Kapoor & Sons represents the coming of age of melodrama in Hindi cinema. A mature and balanced film on relationships, from a production house like Dharma (which has previously given us weepy dramas such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna) is a significant achievement. This evolution is worthy of accolade and the intent is laudable.
Amid the surprise, furor and hullabaloo surrounding this movie hides a distinctly unruffled Shakun Batra. His debut film, as a director, went largely unnoticed possibly because of an unbearably incompetent cast. However, the deftness with which he handled a theme like friendzone deserves approbation. When the rest of the industry repeatedly banged home one-dimensional dynamics between men and women onscreen, Batra fearlessly bared the realities of the friendzone. Ambitious as it was, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu lacked in attainment, subsequently bombing at the box-office. Four years on, Batra has ensured that he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes.
With Kapoor & Sons, Batra showcases a family plagued with complications. Admittedly, there are problems and situations in the Kapoor khandaan that each one of us can relate too, but the sheer weight of their problems, collectively, is inescapably worrying. The plethora of problems and the dysfunctional nature of this family notwithstanding, Kapoor & Sons seems strangely relevant to us.
The director has kept over-the-top, theatrical nonsense far away from the execution of the script. Each of the characters was begging to be caricatured, stereotyped and put in a box. Yet, they blossom, evolve and unravel new shades to their personality becoming increasingly human in depiction. There are no good guys or bad guys. No black or white – just flawed people who are wrestling with their imperfections.
The tedious tempo is apparent at times, frustrating viewers who are accustomed to a peppier pace. At a run-time of 132 minutes, the movie is unreasonably long. Perhaps, that is the singular drawback of the film, apart from the implausible turn of events that invoke gloom upon the family in the second half.
Music in the film is used responsibly, with the rare exception of ‘Chull’ coming across as being force-fitted into the narration. The songs don’t jar the flow of the film and are quite pleasing to the ear.
The performances in the film are of the highest order. No one, apart from Rishi Kapoor, is performing outside their comfort zone. Each one, including the severely limited Siddharth Malhotra, brings an unrestrained brilliance to their roles. Their situations might demand hysteria, but they never resort to theatrics as a solution. Due credit must be given to the entire cast and Batra for ensuring that the performances never become over-dramatic, even if the narration might flirt with those boundaries.
All in all, Kapoor & Sons is a cheerfully excellent film. Watch it alone, with your friends or your family. You could watch it with all of them separately too. This film is unlikely to bore you on multiple viewings. It’s just that good.