I know it has been awhile since I reviewed any films because of school. However, “Kai Po Che” made me want to post. I just got back from the film and I am still numb.
I read “The Three Mistakes of My Life” in grade twelve. I loved it so much that I pushed my English teacher into allowing me to write my book report on it. The book report entailed writing an essay on a passage from the book which the teacher would choose. My teacher chose the love scene between Govind and Vidya. The political scientist in me was disappointed because the political undertone in the novel are a goldmine for essay writing. Still, the romantic in me was happy. Not to brag but I kicked that report out of the ballpark or should I say the cricket field? Okay, okay I will stop trying to use clever metaphors.
When I heard that the book was being adapted into film by the director of “Rock On!” I was psyched. Initially it was said that actors like Farhan Akhtar and Arjun Rampal were cast to essay the leads. I got even more psyched. Then, I read that the guy from Pavitra Rishta (Sushant Singh Rajput) and two other unknown actors (Amit Sadh and Raj Kumar Yadav) had been cast. I was kind of disappointed and I knew I would still go and see it. That was if it even played. I was doubtful that without any stars the one theatre in my city that plays Hindi movies would even bother. However, I am glad to report that it did play and I LOVED it!
The casting of this film is very close to perfection. I say very close to perfection only because I was disappointed by the casting of Ali’s father. In the book he is a strong character with strong beliefs. He inspires Ishaan’s respect and is a worthy political opponent of Ovi’s Mama. In the film, none of this came across. It may not be the actors fault and it may just be the screenplay writers/director who are to blame. This being said the rest of the casting is FLAWLESS! Yes I was doubtful at first but the three leads won me over and how! Sushant is so natural that it seems as if he was born to play Ishaan. The character requires a charisma but also a reflection of pain that his dreams of playing for India remain unfulfilled. Sushant embodies all this in his portrayal of Ishaan. Bravo Sushant! Meanwhile, Raj Kumar Yadav plays Govind spot on! The way he walks, talks when he is nervous is superb. The earthquake seen is all his. He shines. Lastly, Amit Sadh is marvellous as Omi. The change from the innocent Omi to the politically corrupted Omi is a joy to see on screen because it is so well done. Omi’s blood shot eyes and expressions stay in your mind even after the scene is over. I really cannot see anyone else as Omi. The supporting cast all give great performances. The actor who plays Mamaji is wonderful. Moreover, Amrita Puri as Vidya is so natural. You would never guess a Punjabi girl is playing the Gujrati Vidya. The scene between her and Sushant is especially moving.
No review is complete without taking of the technical aspect of a film. The cinematography is not lavish as is common in Hindi films. It can’t be because that is not what the film needs. Still, the DoP makes the setting look beautiful when it needs to be beautiful and terrifying when it needs to be terrifying. The music is perfection and blends so well into the narrative. The editing is flawless as one scene transitions to another with ease. The screenplay, which is as mentioned earlier, an adaptation of a novel is good. I say good because I didn’t completely like the way the flashback comes about. I wish it had been Govind reminiscing while on his way to pick up Omi. Secondly, while I understand the film cannot encompass the whole book, I wish they had retained the scene when the three friends go to the party event. I loved that scene from the book.
Director Abhishek Kapoor proves yet again that he is very good at what he does. We should all be thankful that this guy gave up acting and pursued direction because otherwise we would not have gotten to see gems like “Rock On!” and “Kai Po Che”. It’s not everyday that a director coming off a film that was both a box office hit and a critically acclaimed film, choses to do a film like Kai Po Che. Firstly, it has political undertones. Secondly, it has a cast of all newcomers. Thirdly, it is neither a full on bromance like ZMND or Dostana nor does it revolve solely on a love story. The love story is there but it is secondary to the story of the three boys. I salute Abhishek Kapoor for taking the risk and not only that but also hitting a sixer with this film. I know a film is good when during that 1-2 minute walk out of the theatre I am still thinking about the movie and not where I parked my car or what time it is. I just get this feeling of numbness. I remember my film studies teacher and I both had a discussion once about what makes a film good. I said then that it is good if it makes you feel something. That something could be making you cry or it could be making you laugh. “Kai Po Che” made me feel so for me it is a good film. A film that deserves to be seen. I like films with political undertones so it made me think, ALOT. Still if you aren’t like me and hate such films you will still like this film because the story of these boys is beautifully touching.
Rating: **** (4stars/5stars)