Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chetan Bhagat, Thank You!: A Kai Po Che Review

Much has been written about how Kai Po Che is a brilliant adaptation of a 'mediocre' book. An absolutely avid film buff Avinash Verma differs on the latter. Read on for what is definitely one of the most insightful takes that you would read on the film and the book.

Its 1.30 am, almost three hours since I came out of the theatre but I m not able to forget  Rajkumar Yadav’s crying face at the sight of the debris of an upcoming  mall which would have secured his and his two friend’s future and Sushant Singh Rajput’s smile with the sun shining behind his head giving him an angelic halo. Will come to this soon but before that, let’s talk about the most defining moment of the film.

The riots are going to break out any moment. Ishan (Sushant Singh Rajput), the angriest and the gutsiest character of the gang calls up Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav), the weakest and the most fattu of the three, and asks him – “Yaar thoda darr sa lag raha hai, tu aa sakta hai kya?”, to which Govind replies, without blinking  an eyelid or thinking twice, “10 minute de mujhe.”

This scene sums up the movie, You DONT think when it comes to save your friend’s lives. You just don’t, there is no reason, no fear, no rationale. You know that you have to do it, no matter what the consequences are, no matter if it’s right or wrong, no matter how much harm it would bring your way, no matter what others would think of it. You do it because you have to, every part in your body tells you not to, but you know you have to and you go ahead and do it. And that’s what Friendship is, the most precious bond that one can ever share with another human being.

And these three actors (two of them making a stellar debut on the big screen) have shown this bond so authentically on screen that you never once realise that it’s fiction, a film. These guys are your friends, people you know from around you. We all have such friends, a fattu archetype money minded baniya, a religious innocent easily impressionable choot who is just happy to tag along and an overzealous angry loafer with a good heart. We all have been one of these at some point in our life or other.

We have fought for a cause we believed in, we all have dreamt of a great future and we all have been manipulated into doing something we never would want to. These are ordinary people, living ordinary lives facing extraordinary challenges and that’s the beauty of this film that it shows it just the way it should be.

It’s like a perfectly cooked dish, with all the ingredients in the right amount. And the performances, takes it to a few notches higher just like a good seasoning. Sushant Singh Rajput, in a debut of a lifetime, steals the show with panache, while Raj Kumar Yadav is the ever so reliable actor who could turn ordinary scenes into memorable ones with a certain twitch of his facial muscle or by reacting so naturally to something said by some other character sharing screen with him. His reaction to the sperm comment or his uneasiness to the touch of his best friend’s sister or his awkward dance steps, all these scenes prove that he is just plain gifted; he owns every character that he has played since his debut in Love, Sex aur Dhokha. I am desperately waiting for Shahid, which would hopefully get him the limelight he rightfully deserves.

Omi (Amit Sadh), who is probably the least likable of these three, does his job so subtly well that you don’t realise how brilliantly he has managed to make you hate his character. His blood filled eyes and his breakdown at the stadium are sheer awesomeness. And the ‘Pari’, Amrita Puri, is one charming lass playing  a super hot girl-next-door with traits exactly what Chetan Bhagat imagined she would have while writing her.

It was a very sensitive film to make because it touches upon the Godhra incident, one of the bleakest and most dreadful clot on our country’s forehead, which I think has been handled quite brilliantly by Abhishek Kapoor. Some might say that he played safe but this wasn’t Parzania or Firaaq and it neither needed to be. The climax, which in contrast of the book’s is way less filmi and much more emotionally satisfying. The focus is on the bond of the these three friends and it never drifts away while the film touches upon myriads of topics like youth angst, politics, religion, cricket, communal discord and middle class aspirations! You have to give it to Abhishek Kapoor and his team to balance everything in a two hour long film without losing focus and being true to the milieu in which the film is set. The sporadic but perfect use of Gujarati language, the traditions, the culture and the setting is pitch perfect.

