As a young actor Rishi Kapoor was written off as a chocolate box, singing and dancing types- often cast as the younger brother or friend of the main lead.
But as an 90 year old in Kapoor and sons, he just totally romps home- the prosthetics are fantastic, ageing him perfectly, with the liver spots, blotchy skin and patchy hair. The best effects are the watery eyes just right for the age. And Rishi Kapoor is just perfect as the grandfather who is practicing how to die perfectly. The crankiness towards the nurses, the sarcastic comments about his family, the love for his grandchildren and even the sleazy references are endearing. And he wants the perfect family photograph
But Kapoor and sons is not about a seriously ill 90 year old trying to get his family happy. Kapoor and sons is about a family who have their issues, who love and hate the others, who go to lengths to make their ailing father and grandfather happy.
Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak Shah are just unbelievably natural as a couple whose marriage is rocky, the references to an affair, the bickering and tension of a middle class home with a tight budget is done so well- you forget they are acting.
Fawad Khan as the “perfect” son, the parents proud of his achievements, charming, trying to patch things up between the parents, trying to help his younger brother, coping with a writer’s block.
Sidharth Malhotra the younger brother, who has not held a job for more than a few months, his ambition to become a writer, his anger with his parents for not valuing him, his underlying sense of not measuring up and outrage that his brother had stolen “his” idea.
The banter between the brothers and their drag out fights, the hurtful things that only someone who loves you can say without thinking, the family that loves and hates, but tries to come together for an old man.
Alia Bhatt, a free spirited young woman, who is trying to sell her house, dealing with her own sad past, her honesty in wanting to tell a young man who she cares about that she kissed his older brother, she drinks, smokes and does pot but still has a moral compass.
While Rajat Kapoor & Ratna Pathak are seasoned performers, it is the younger actors who step up and hold their own. Fawad Khan, effortlessly charming and intense, Siddharth does not launch into speeches about his childhood or rant away- his underplaying of the wronged son, the simmering sense of injustice are done well. Alia Bhatt just gets better with every movie, the outwardly cheerful and bubbly young woman- she mentions her dead parents and lack of family, but not to generate pity or sympathy or cry at the drop of a hat. Her comic timing and face are perfect!
All 3 of them are effortless in their performances, but it is the script and direction lift this movie from being another family drama to a different level.
The writing and dialogues are natural, you can almost sense them echoing from your family, the direction keeps it real- the house is not perfect, its messy and chipped. Even more impressive, all these beautiful people with drop dead gorgeous looks, manage to look real and not as if they are acting.
Siddharth’s tears feel right, Fawad’s inner turmoil don’t look over the top and Alia could be your college buddy….
The restraint is evident- when Rahul confesses to being gay, his mother does not collapse in a heap and say “nahi, yeh tumne kya kiya”. When Harsh is confronted with his infidelity, he does not grovel theatrically- Arjun does not rail and rant at Tia or get on his knees breaking into a song- no one is suddenly in the Alps dancing away or a rustic gypsy turns up with a song group. Arjun does not hug his Rahul when he confesses to being gay, more like the rest of us, he says “I don’t know what to say”
The Dadu is so real, you want to adopt him, his jokes, his occasional emotional blackmail and the love that exudes from his grandsons and his affection for his daughter in law are just relatable.
The screenplay is tight, moving effortlessly from the Dadu to boys track, without feeling hacked. The infidelity and homosexuality are sensitively dealt with, so happy that Bollywood has finally found the balls to portray a good looking lead as gay and not typecast or made it look silly or sleazy.
But like it happens with good intentions, Shakun Batra gets slightly carried away, letting some of the scenes go for a tad longer than needed. Some the story could have been implied rather than shown- like the cemetery date was 6 minutes of beautiful people and not much else. And the last scene with the photo was pure drama- however we can forgive…
But mostly, impressed with Karan Johar for restraining himself from turning this into a mega soap!!