In India, cricket is a religion. And religion, as in Religion, is all over the place. Kai Po Che reflects on the passionate fervour associated with Cricket and the possessive zealousness that sprouts out of Faith-Mongers in the country. But the film's heart, beats for an endearing friendship between three friends that goes through its share of ebbs-n-flows. As a viewer you are treated to an effortless brilliance, for you get gripped because of the story and the way its told. No known names in the starcast out here but the three young boys are surely going to stun you with their variety and completely contrasting body languages.
Kai Po Che is based on Chetan Bhagat's best selling novel Three Mistakes Of My Life. It is difficult to dissociate the book from the film. A book has the liberty to unfold at its own pace justifying the various contexts while the film is bound by time limitations. The tough part must have been the screenplay for the film. The writing team of Abhishek Kapoor, Chetan Bhagat, Pubali Chaudhuri and Supratik Sen must have gone through many sessions before arriving at the final draft. The climax (Gujarat riots and the madness associated with it) in the film is far more toned down than what it is in the novel. The film focuses on the friendship and the turmoil that it goes through. The film also gives out a positive message on the genuine need for communal harmony in the country.
At a very critical juncture in the film, Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) comes to know that his best friend Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) is having an affair with his sister. The mood of the film suddenly changes with a slap and then it gets back on the tracks of mad frenzy. The 2001 Gujarat earthquake unites everyone in tragedy but there were some who hit a discordant note of communalism. India's historic victory against Australia in 2001 erupts the whole nation and the tricolour cements a Friendship. Omi (Amit Sadh) deviates towards the devious activities of his uncle to payback a loan and then gets sucked into the politics of unfortunate circumstances. Ishaan wants to shrug off the cricketing failure from his back by mentoring prodigious Ali. Vidya (Amrita Puri) is supposed to learn Maths from Govind but instead ends up sharing some chapters of Biology with him. The writing team has picked up crafty vignettes of important situations from the novel and have nicely blended them in the film.
Somehow, the filmmakers need to rise above stereotyping various communities. The red tilak on Omi's forehead and Ali's scull cap symbolises their respective religions. Moreover, the tacky green amulet tied around Ali's neck is an eyesore. Other than this, the detailing in the film is brilliant. Govind wears cost effective sooti shirts which goes well with the enterprising Gujarati businessmen who value making-money rather than splurging it on themselves. The Nokia mobile phones and the ringtones are so 2001. The sepia colour tone used to establish the flashback, sets the mood perfectly. Dialogue are laced with wit, irony, pain and helplessness.
Amit Trivedi's music and Swanand Kirkire's lyrics are a big highpoint of the film. Roothe khwabon ko mana lenge, kati patangon ko thaamenge, suljha lenge uljhe rishton ka maanjha. The endeavour to simplify personal relationships and the attempt to bridge gaps between religions should be the way forward. Meethi Boliyan is very special. Anay Goswami's cinematography is captivating. The fidgety camera movement in some situations actually conveys the mood of the moment. Deepa Bhatia's editing relies on simple editing chops. The languid pace of the film lets you settle down comfortably in the narrative of the film. Some may find the pace a wee bit slow. Usage of Gujarati is required by the context of the film and doesn't hamper the flow at all. It is easy to understand by the Hindi speaking audience.
The three boys, Sushant Singh Rajput, Raj Kumar Yadav and Amit Sadh have given towering performances. Sushant is a rockstar. The casual gait, the natural style and an inherent earnestness is fascinating. The usually-tough-dude succumbs to pressure and requests friend Govind to come and be with him during a tricky situation. Raj Kumar Yadav is undoubtedly one of the finest talents that we have today. This actor played the reckless letch to perfection in Ragini MMS and here he plays the demure conscientious youngster with an amazing finesse. Watch him scold the autorickshaw driver while he nervously interacts with Amrita Puri or the helpless rage that vents out when Ishaan steals business money to help Ali or the desolate emptiness that manifests when their shop withers out during the earthquake. Amit Sadh shows the maximum growth as a character in the film. The boy who follows and supports Ishaan in whatever he does to a man who turns away from his best friends and ends up doing something drastic that changes lives forever. Watch the stunned silence when he hears the news of his parents' death or when the devil shakes out the angel from his heart during the communal violence. Amrita Puri is cute and very likable.
Abhishek Kapoor has proved that Rock On was not a fluke and most certainly he is a man who knows what he's doing. Obviously he has invested a lot of time, energy and thought in making this film. You know a film is great when it stops pretending to be a film. It becomes an experience of a lifetime. Kai Po Che does that to you. It is hugely watchable. Again and again.
Star Rating: ****