REVIEW: ‘Kai Po Che’ – A Cut Above The Rest

Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che is essentially the coming of age story of three young boys in Gujarat - a quintessential bromance.
Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che is essentially the coming of age story of three young boys in Gujarat - a quintessential bromance.

There are few books that translate into better films. Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che is one such example where the film distils the essence of Chetan Bhagat’s book (‘The 3 Mistakes of My Life’) and delivers an assured cinematic experience.

Essentially the coming of age story of three young boys in Gujarat, this is the quintessential bromance. Their lives and friendship are punctuated by events beyond their control – earthquakes, test matches, simmering communal tension that violently erupts.

Raj Kumar Yadav plays Govind, the ambitious and calculating businessman who spearheads their sporting goods store and academy. Amit Sadh is Omi, son of the local temple priest who is being groomed by his uncle to enter local politics. Sushant Singh Rajput is Ishaan, a cricketer with limited talent whose career stagnated at district level.

The screenplay travels over time over the Bhuj quake to the Godhra riots showing how each of these events dramatically and definitely affects the seemingly unshakeable friendship between Omi, Ishaan and Govind. Kapoor does this without resorting to histrionics or sensationalism. The focus remains squarely on the trio and their small lives, which are affected by rather big things, and tested by them. The local catalyst for the change in dynamics between the friends is Ishaan’s determination to mentor Ali. The hugely talented young boy comes from the underprivileged Muslim quarter of their town and also happens to be Omi’s uncle’s chief rival.

A far more mature film than Rock On, which, in spite of its themes, manages to stay neutral and balanced in its telling, creating heightened drama and capturing moments of great camaraderie. There is one slim romantic angle that presents a major cliché – dandiya pregnancy et al. Amrita Puri plays Vidya Bhatt, Ishaan’s sister who falls in love with Govind during Maths tuition classes. Puri’s rendition is still reminiscent of her Delhi middle class character in fashion tableau Aisha. Yet there is something likable about her. This romance, as well as the development of the characters, is without depth or layers, but you are willing to gloss over this thanks to beautiful camerawork by Anay Goswami, Hitesh Sonik’s outstanding background score, Deepa Bhatia’s snappy editing, Amit Trivedi’s limited soundtrack and the all the eye candy!

Raj Kumar Yadav is electric on screen, a real powerhouse of a talent. Sushant Singh Rajput has terrific screen presence and makes a confident transition from the small to big screen. Amit Sadh starts with a splutter but delivers some punchy moments later. But the bonding works. Director Abhishek Kapoor brings it all together with a sure hand, the kind you need to cut a kite soaring high above you, just before you triumphantly yell ‘kai po che’ (I have cut it)!

Rating: ***1/2