Sushant-Amit-Raj Kumar in 'Kai Po Che'|Amrita Puri in 'Kai Po Che'

Three new faces, a second-time director and a novel as the basis of the plot; in simple terms, this is what is the essence of ‘Kai Po Che’. However, you’d be mistaken if you feel it would be worth a watch for just these credentials. Abhishek Kapoor returns after the blockbuster success of ‘Rock On!!’ (2008) with a film that brings male-bonding to the forefront yet again. Chetan Bhagat’s novel, ‘3 Mistakes of my Life’, is adapted to bring to the screens what promises to be nothing short of magical and packed to the rim with the real India. However, does it set itself apart from similar concepts that have graced Indian cinema over the last decade or so? Moreover, could a virtually unknown star-cast, no item song and no big star involvement really hit a chord with the audiences?

Sushant-Amit-Raj Kumar in 'Kai Po Che'
Sushant-Amit-Raj Kumar in 'Kai Po Che'

‘Kai Po Che’ is the story of three friends. Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) is very much unmotivated by anything other than cricket, Govind’s (Raj Kumar Yadav) goal is to own his shop and have financial stability and Omi (Amit Sadh) is always finding himself being lured by his politician uncle. When the three set out to open their own sports academy, their only option is to get a loan from Omi’s uncle. The academy allows Ishaan to fulfill his dream of training hopefuls in cricket, a sport he excelled in in his earlier years. Govind handles the finances of the business as well as tutoring Ishaan’s sister in maths, pending her upcoming exams. Set in 2001’s Ahmedabad, the story’s turning point is the Gujarat earthquake which happened at the time and this event sees the lives of all three change considerably with the intertwining of their business, sport and also the world of politics all playing a part.

In a mere two hours, it is difficult for a viewer not to be encompassed by the friendship and camaraderieportrayed in ‘Kai Po Che’. Under Kapoor’s direction, one sees real-life events being woven into a very human tale; the Gujarat earthquake, the India-Australia test series and also massacre of Godhra. The depiction of a friendship – a male bond – has perhaps never been put to the audiences in such a way that isn’t entirely coming-of-age but more about different identities coming together and relationships almost becoming that little bit more subtle in the grand scheme of things. There is a delicate way about the characters that finds its way unknowingly to an audience’s heart. Whether it be the foundation of Bhagat’s writing, the way the story has been adapted or how Kapoor has brought all of this to the screen would be unfair to pinpoint. It could also be an amalgamation of all three.

Amrita Puri in 'Kai Po Che'
Amrita Puri in 'Kai Po Che'

The three newbies, Singh Rajput, Sadh and Yadav, are heroes who will be remembered fondly as those who held a film on their shoulders by talent alone. Singh Rajput plays a not verylikablecharacter who is hard to comprehend a lot of the time but he plays him with such conviction that even in the piercingly heart-breaking scenes, the audience wants him to outshine. Sadh’s rendition of a character forced into politics is full of many colours but he sees victory in performance alone albeit with a little time in the beginning for him to settle into his character. It has to be said that Yadav is the one who provides the tangibleness that the overall plot needed. His awkward but straight-forward character comes to life in his execution. Puri plays her role as Ishaan’s sister and Govind’s love extremely well, giving the light-hearted bubbliness that would make an otherwise hearty plot a dull narrative. The ensemble cast of the movie are also perfect right from the Muslim boy that Ishaan mentors to Omi’s uncle.

With Amit Trivedi’s earthy melodies to compliment the movie and Swanand Kirkirepoeticallyapt lyrics, a three-song strong album creates huge impact in capturing the heart and soul of the movie. Manjha, Meethi Boliyaan and Shubhaarambh all serve well and are picturised minus the usual Bollywood razzmatazz and this only adds to their subtle but immensely effective appeal in the overall feel of the movie.

An audience would find it increasingly difficult after watching ‘Kai Po Che’ not to be touched by the undertones of friendship in all its imperfect ways. When the opening scene is of Omi being released from prison, it’s a given that something is going to go very wrong but yet there is a charm about ‘Kai Po Che’ that is almost hard to put your finger on. It makes you fall in love with Gujarat, with independence, with bromance. ‘Kai Po Che’ is a soulful, well-made and thought-provoking to say the least. Itshows how the imperfection of life has an impact on friendship and ambition but yet you somehow go away with a smile on your face knowing that this is perhaps one of the best films that you will see this year… and the year’s merely two months in.

BizAsia Showbiz rating: 4/5