Movie Review: KAI PO CHE! (2013)
ROCK ON is one of my favorites movies about a group of friends and the tribulations their friendship goes through. Director Abhishek Kapoor follows this up with a similar movie, but the setting and premise is shifted to an area with a politically charged climate and a time period that’s become infamous in Indian history.
Blank Page Rating: 3 out of 5 Cricket Bats
KAI PO CHE is a simple story about 3 friends with different ambitions in life, getting together to make something of themselves. However, the Hindu / Muslim riots that rocked the state of Gujarat years ago, causes these best friends get caught up in the chaos, and their lives change for the worse due to it. The three friends are comprised of Rajkumar Rao as Govind, Sushant Sing Rajput as Ishaan & Amit Sadh as Omi. All three actors provide breakout performances that are highly charged while being tragically demure all at the same time. Each actor gets their moment to shine and do so superbly.
The story starts off with the boys starting a sports shop with the motivation and planning of Govind, the ambitious, studious and business minded of the three. Being a former minor league cricketer, the business is based on the skills and expertise of sportsman Ishaan to teach and coach kids as part of their sports academy. Omi is the directionless one of the three, who goes with the flow and does what his friends believe in, until his emotions and sense of loyalty steer him in a different direction.
KAI PO CHE is effective in setting up a great relationship between the three boys. They take us through good times and bad, their challenges and successes as well as conflicts between them that are resolved. And all this is setting up the greater tragedy that befalls them, dividing loyalties and pitting friend against friend in a situation of complex religious turmoil. The movie doesn’t follow the expected clichés of setting up the conflict between the friends; there is no ideological differences, no battle of morality, no grave misunderstanding but just a case of wrong place at the wrong time. The incidents that follow, and the characters reactions to them are all logical and real. The film isn’t polished in any way in terms of its execution and cinematography, but rather keeps background din alive in most scenes, adding to the realism that much more. Only the song montages are stylized, but even then with a lot of restraint.
Abhishek Kapoor is able to tell a small story that holds one’s attention through out, despite the subject matter never being anything more than the lives of these three characters. Even the political and religious turmoil taking place falls to 2nd place behind the stories of these three. Sushant Singh Rajput debuts here with an impressive performance of a layabout who is obsessed with cricket, but finds his calling through a young protégé. Rajput balances the indifference of a man with no ambition and the passion of an athlete. While being flawed Rajput gives Ishaan the likeability and innocence of a kid wanting to do the right thing, and getting caught up in it. Rajkumar Rao is becoming one of the most impressive young actors of this generation with intense performance in many small movies in recent time. In KAI PO CHE Rao’s Govind is the only one with a love story, and his real world personality is very relatable to the everyday audience. Amit Sadh is brilliant as he captures Omi’s carefree nature, while being a youth that gets an ideology forced upon him and he takes it to heart. The 3rd act is all about Omi as he transforms from the demure boy throughout the film, to a man who’s lost it all and reacts accordingly.
KAI PO CHE is an engaging little film that uses the backdrop of one of the largest religious riots in Indian history to tell a smaller story with maximum dramatic impact, while still not allowing any melodrama or histrionics to creep into the final product.