Reviewing the Reviews: Utterly charming Alia in ‘2 States’

21 Apr,2014

By Deepa Gahlot


2 States

Directed by: Abhishek Varman

Starring: Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Ronit Roy, Amrita Singh, Revathy, others


Chetan Bhagat’s successful novel about a North-South romance had some insights into urban India, even though the tone was flippant.


The book caught the fancy of young audiences, but bored or exhausted most critics, who are not Bhagat fans to begin with. The ratings ranged from 2- 3, but the praise was grudging. Everyone agreed on one aspect of the film though – the utterly charming Alia Bhatt.


Sudhish Kamath writing in The Hindu gave complete credit to the book. “The movie adaptation of 2 States reiterates why Chetan Bhagat is so successful. His books are like the first draft of screenplays – with a lot of stuff that can be edited out and rewritten – the reason why he is among the most criticised author of our times. But then, his books also tell us stories of a middle class India and its values – a country on the cusp of change and dealing with it in a way we can relate to – the reason why he is among the most popular storytellers of our times.”


Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express commented, “Pretty Tam Brahm ‘ponnu’ plus ‘hatta katta’ Punjabi munda equals to match made in heaven? If you go by ‘2 States’, yes, but getting to it is long and arduous. The film sets out to be a solid, emotionally satisfying romcom, and goes well for a bit but then turns into a too-stretched-out ‘jhagda’ between the two sets of North-South parents. And the romance gets short shrift.”


Aniruddha Guha of Time Out wrote, “Director Abhishek Varman’s debut film is about parents making peace with the decisions their children make even when they may have something different planned for them.


That’s an interesting premise – not entirely similar to the films we watched growing up, where lovers revolted against families, or spent weeks to sabotage a wedding, or simply eloped. What helps – as with many good films made in Mumbai lately – is the novel take on a conventional story. Hussain Dalal’s dialogues lend the film an air of everyday mundaneness, which is refreshing in a mainstream film.”


Sanjukta Sharma of Mint ranted, “Campus romance, family strife, clash of austere South and profligate North, post-global India neutered to ugliness-Abhishek Varman’s 2 States, like the novel by bestselling author Chetan Bhagat on which it is based, has the ingredients of a profitable primetime TV commodity. Ego clashes of the saas-bahu kind abound in this story. Binod Pradhan’s cinematography makes the big screen adaptation somewhat justifiable, as does Alia Bhatt’s screen persona and performance-she fits perfectly in as the upper middle-class Tamil heroine from Chennai. But the 149-minutes of the film’s running time, swelling with stale North-South attributes, is overstretching the material. This is not the Eighties, and K Balachnader’s Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) can’t represent this great divide. 2 States is more like the Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994) of the 21st century. But the girl speaks up, and speaks sense. The rest is a cosmetically modern middle-class India.”


Saibal Chattejee of complained about the length and pace. “Debutant director Abhishek Varman’s adaptation of Bhagat’s characteristically facile but dispiritingly popular story is at best a pretty looking film with a likeable young lead pair that thrives on staying within their limitations. Talking of limitations, 2 States is hamstrung primarily by the vacuity of its pivotal situations. The film does have some moments of inspiration, like when the hero, armed with four rings, proposes collectively to the girl’s family over lunch. But these are too few and far between to add up to much in the final analysis.


The trouble is that the impending wedding remains impending far too long to sustain interest. Halfway through the second half, one desperately wants the rigmarole to be over and done with.”


Suhani Singh of India Today was disappointed. “2 States appeals, in brief stints, when it looks at the clash in customs and behaviours between the two communities. For instance, when Krish’s mother complains that Ananya’s parents didn’t get her anything while she spent Rs.2,000 to get Ananya’s mom a silk sari, it is amusing and also believable. Tubby-Parik’s background score is exaggerated and often superfluous, offering a mix of bad ringtones and operatic music which doesn’t sync with the events unfolding on screen. It makes it seem that Varman is not confident in the abilities of his leads to pull off the drama. Post the interval, the film almost runs like a maha episode of a melodramatic Indian soap.”


Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN summarized the problem with the film. “Madrasis are dark, Punjabis are cash-obsessed, and never the twain shall meet. Those familiar prejudices make for a legitimate movie pitch, but ‘2 States’, directed by first-timer Abhishek Varman, is a frustrating case of a promising premise that doesn’t fully fructify into a compelling film.”


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