A Chetan Bhagat novel is akin to reading a screenplay. You start visualizing the characters, the occurrences and episodes, the myriad emotions… like it were occurring in front of your eyes. What also makes Bhagat’s novella interesting are its characters and the fact that they are hugely identifiable since they are based in India.
After ‘one night @ the call center’ [HELLO] and ‘five point someone’ [3 IDIOTS], the author’s much-talked-about novel ‘the 3 mistakes of my life’ gets picked up for the big screen adaptation called KAI PO CHE. So what does the title [KAI PO CHE] mean, a question I have been asked more than a few times by cineastes. Translated simply, it’s a call of triumph in Gujarati, when one kite flier cuts another’s kite. Besides sounding different to the ears, the title metaphorically suits the premise of the story that’s set in Gujarat. And how close is the motion picture to the much-acclaimed novel? Well, the episodes and characters are the same, except that Abhishek Kapoor tweaks and fine-tunes it [adapted for the screen by Pubali Chaudhuri, Supratik Sen, Abhishek Kapoor, Chetan Bhagat], since the medium is cinema.
KAI PO CHE cannot be slotted in any particular genre, in my opinion. It depicts unconditional friendship, it portrays bromance as well as romance, it illustrates politics, it exemplifies the passion for a sport [cricket], it talks of the events that unfolded in Gujarat [earthquake, Godhra massacre and the riots]. Multi genres, you could say. But, at heart, KAI PO CHE remains an emotional saga of three friends and how it stands the test of time. Very similar in spirit to the director’s previous outing ROCK ON!, Farhan Akhtar’s DIL CHAHTA HAI and Zoya Akhtar’s ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA, yet different.
In KAI PO CHE, Abhishek brings alive the characters and events most persuasively. He borrows from the novel, but at the same time adds a lot to it with his deft execution. Resultantly, what emerges is a movie that evokes myriad emotions in the viewer. You smile, chuckle, get anxious and jittery, also moist eyed on several junctures. Attention-grabbing in entirety, absorbing you into its world from the onset itself, KAI PO CHE blends fiction and facts dexterously, recreating a story on celluloid that’s credible and noteworthy.
KAI PO CHE narrates the story of three friends and is based in the city of Ahmedabad. The plot sees a young boy in Ahmedabad named Govind [Rajkumar Yadav] dream of starting a business. To accommodate his friends Ishaan [Sushant Singh Rajput] and Omi’s [Amit Sadh] passion, cricket, they open a cricket goods and training shop. However, each has a different motive: Govind’s goal is to make money; Ishaan desires to nurture Ali, a gifted batsman; Omi just wants to be with his friends. The events that transpire against the backdrop of all that occurred in the city during that time change the lives of each of the friends in very different ways.
Abhishek Kapoor has the trappings of a first-rate storyteller — a fact that was evident in his first two endeavors [ARYAN, ROCK ON!]. In several ways, ROCK ON! and KAI PO CHE are analogous, yet divergent. While ROCK ON! was urban and metro-centric in terms of content, KAI PO CHE has the raw emotional appeal of three middle class guys that strikes a chord with just about anybody and everybody. In any case, a film like KAI PO CHE is damn difficult to make. It has several layers and sub-plots… a bigger canvas actually. And like I pointed out at the outset, it encompasses not just the story of three friends, but also real incidents that send a shiver down your spine.
Abhishek gets out of the comfort zone to attempt a daringly different movie. Also, with KAI PO CHE, the supremely talented craftsman takes giant strides as a film-maker. What’s truly credible is the fact that he doesn’t follow the rules or diktats prescribed by his peers in Bollywood. Instead, he charters a path that’s pure and uncontaminated. Also, he opts for relative newcomers this time [casting director: Mukesh Chhabra], which could’ve boomeranged if the actors were incapable of infusing life in their respective characters.
After ROCK ON!, which had a lilting soundtrack, KAI PO CHE too has a winning musical score, composed by the inimitable Amit Trivedi. The songs are uncomplicated and mirror the spirit of the film wonderfully. More importantly, it’s an unadulterated Indian soundtrack, not a cacophony of tunes put together to western beats. Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics are poignant and leave an impression. The background score [Hitesh Sonik] is subtle where required, but electrifying when necessary. Anay Goswamy’s cinematography is top notch, capturing the emotions as well as the rustic atmosphere to perfection.
The three pivotal parts, enacted effortlessly by Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkumar Yadav and Amit Sadh, are the heartbeats of the enterprise. Sushant is a terrific actor, is blessed with wonderful screen presence and gets the timing of his character right. I see tremendous potential in him! Rajkumar Yadav has proved his credentials in the past and shines yet again in a role that’s in sharp contrast to the other two characters. He’s excellent! Amit Sadh is another remarkable talent to watch out for. Sure, he too has a couple of films to his credit, but his performance in this film will make people notice him. Besides, their on-screen camaraderie is truly infectious. Amrita Puri leaves a strong impression in a movie that’s an all-boys’ show predominantly.
The supporting cast is equally super. Manav Kaul is magnificent, taking his character to another level. Asif Basra does a splendid job. Digvijay Deshmukh [as Ali] is a revelation. He’s incredible!
On the whole, KAI PO CHE is brimming with solid content. Watch it for the spirit it is made in. Watch it because it’s the kind of cinema that pushes the boundaries. Watch it because movies like KAI PO CHE need to be encouraged. A film that deserves an ovation!