Kai Po Che! movie review: Male bonding, poignant and life-altering

After Rock On!! Abhishek (Gattu) Kapoor has made a lovely little film with three young men – Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh and Raj Kumar Yadav – cricket and politics

Remember a small movie with a big soul called Rock On!!? It starred a very hairy bunch of young men – Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny and Purab Kohli – who make music that has the whole nation rocking to their strums. This happy bunch, angst and all, made their director very happy with box office success. So obviously that director had many sets of eyes…err…directed on him when he announced his next film, another movie that seemed small, with actors not hugely well known in Hindi cinema.

Abhishek Kapoor brings together Sushant Singh Rajput, demi-God of the small screen, Amit Sadh, TV star and player of minor roles in films, and Raj Kumar Yadav of Love, Sex Aur Dhokha fame in Kai Po Che! – and what a team this one is! It is a bromance with a dash of hatke attitude, no luxury cars, no designer clothes and no wonderfully happy ending. And yet, it is full of joy, full of light, easy to digest and capable of making you cheer, “Kai po che!” as you would when you fly a kite successfully.

Kai Po Che! tells the tale of three friends who grow up in the small town atmosphere of Ahmedabad in the early 2000s. The film traces contemporary history in the area, recalling the terror of the destructive Gujarat earthquake of 2001, religious celebration darkened by intolerance, political seesaw-swings and manipulation and much more. All this works to create rifts in the togetherness of the three young men, pushing their grand plan of building a sports academy off the rails.

Ishaan Bhatt (Ish, played by Sushant) is a superb cricketer who cannot take his passion for the sport to a lucrative professional level, Omkar Shastri (Omi, played by Amit Sadh), the son of a priest who lives his lives by the rules his father sets, and Govind (Govind Patel, played by Raj Kumar Yadav), who is as shrewd a businessman as ever lived, battle the odds to make their dream come true, all with very little money and plenty of hope. Omi’s uncle helps out, his canny politician mind calculating the potential of the situation and of his nephew and scheming to manipulate both to suit his purpose. And when Ishaan starts coaching a talented young Muslim boy to play cricket, you just know how things are going to go – at which point you need to bring out the hankies!

Then the earthquake happens, followed a year later by the Gujarat riots. There is blood colouring the communal divide and you hold your breath waiting for tragedy…and you get it. The riots of 2002 burst on to the screen with terrifying realism as you watch the shattering of a city, a nation, a world and three bonded hearts. Each image is captured beautifully and the crisp editing keeps it moving along without losing any of the momentum needed for a film of this sort. The love story between Govind and Omi’s sister Vidya (Amrita Puri) is hardly necessary; the closeness between the three lads is enough emotional bonding for this story.

Many may dislike Chetan Bhagat’s writing, reviling it as trite and amateurish. But his book, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, as it has been adapted to make Kai Po Che!, is a perfect story for a film like this one. The actors bring each character to life so delicately, deliberately, delightfully, that they are them, no acting required. Of course, there is fabulous music by Amit Trivedi, fabulous cinematography by Anay Goswami, fabulous characterisation, but all that has come about because of the fabulous direction. Abhishek Kapoor, please make your next film soon!

Rating: 4 out of 54 Star Rating

Reviewed by BollywoodLife

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