well-executed cinematic detail.”


Janhavi Samant of Mid-day wrote, “Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che! is mellow in its mood but loud in its message. It is simple, colourful and vibrant but it doesn’t shirk from portraying the grey, the black and the complex. But most of all, Kai Po Che! doesn’t sit on the fence; it neither shies away from blaming nor from forgiving. And for a Hindi film, that’s quite something.”


Pratim D Gupta of The Telegraph raved, “Sometimes there comes a film so good you are scared to write about it. Scared that you might kill it by writing about it. Because original material so mediocre has been turned into a motion picture so moving that putting it back into words might undo the magic. Abhishek Kapoor has struck, again! And even though this too is about friends and fracas and reunions, Kai Po Che! is not cut from the same manja as Rock On!!. Adapting Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life, Kapoor creates a world that’s innocent yet ominous, friendly yet foreboding. Far, far away from the world of flashy, affluent SoBo (South Bombay) boys strumming their guitars and wooing their girls, to three young hard-working men trying to set up a sports business in trouble-torn Gujarat at the turn of the millennium.”


Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu raved even more, “This is us. The real middle class India. Real people, not stars. Real houses, not sets. Real clothes, not fancy pants. You’ll fall in love with everything about India. And Gujarat. Kai Po Che is everything that Rock On and 3 Idiots were, put together – dreams and aspirations, friendship standing test of time, the pursuit of excellence, a commentary of our education system and a coming-of-age film with not a single moment of dishonesty. We haven’t seen stronger characterisation, economy in words, visuals or time, in recent mainstream films.”


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