Let me start by saying that I was really surprised by how much I liked Kapoor & Sons (K&S). The trailer wasn’t promising; the movie appeared to be another glossy love story with pointless dance and song. So not true. Thematically similar to Dil Dhadakne Do, a movie about a wealthy dysfunctional family, Kapoor & Sons focuses on interplay of relationships in a small middle class family settled on the hills of Coonoor. In terms of depth, relatability and subtlety it does far better job than the shiny travel brochure that Dil Dhadakne Do was almost on the verge of being.
The movie begins when the head of the Kapoor family, Daadu (Rishi Kapoor in geriatric makeup) has a heart attack and is admitted to the hospital. This brings his diasporic grandsons back home completing the small family unit. The heart of the story is the dysfunction masked by love between the four main characters of the Kapoor family – the mom, dad and the bickering brothers. All of them hide their own terrible secrets. Rahul (Fawad Khan) is the perfect and very obviously favored son. A successful writer, he enjoys moderate fame and wealth. He comes first in everything including his parent’s affection. Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) is obviously the disgruntled neglected child constantly looking for approval and trying to escape the shadow of his big bro. Unable to stick to a job he invites constant contempt from his family. The mom, portrayed by Ratna Pathak in a scene stealing performance, is the typical Indian housewife. She is the glue that holds the family together even though she suffers the most thru other’s faults. Rajat Kapoor (in another brilliant performance) as Harsh is the cheating husband and insensitive father. Each character brings a lot of emotional baggage and no conversation is innocent of accusations and past hurt.
Movies about dysfunctional families aren’t new, not even for Bollywood. What makes this really worthwhile is the edge of the seat drama, brilliant performances and the beautifully layered story. No character is devoid of secrets or sin. Each scene exposes a speck of the mess that the Kapoor family is, building the tension until the climax when all hell breaks loose.
Alia Bhatt’s character, Tia Singh, is charming and fun and provides some impetus to certain parts of the movie when it tends to drag. This is the first movie of her that I have seen and she is a revelation as an actress. While her character is not truly essential to the narrative, her performance makes it worthwhile.
Fawad Khan brings a steady and believable performance as that of the older and more responsible brother, while continuing to look superhot. Sidharth Malhotra has the more difficult part to play and he does mostly well in this sensitive role, stumbling through some intense emotional scenes.
There are some oddities that are probably worth mentioning. For a story set in a hill station in Tamil Nadu, there is a disproportionate high number of North-Indian Hindi speaking families settled there. While Tia’s character is pleasant, her plotline begs credibility. Daadu’s antics as a party loving old man are sometimes cute and other times annoying. All scenes with Rishi Kapoor appear contrived. He is a plot point necessary to force the characters together for all the fireworks, but he himself does not add any value to it.
These quibbles aside, Kapoor & Sons is an incredible smart and sophisticated movie. A movie that can be watched more than once.