Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (2016)

Kapoor&Sons4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the movie at Amazon or iTunes
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

Kapoor & Sons packs enough of an emotional wallop to leave one reeling. It’s going to be tough to beat when the Best of 2016 rankings come out.

The Kapoor family — father Harsh (Rajat Kapoor), mother Sunita (Ratna Pathak), elder son Rahul (Fawad Khan), and younger son Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) — reunite at the bedside of ailing patriarch Amarjeet (Rishi Kapoor) when he suffers a heart attack just before his 90th birthday. The birthday provides a reason for the boys to linger for a few days in their childhood home.

All of the undercurrents of tension between the family members surface as soon as the boys come home. Harsh and Sunita are shorter with one another than they used to be, though they fall back into old patterns with their sons. Rahul is the golden boy, his room a shrine to his accomplished youth. Perpetual screw-up Arjun finds his bedroom re-purposed as his mom’s closet, overrun with purses and exercise equipment.

There’s trouble between the boys, too. Rahul waits for his brother to grow up, while Arjun harbors resentment toward Rahul, not just for his exalted status but by a suspicion that it may have come at Arjun’s expense. None of these concerns are addressed openly, leaving wounds to fester.

Two people make the trip home worthwhile. First, Grandpa Amarjeet, whose abundant love for his grandsons only grows when they teach him how to watch pornography on his iPad. Second, Tia (Alia Bhatt): a fun-loving neighbor who meets the boys separately and charms them both.

Kapoor & Sons is beautifully balanced, with funny moments juxtaposed against serious revelations. Writer-director Shakun Batra and co-writer Ayesha Devitre Dhillon set the perfect tempo, allowing subplots and relationships to develop at a pace that never feels rushed.

Behind all of the action is a beautiful, evocative score by Sameer Uddin. Of all the film’s wonderful qualities, the score may be the very best.

The acting in Kapoor & Sons is top-notch, the whole cast striking the right tone under Batra’s direction. Ratna Pathak and Rajat Kapoor are so strong as a couple whose marriage suffers after their kids have grown up and moved out. It’s wonderful to watch Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra grow as young actors.

Fawad Khan is hypnotic. His acting is graceful and grounded and stands out even when compared to the film’s other great performances.

Rishi Kapoor is terrific as well, equal parts funny and moving as an old man who just wants his family to be happy again. His makeup and prosthetics (designed by Greg Cannom) age the 63-year-old Kapoor effectively, without being distracting.

Two supporting performances of note belong to Sukant Goel as Arjun’s pal Wasim and Fahim Shaikh as Wasim’s bodybuilding brother, Boobly, who steals every scene he’s in.

Batra’s directorial debut Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu showed a ton of promise, though it was marred by a frustrating ending. Those frustrations are nowhere to be found in Kapoor & Sons, a mature, satisfying film. Well done.


34 thoughts on “Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (2016)

  1. Paul Smithson

    Having a 3.5 to see (Neerja) the other week and now a 4 out of 4 to go see this week – awesome! I was going to go see it tonight, but figured my wife would like it and she is away at the moment, so – me being the good husband that I am – I went to see something else instead. I’m now glad I did as your review Kathy confirmed my thoughts that this is going to be quite some movie. Once we’ve seen it I’ll comment more. In the meantime I’ll just give a heads-up for Ardaas, which is what I went to see instead. It is a Punjabi film, and well worth seeing if it is showing anywhere near you.

    1. Kathy

      That was so nice of you, Paul. Really hope both you and your wife enjoy it (and I think you will). Thanks for the heads up about Ardaas. One theater near me picked up that and Love Punjab for this weekend after both movies did so well in their opening weekend in the US.

  2. Amin

    I normally don’t watch Hindi movies in the theater, but your sterling review might just push me over the edge on this one. If you recall, Kathy, towards the beginning of the year, in another thread, you were wondering which Hindi movies releasing this quarter would be successful at the BO; I had responded (among others) that Airlift and K&S looked like the only contenders among the list. Looks like I should be playing the lottery more often.

  3. Anushka

    Was not really blown away by the trailer but it looked good. Now after your recommendation catching it right away, I love family dramas. Btw surprised that you found Ek main aur ek tu’s ending frustrating. I thought the ending was so refreshing for a rom-com and from any of the ones I have ever seen, that I fell in love with the film.

    1. Kathy

      This is a really good one, Anuskha. Hope you enjoy it! Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu drove me CRAZY, so I was delighted to see the director hit it out of the park on his second effort.

  4. Yogesh


    Just happened to read your review on Kapoor and Sons by chance. Watched the movie a short while ago and I quite liked it. That prompted me to see what the ‘critics’ feel about it. Came across your blog while checking out some online reviews and I must say it’s commendable to see your passion for Bollywood movies given that you are a Caucasian and don’t speak hindi. Liked your assessment of the movie and your writing style – to the point, uncomplicated and honest. Hope you do manage to watch some older hindi movies as well and I’d recommend Jaane Bhi Do Yaron (it’s a cult classic), unless of course you have seen it already. Thanks!

    1. Kathy

      Thanks for the kind words, Yogesh, and welcome to the site! I do love cult classics — hence my frequent Gunda references — so I’ll keep Jaane Bhi Do Yaron in mind. 🙂

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  7. Siddharth Tilwankar

    Hi ,

    I felt that movie had a few loose moments (*edited by Kathy to remove spoilers*, Tia’s parents history which did not serve much purpose to the film).
    But overall an understated Bollywood family drama with no OTT scenes.I never thought I would write the preceding sentence for a mainstream film !
    And wow , what performances especially Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak.
    But what takes the cake in the film are inside jokes , the segment about Mandakini ( she was the actress in the film directed by Rishi Kapoor’s father and produced by RK banner) , the second being of the first family photograph where both brothers are standing apart and the photographer remarks is the space between you two kept for drawing the India Pakistan border( Fawad Khan is from Pakistan)

    1. Kathy

      I removed a couple of your examples to avoid giving away the end of the movie, but I see your point, Siddharth. Totally agree about Tia’s backstory, too. I’d have liked to see her character fleshed out a little more. Thanks for the info about Mandakini. How clever!

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