Bashing Chetan Bhagat  is in vogue, a cool thing to do. He is the Himesh Reshammiya of Indian Literary scene. Just like everyone listens to Reshammiya secretly during their house parties or in their cars and go ‘ewww’ in public on the mention of his name, no one admits that they had some genuine laughs while reading Bhagat’s books or maybe even enjoyed one of them. I personally know people who haven’t read a single book of his but can go on for hours deriding his ‘brand’ of literature (if you may) and his ‘style’ of writing but I want to say Thanks to him because if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be having this wonderful film that is perhaps one of the finest buddy film to have been made ever. It’s right there in the league of DCH, RDB, Satya, ZNMD.

No matter how bad his grammar is or how non-elitist the stories are, you cannot deny that he has the magical power to write stories about middle class India like no one else can and it can’t be a fluke to write 5 successive super hit novels (There are innumerous ‘Indian authors’ that came after him who tried to copy his formula but fell flat on their faces!). Millions in our country started reading English fiction because of him, there has to be something in those books that connects. We have to give it to him. He is the literary rockstar of India. I personally enjoyed 3 of his 5 books, ‘3 mistakes’ being one of them. It’s been a long time since I read that but after watching the film I realised it was not at all a bad book. It surely wasn’t a great book but Kai Po Che exists because of '3 mistakes' and that is reason enough to be grateful to Chetan Bhagat. I would go on to the extent of saying that this is a better film than 3 Idiots, not that they are comparable or anything but because '3 mistakes' was a more difficult book to adapt and this time there wasn’t a genius like Hirani working on the script. This time it was Abhishek Kapoor, the one film wonder (Aryan was a dud and half of Rock-On’s credit was snatched by Farhan Akhtar and Shankar Ehsan Loy) who people wanted to succeed but had their doubts. This film is his salvation. A stamp on his artistic capabilities.

This film works in every department and it would be a crime not to mention the fabulous camerawork of Anay Goswami, superb editing by Deepa Bhatia and absolutely mind blowing music by Amit Trivedi. These guys are the real heroes of the film and its because of them that the film works on so many levels. Its flawless cinema, don’t give it a miss! It will be a mistake, of epic proportions.

P.S. - Aur jaate jaate, Sushant Singh Rajput, You are a fucking rockstar! I should have come and say Hello to you the day I saw you at the Nike Store near Shivranjini in Ahmadabad. I ignored you thinking – “Ohh, he is just a small time TV actor who has landed a big film role by accident. He isn’t worth my adulation.” How fucking wrong I was! I wish I could have met and hugged you because now I know how difficult it would be to find you all alone in a public place. Well, it surely was one big mistake of my life.

Read more articles by Avinash Verma on HindiCine:
Keh ke leli… Dubara.
Avoid Life, It kills you in the end
You can follow Avinash Verma on Twitter at 


  1. awsum review. i dont understand why everyone feels that 3 mistakes was not a good book. personally it is my favorite book of chetan bhagat, maybe because its set in ahmedabad but also for its very interesting. am yet to see Kai po che but cant wait after reading this review. :)

  2. saw the film today. lovely film and lovely review. sushant singh rapjput is going to be a superstar. and abhishek kapoor has proved himself again.


  3. “Yaar thoda darr sa lag raha hai, tu aa sakta hai kya?”, to which Govind replies, without blinking an eyelid or thinking twice, “10 minute de mujhe.”
    my favorite part of the film and the review. i have to see the film again now.

  4. I particularly loved the understated performance of Rajkumar Yadav. Its time he deserves his due after LSD, Ragini MMS, Talaash. the 'Ayesha' girl surprised me too-it was an unconventional characterisation for a female character. did total justice to Vidya's character in the book. and oh yes, i went through 3 mistakes again. the book aint bad at all. infact picked it only to check something with respect to film and ended up reading it again. though i'd still say they improved the deficiencies of the book in the film.