Inter-caste relationships/marriages aren't new for Bollywood. Till a few years ago, it was a regular template essential to make a Hindi movie work. Recall EK DUUJE KE LIYE, attempted more than three decades ago. The much-in-love couple -- the South Indian guy [Kamal Haasan] and his North Indian beloved [Rati Agnihotri] -- encountered a storm when their families got wind of their romance. More recently, in the hugely-admired VICKY DONOR, the Punjabi mom [of Ayushmann Khurrana] and the Bengali father [of Yami Gautam] voice apprehensions when they learn of their respective kids' stance of having an inter-caste marriage. Are we still conservative when it comes to matters of heart and marriage?
2 STATES is based on Chetan Bhagat's bestseller '2 States: The Story Of My Marriage' and since the film is set in the present times, when a lot of people have liberal viewpoints on love and marriage, one wonders why the principal characters -- the North Indian boy [Arjun Kapoor] and his South Indian sweetheart [Alia Bhatt] -- do not oppose their parents' wishes and get married? Both are in love, both are free-thinking individuals, both have lucrative jobs and aren't dependent on their respective families... so what's the hitch? Conversely, in this day and age, why do *some* people feel that since their kid has done so well in life, he/she deserves a partner from their own community?
2 STATES, directed by Abhishek Varman, attempts to answer the varied questions crossing the minds of the lovers and their respective families. The love birds here are no rebels. Instead, they decide to persuade their families, win their trust, besides making the families overcome the prejudices and misconceptions of cultural differences. In a way, the film motivates you to look beyond the community -- a message that comes across vigorously towards a vital stage in the film.
Let's enlighten you about the plot of the film! Love marriages around the world are simple. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. They get married. It's different here... Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Girl's family has to love the boy. Boy's family has to love the girl. Girl's family has to love the boy's family. Boy's family has to love the girl's family. And if things fall into place, the couple gets married...
2 STATES is a story about a journey of one such couple, Krish Malhotra [Arjun Kapoor] and Ananya Swaminathan [Alia Bhatt]. They meet at the IIM-Ahmedabad and fall in love. Complications arise when they decide to get married. Krish and Ananya belong to two different states of India: Krish is a North Indian Punjabi boy from Delhi, while Ananya is a Tamil Brahmin girl from Chennai. They take a conscious decision; till their parents don't agree, they won't get married.
Everything goes downhill when the parents meet. There is a cultural clash and the parents oppose the wedding. To convert their love story into a love marriage, the couple faces a tough battle in front of them. For, it's easy to fight and rebel, but much harder to convince. Will Krish and Ananya's love for each other sustain the battles? Will they manage to convince their parents?
Director Abhishek Varman stays faithful to Chetan Bhagat's bestseller, adapting it delightfully on the big screen. The diverse cultures, the discomfort and the pressures when people talk of inter-caste liaison, the unyielding love and the resolve to win the parents' trust... each and every aspect -- the emotions included -- are captured meticulously by the storyteller. Abhishek also makes us peep into the mindset of the two families, highlighting the doubts that arise in such a scenario, yet he makes sure he doesn't belittle or demean any community in the process.
Abhishek makes a significant debut as a storyteller. His eye for detailing, the sensitivity with which he handles relationships, the complex story that he narrates without resorting to gimmicks catches your attention. The story flows seamlessly, the sequence of events follow a rhythm, the balance between the couple's desire to get married and their mission to make things work between the two families is picture perfect. Having said that, one shouldn't overlook or sidestep the contribution of the writer [Chetan Bhagat], who packs in ample meat for cineastes looking for relevant and relatable, yet engaging and entertaining stuff at the same time.
The soundtrack [Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy] gels beautifully with the genre. While a couple of compositions are harmonious, you relate to the songs more when you view them in context. Binod Pradhan's cinematography bathes every single frame in lush colors, making it a visually enticing experience. Hussain Dalal's dialogue are articulate and convey the emotions wonderfully.
2 STATES is a complete departure from the genre of films Arjun Kapoor has featured to date [ISHAQZAADE, AURANGZEB, GUNDAY]. This one is more real, demands that he shed the unwanted baggage of the conventional hero and interpret the character with complete understanding. Arjun steals the show with an effortless, charming and convincing portrayal. He's gonna surprise a lot of people with this film, for sure. Alia Bhatt proves yet again that she doesn't need a dialogue to communicate; her eyes and expressions do the talking. Also, post HIGHWAY, Alia gets yet another complex character to prove her mettle and she does a super job of interpreting her character with aplomb.
The supporting cast is consistently first-rate. Ronit Roy sparkles in a difficult-to-portray character. Amrita Singh is terrific as the dominating mother. A role she enacts so wonderfully, she deserves brownie points for it. Revathy leaves a stamp every time she appears on screen. She's fantastic! Shiv Subramanyam hits the right note as Alia's father. I'd like to make a special mention of Achint Kaur, who stands out in a brief but vital role.
On the whole, 2 STATES is one of the finest movies to come out of the Hindi film industry of late. This is one of those rare Hindi movies that commands a repeat viewing. Strongly recommended!