Kai Po Che – A Casting Story

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More often than not, overhyping a movie tends to kill it for the viewers who watch a movie late. And in these times of high information consumption, much as you try, those facebook status updates, or blogger reviews, or media soundbytes do reveal more than you would care to know about a particular movie. KaiPoChe was at risk. It was overhyped.

And it did spoil a few things. But not a lot.

Kai Po Che, for me, is a good example of how right casting makes huge difference to a movie. One of my gripes with 3idiots would always be that barring Shrman Joshi, the other two did not really seem well cast. Kareen Kapoor even more so. However, almost an accident since the big stars did not want this movie, the entire cast of Kai Po Che is near perfect in their aura. It was difficult to not like the movie. Now the question is – did I walk in wanting to not like the movie? Yes. I hated the book– The Three Mistakes Of My Life by Chetan Bhagat. Of the many really average books he has written, I think 3 mistakes is the worst. So, I did not want to see such a bad book turn into a good movie. In some corner of my mind, I was hoping that this movie would be as big a disaster as Hello (which is based on “One Night AtThe Call Center”, the second worst book by CB).
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Sushant Singh Rajput as Ishan, the obsessed cricket fan, is excellent. His angst, and the futility of his existence (for what else is it, if you’re a failed fanatic who can demolish even the things you really loves in a moment of frenzy), and his silent apologies – he works well to deliver the central character. There is a certain amount of energy, almost Shahrukh-ish (the early career). Rajkumar Yadav as the bumbling young man, who, for a non-gujju, is the quintessential gujju – the obsession with money matters, the persistence, the brilliant understanding of pennies, and a can-go-to-any-length-kinda-friend. Unsure in the company of Vidya (Amrita Puri), and the enterprising one – Govind is the perfect shadow in the movie. He keeps it real. Vidya is a perfect balance of caring and cunning naughtiness, and has a refreshing screen presence. She was pretty good in aisha too.
But the standout performance for me was Amit Sadh as Omi. In a way, his is the only character that evolves over the movie. The others carry their personality through the movie. Omi, however, graduates from being someone who almost follows anything that Ishan says, to an unsure and reluctant politician, to an enraged fanatic, to a scarred for life young man well beyond his years. His body language, expressions, dialogue delivery, and intensity evolve from frame to frame. Excellent performance!

Credit must be given to Abhishek Kapoor, and whoever else is the dialogue writer of the movie. The screen play does not deviate much from the movie, though the level of detailing is quite good. Despite the enormity of the events, their handling (which is praiseworthy given the quiet and peripheral handling of Gujarat riots and Godhara) never deviates from the core story of friendship.
Music by Amit Trivedi is excellent as usual. At the end of it, Manjha is the song that stays with you for very long. Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics add their magic to the notes.

Barring occasional pace issues, the movie is an extremely enjoyable watch. And watching Harbhajan take wickets was like an encounter with an alternate universe.

Can surely be watched and enjoyed. A 4-star kinda movie.

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About Amit Das
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

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