Numerous films have showcased a trio of friends bonding together through various stages in life. While some like 'Tridev' were more filmy than 'Dil Chahta Hai', 'Rock On', '3 Idiots' or 'ZNMD', they excel in depicting the fun aspect of friendship and how personal interests can create a barrier between them. Director Abhishek Kapoor, whose last impression was with 'Rock On', adopts Chetan Bhagat's 3 mistakes of my life for the big screen and with an all new cast, aims to provide some freshness through a low budget. With friendship, ambition, cricket and other geo-political factors at the turn of the century, Kai Po Che takes the characters through diverse circumstances that threaten their friendship itself but are these amateur actors up for such a task? Does Abhishek Kapoor create a worthy adaptation of a top selling anecdotal novel? More importantly, is this a fine example of the new age Indian cinema? The answer to it all could be a 'Meh'.....
The film jumps straight to the trio's ambition of opening a cricket academy. Finance, apparently, is the only issue that haunts them throughout the movie and we're made to assume that Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) knows enough about cricket to actually train the youth at their academy, Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) has enough business sense or judgement to make it successful and Omi (Amit Sadh) has an unlimited borrowing capacity from his uncle and that is basically what he brings to the academy's operations as well. He just sits on the side till he is recruited into his uncle's political campaign. None of this is even a bit convincing because we have no background to refer to. Thereafter, crisis after crisis falls upon the trio while they're rescued by the political party's vested interest. All they have to do to show effort is take off their shirts and jump into the waters of Diu. The first half is dreary especially due to the lack of friendship fun, witty dialogues, tongue in cheek humor and inspiring performances. Notice any of the films mentioned earlier and you will remember all these aspects. Here, the actors are trying too hard, too loud to do.......... well.......... Nothing.
Complications arise when Omi decides to join his uncle's political campaign for the state elections. They arise when Govind decides to have an affair with Ishaan's sister, Vidya (Amrita Puri). They also arise when Ishaan gets overly ambitious for his student, Ali, to the dismay of his father. Then of course, there was the Gujarat earthquake, soon to be followed by the Godhra incident that led to riots in Ahmedabad. The events bring an interesting and much needed twist to the story and are relevant for the characters as their friendship sees disagreements and confrontations in their wake.
The singular problem with Kai Po Che is that everyone seems to be trying too hard to create a positive impression. The actors may have some prior experience but they are too loud in their confrontations and incredulous in dealing with circumstances. It is difficult to have pity on them if they fall into situations led by naivete. The director also tries too hard to make this look like another cult film but recreating the 'Rang De Basanti' shirtless running scene is simply not going to work because that was iconic. His confrontations and tense moments in 'Rock on' remain in memory but this stringless kite doesn't soar high enough with these characters and actors. One can easily relate these deficiencies to the source material of Chetan Bhagat's novel but remember, Five point someone was not even a remarkable novel. It was Rajkumar Hirani's adaptation of it that made 3 Idiots a cult film.
Sushant Singh Rajput may be a heartthrob for the soap opera viewers but his acting talent needs much refinement for most of us to even take him seriously. Amit Sadh was dull and forgettable while Raj Kumar Yadav portrayed his sincere yet foolhardy character quite well. Although, his yelling was a bit too much to tolerate when the money got stolen by Ishaan.
Amrita Puri is cute, mischevious, a leo at 29 and single. Can also act well. A perfect blend.
The cinematography and depiction of Ahmedabad during cricket fever, earthquake and riots is quite impressive. The city looks vibrant and a pleasant change from the constant depiction of Bombay and Delhi in every other film.
Amit Trivedi's music is reminiscent of Udaan, with Manja and Meethi Boliyan providing the soothing melodies while Shubhaarambh has its Gujarati vibe and dandiya beats. Swanand Kirkire makes the songs more meaningful than what the director could justify with their picturization.
Perhaps the word-of-mouth led to higher expectations but comparisons with friendship based movies is also inevitable and that's where Kai Po Che fails to create a lasting impression. The flawed characters did not overcome life's challenges to emerge as inspiring heroes, nor did they enjoy it in a manner that would entertain us enough to remember them. They were more like the ambitious youth these days, to whom you should think twice before lending any money. This kite does not soar high enough.
- 6.84 on a scale of 1-10.