BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh, Raj Kumar Yadav, Amrita Puri , Ajay Jadeja (Cameo), Gaurav Kapoor (Cameo)
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Dil, Dosti is the stuff Bollywood breathes in, boasts of, and made in bounty! Maybe the older versions relied on melodrama and friendship between two friends; we have Farhan Akhtar to thank for popularizing the trio camaraderie trend with focus on male bonding in an urban milieu. Having directed “Rock On” Abhishek Kapoor is familiar with this genre, and comfortably portrays the characters of” Kai Po Che” without the added burden of superstar casting.
“Kai Po Che”, based on Chetan Bhagat’s “Three mistakes of my life” is a successful amalgamation of three things our nation is truly obsessed and passionate about – Cricket, Romance and Religion. With friendship at its core, the narrative walks us through natural and manmade disasters around the turn of the millennium and the resulting effects on the life and times of three friends from the city of Ahmedabad. Those familiar with Guajarati will certainly know this, given that the title “Kai Po Che” translates to “I cut your kite”, a victorious exclamation by the winner who cuts off the rival’s kite at a kite flying contest.
In an attempt to capitalize their passion, Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput), Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) and Omi (Amit Sadh) venture into business, with a sports equipment store that also provides cricket coaching classes and Math tuitions. Ishaan is temperamental and hot headed with a heart of gold. He once hoped to be on the Indian cricket team and he could have been too, with his talent and dedication to the game. This dream, like many aspiring young cricketers, is squashed, thanks to the politics of selections. An indomitable spirit, Ishaan coaches local kids and even discovers a talented young player, Ali (Digvijay Deshmukh). He is now determined to groom the youngster. Govind is the ‘Baniya’ in the group. He is all gujarati, all the way – good with money and a keen eye on business. Omi is the son a priest with connections to the political world. His Mamaji, Bittu (Manav Kaul ), a political leader agrees to fund his business. But there are no free lunches in this world and Omi realizes later that he has to pay a huge price in return of his Mamaji’s favor. There is the feisty Vidya (Amrita Puri) Ishaan’s sister who has Govind as her Math tutor, except she wants more than teacher- student relationship with him.
The businessman in Govind prompts him to push them into expanding further – the trio book a store in an upcoming mall. The earthquake of 2001 ensues and leaves them in a financial hole. Meanwhile Omi becomes politically active and Ishaan finds himself on the opposite side of his friend, when he supports his Muslim protégé and their community. Vidya and Govind’s relation graduates to romance, even physical. Celebrations of India’s victory over Australia in the Second Test Australian cricket team’s tour of India during 2001 brings the alienated friends together. Smiles don’t last long as Omi loses his parents in the Godhra train massacre and Gujarat riots follow. Again, Omi finds himself on the conflicting side of his buddies as they support Ali when communal riots break out. Did their friendship stand the test of time? Watch the movie to learn the answer.
Kai Po Che is all heart brimming with energy that is very much contagious. Be it smiles or tears, Rajkumar Yadav, Amit Sadh and Sushant Singh Rajput successfully engross you in their dreams, aspirations, triumphs and heart-breaks. Each of these actors is talent galore with potential to reach far and wide. The equally brilliant supporting cast, Manav Kaul, Digvijay Deshmukh have you asking for more. Anay Goswami’s cinematography walks you through the dusty lanes, close enough to smell the soil. “Manjha” by composer Amit Trivedi and lyricist Swanand Kirkire deserve special mention for music that only enhances the movie experience. Attention to detail is noteworthy too; the popular number by Sunita Rao “Pari Hu Main” that plays in the background as Vidya and Govind make love on Dandya night, justifies the timeframe the movie is set in. Abhishek’s greatest accomplishment perhaps is the complete utilization of talented artists, be it raw or otherwise.
I did question the reasoning for the boys carefree attitude – they do not exactly come from old money, so why are they not employed? Did they even try to get a job? Did they graduate and decide to pursue their passion? Not exactly the middle class mentality. Some explanation would’ve helped. The screenplay tends to move quickly with some abrasive cuts in the editing room as well. For example, the school principal who seems indifferent to sports suddenly turns around to give the go. The friends seem to recover from major financial crises without much effort or sleepless nights.
Be that as it may, Abhishek Kapoor’s second ode to friendship is well worthy of screaming “Kai-Po-Che” – it does after all cut the wings of movies with superstars devoid of substance.