2 States

SRIMOYEE T PHUKAN reviews the film based on Chetan Bhagat's book

Film: 2 States

Director: Abhishek Varman

Producers: Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala

Cast: Aliya Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor

Rating:  4 stars

As I waded my way out of the theatre, I overheard a rare breed of Indian saying that he hasn’t read Chetan Bhagat’s ‘2 States’, and that, after this movie, he doesn’t intend to, because the film gave such a complete experience of its essence and intent. I wanted to pat his back. Needless to say, I totally agree with him, albeit I have read the book – a ritualistic task for an average Indian. And it is not often that you come across such a good adaptation of a book which according to the author is his least criticized work so far.

Producer Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala mark the debut of director Abhishek Varman with ‘2 States.’ Understandably it must not have been easy for a director to spin a narrative which has a clear ending from its first frame, and more importantly, the hype around the film. To keep the audience’s interest going he must create a film that is crisp and engaging, peppered with just the right amount of Bollywood kitsch that will entertain for nearly three hours. In this regard ace editor Namrata Rao has to her credit to keep the verve going till the end and not letting it fall flat or get dragged at any point.

While the Bollywood track record has a twisted tendency to manipulate the north/south divide into a stereotypical production for cheap humour (‘Chennai Express’?), ‘2 States’ manages to shed all the baggage to serve up a more realistic slice of life that could very well be a love story that you may have heard of, or even your own. Not saying there aren’t any stereotypes, but palatable ones mostly. Punjabi boy Krish Malhotra (Arjun Kapoor) and Tamilian Ananya Swaminathan (Alia Bhatt) are college sweethearts who fast track their way towards careers, life and commitment. But the duo must work their way into the hearts of their in-laws, and then work towards having the two families fall in love with each other. In no time, you are rooting for Krish and Ananya as they face stiff resistance from their conservative parents. Along this journey that takes them through a minefield of emotional struggles, Krish also has his own demons to slay at home with a volatile relationship with his own father, played by a stellar Ronit Roy.

A near perfect casting of the film is what makes ‘2 States’ what it is. Amrita Singhas the overbearing Punjabi mother creatively manages to rise above the caricatures like Kiron Kher in the past has achieved, and brings her own stamp of joviality to the character of Kavita. One sure would crave to see more of this gifted actress on screen after this film. Revathy and Shiv Kumar Subramaniam as Ananya’s parents bring their own quiet dignity to their characters. But it is Ronit as Krish’s father, who steals the show with his understated performance of a disgraced army man and an abusive husband and father. As his character develops, his inner struggle is articulated with pregnant pauses and minimal dramatics that must be credited to director Abhishek Varman. The decision of the father-son duo to call it a truce was as uplifting as watching the lovers unite at the end of the film. One is likely to be reminded of Ronit in ‘Udan’where he essayed a similar role. However for me, Achint Kaur, as Krish’s loud and well-meaning aunt, comes as a pleasant surprise. Three-film old Alia is charming and spunky as Ananya and her luminous beauty lights up the screen on many occasions. She combines Kareena’s screen presence with Konkana’s natural flair. She breathes life into Ananya’s character while resisting the clichéd expressions and antics expected from a quintessential Bollywood heroine. Or maybe this line will soon be redundant given the kind of roles that are being carved out for Hindi film heroines lately. A big shout-out to Arjun Kapoor for matching up to the beloved character of Krish brought alive by Bhagat in the book.

The film has been shot across Ahmadabad, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai and the director has picked some interesting locations which enhances the realistic texture of the film as much cinematographer Binod Pradhan’s lenses magnify the beauty of these places. Although Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy is one of the best composers we have, they fail to impress with the music this time round. What however works wonderfully well are the beautiful Tamil pieces that create just the right balance and mood without going overboard with the dose of Punjabi songs.

Granted ‘2 States’ is very much the popcorn entertainment that can be expected from a Bhagat novel, but the good news is that you don’t exactly have to leave your brains behind. I will go with 4 stars. ‘2 States’ will leave you on a happy state of mind, and as the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, “no medicine cures what happiness cannot.” It’s only fitting he had the last words today.

Srimoyee Tamuli Phukan is a freelance writer and editor with Qatar based Magazines, ‘Qatar Today’, ‘UK Glam’, ‘Campus’ and ‘Just Here.’ She has worked as an Editor with Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, and holds a Masters in English from University of Delhi and an M. Phil degree in English Literature from English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. She enjoys sharing her views on Hindi cinema, art and culture and travels over her blog: http://candid-a.blogspot.com. In her free time she day-dreams about writing a script for a film one day that will change the course of her life.