There’s an understated ease with which the characters play out and the screenplay unreels. Let’s start with the characters. They’re as real as it can get. As ‘us’ as it can get. The director (Shakun Batra) doesn’t start defining them as soon as he introduces them to us. He lets them be. They mold and find themselves along the way through the circumstances and situations they’re put in. And the situations don’t seem contrived. Which brings me to the screenplay. Every subsequent bit perfectly spins out of the preceding bit and fluidly ties in to the next. And the whole is a well-knit coming together of these parts. Kapoor and Sons is a flawless film that way. It may seem easy to execute on the outside but how often does Bollywood manage something like this – a coherent story, well narrated, engaging, with well-written characters. It’s a milestone in itself. And sets a standard for films to come.
But the credit for this goes as much to our director (who I could trust after Ek Main Aur Ek Tu. I know the film didn’t do great and a lot of people didn’t like it but his understated style lent the film a whole new character that took it to a different level. For whatever the film was worth, it was only because of him helming it) as to the perfect ensemble. Alia Bhatt is so comfortable and effortless playing Tia she doesn’t seem to be doing it for the camera. She (despite the minimal role) along with Fawad Khan hold this film together.
Sidharth Malhotra is getting better with each film. He’s spontaneous (I wish he was given more credit for that!) and equally at ease as the younger, immature sibling with amazing timings and expressions that help more than the dialogues. He does fall short in the more intense scenes. (But he needs to be more responsible. He unawaredly walks around with that smile he doesn’t realize kills. It’s always hard to focus when he’s on screen. But that needs a whole new post).
The soon-to-be 90 ‘daadu‘ (Rishi Kapoor) is the heart of Kapoor and Sons. When the sons and grandsons are busy squabbling over sometimes petty, sometimes serious matters, he’s the string that binds and keeps them together. His style of speech is impeccable for someone that old and so consistent throughout it made me forget he’s younger. Ratna Pathak and Rajat Kapoor seemed married for years. Some of the conversations are so real you feel like an outsider privy to their space. Like the scene where the two brothers are having a sutta conversation with daadu in his room while their parents in the next room, overcome with guilt, are talking about their relationship having hit a cul-de-sac.