Tag Archives: Shakun Batra

Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (2016)

Kapoor&Sons4 Stars (out of 4)

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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.


Movie Review: Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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It’s a bad sign when the words “The Beginning” appear on screen at the end of a movie, just before the closing credits roll. If this is only “the beginning,” what was I watching for the last two hours? It’s a cop-out.

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (“One of Me and One of You”) ends with “The Beginning.” It’s disappointing because the first 95% of the movie is really, really good. I enjoyed myself so much while watching it that the lame way the story concludes made it feel like I had the rug pulled out from under me.

Let me focus on the good first, which is nearly every part of the movie. The protagonist in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET, henceforth) is Rahul (Imran Khan), the average son of snobby parents who routinely make it clear that he is a disappointment. When he loses his job at a Las Vegas architecture firm, he elects not to tell them.

Rahul meets fun-loving Riana (Kareena Kapoor), a similarly unemployed hairstylist. Since they are both alone on Christmas Eve, Rahul reluctantly agrees to let Riana take him out on the town. They get drunk and get married.

The next morning, they amicably agree to get their marriage annulled. Again reluctantly, Rahul lets broke, disorganized Riana stay in his meticulously clean apartment. Friendship blossoms as Rahul finally finds in Riana someone who does not think he’s a failure.

There’s little conflict in Rahul and Riana’s relationship, but that’s a good thing. They are both nice people, their only faults being that Rahul is overly fearful of making mistakes and Riana a bit oblivious to her more annoying habits. From Raina, Rahul gets the validation he’s never gotten from his parents, and Raina is happy to make him happy.

Khan and Kapoor are completely charming and succeed in making Rahul and Riana realistic characters. Their restraint adds to the movie’s humor: Khan gets more laughs out of a single raised eyebrow than any of the frantic, screaming characters in the Housefull 2 promo that preceded EMAET. Debutant director Shakun Batra gets the tone exactly right for a romantic comedy.

As much as I appreciate a movie that resists the urge to force conflict into a story, about three-fourths of the way into EMAET, I started to wonder, “What’s the catch?” Rahul and Raina can’t just stroll into their happily ever after, can they? Is she hiding something? Will he compromise his new self-confidence to placate his parents?

When the hiccup in Rahul & Riana’s otherwise perfect relationship finally arises, it does so without enough time left in the film to adequately deal with it. Hence “The Beginning.” It’s a profoundly unsatisfying conclusion, especially since all of the signs pointed to the adorable couple getting their tidy “happily ever after.”

I admire filmmakers who take risks with their storytelling — though audiences do have certain expectations of rom-coms released in time for Valentine’s Day — but the risks have to feel warranted. The ultimate resolution to Rahul & Riana’s story feels unrealistic and unfair. I wanted a better ending for characters I’d come to like so much.