Kapoor & Sons: Good performances are marred by a sluggish narrative

Film: Kapoor & Sons

Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah,Fawad Khan, Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Khan

Director: Shakun Batra

To be a perfect child comes with great expectations. And in the ‘Indian Family’ context the demands are always higher and inescapable. Kapoor & Sons is a relatable family saga that drives home the ‘son’ rise dominion. This Karan Johar bankrolled, Shakun Batra directed family saga, while dipping into ‘love your family’ template that Karan Johar made his very own, prefers to stick to modest, realistic tenets rather than go the high-fashion route of the master.

Like in ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ the family has its warts and dysfunctions but they are not always visible to the naked eye. Two brothers, the older one Rahul (Fawad Khan) and younger sibling Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) return to Coonoor to visit their ailing grandfather (Rishi Kapoor). And we discover that all is not well in this family. Rahul is a successful novelist and the ‘golden’ achiever in the family while Arjun rates as a black sheep who doesn’t get to his potential. Rahul seems perfect but there is a vulnerable core to him that runs deep while Arjun is more brash and aggressive. Their parents are played by Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak Shah- both of whom are in perfect harmony with their respective roles.

None of the characters here are pristine or pure. Each has his/her defects and they must individually rally around them to signify their love for each other. But it’s a lot of hard work out there. There’s sibling rivalry, jealousy, complex inter-personal sieges, extra-marital affairs and many other ‘family’ related issues that crop up.

There’s also Tia (sprightly and engaging Alia Bhatt) to make the relationship between the brothers more difficult. A lovable Rishi Kapoor in obvious grandfather, Amarjeet Kapoor, make-up is the heart of this exercise though. Batra manages to draw out a finely chiselled performance from Fawad Khan and a rougher hewn and integral one from Sidharth. While the performances are uniformly good the film itself doesn’t manage to hold your attention right through.

The narrative flow is not very smooth and it’s not always happening either. There’s a fair bit of tension in the inherent byplay between siblings but it’s not elevated to high-wire effect. There are some really genuinely sublime moments here and there are sluggish over exaggerated ones too. As the characters reach confrontational heights, the performances too rise to match-up. The second half sets the characters on a path of risible conflict and much is revealed. But it’s not much of a surprise though. It’s obvious that this film lacks ambition. It has a gregarious and overly quirky leitmotif that makes it just a little short of challenging.

Johnsont307@gmail.com

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