Why I didn’t take to Kai Po Che

In one of the scenes from the movie, Govind tells Ishaan that he shouldn’t expect Ali to be copybook while playing his shots on the cricket field.

The director might not have intended the irony in this telling remark.

I am a fan of the book and consider it to be Chetan Bhagat’s best along with Five Point Someone. So had high expectations from the movie, especially after the glowing (to put it mildly) reviews. But the movie left me shifting in my seat impatiently for most of its 2 hour and something duration. In effect it felt like the lengthiest movie I have seen in some time.

I am terribly disappointed by Abhishek Kapoor’s adaptation of the book, and also the way the critics have absolutely ignored what’s lacking in the narrative- spontaneity, irony, energy, and inventiveness- the four things that made the book so entertaining.

It can be seen that the director has spent a considerable amount of time and effort on creating the visual ambience that the book managed through just words. But in doing so he has made the narrative so slow, and so long drawn that he had to cut down the essence of plot as shown in the book. Despite this, it is still copybook.

To me the book was a story of struggle, how three boys from small town India start a small business and how larger issues influence their lives and their dreams. The best moments of the book were when this actual struggle was shown- every thing about starting a small business, buying on credit, selling for a profit- the thrill of making small amounts of money. In the movie this part gets almost fast forwarded. The shop is a huge one and it doesn’t take a moment for them to fill it with all kinds of sporting goods with attractive displays. They also have enough space for a classroom, and very conveniently located (just behind their shop) abandoned park making for an ideal cricket training ground.  Again, Govind is shown as a super-successful sports management professional mentoring several sporting stars. Ali gets selected in the Indian cricket team at the age of 20. Somehow this convenience disparages the ‘effort’, which in my view was the soul of the book.

What the director does next is just reproduce all the showy bits from the book- the boy hitting Ishaan for consecutive sixes, the teacher-pupil romance, the India-Aus Kolkota text match, the entire Godhra-riots climax. In these bits even the dialogues are more or less the same. Whatever twisting around has been done makes no sense if they have followed the template so rigidly otherwise.

The most innovative part of the book, when the three friends take their ward to an India Australia ODI match and get introduced to an Aussie player, and the subsequent episode in Australia gets deleted (lack of budget maybe?).

Because the finer details got done away with, there is little cohesiveness in the series of incidents shown in the movie. The acting by two of the leads is far too rehearsed, while the third- Sushant Sigh Rajput does really well, constantly overshadowing his peers (both by design and by his sheer talent). SS Rajput is a star.

I don’t see why the critics have extolled the efforts of Rajkumar Yadav. It is a visual medium and he has an uncomfortable and awkward presence for a lead. As far as his acting goes, I don’t see anything special in him either. Not a patch on Nawazzudin Sidiqui, and he will hardly go beyond being a character artist- which is not bad by any means. Amid Sadh will find it difficult being anything else but a TV actor despite decent looks.

The music is fantastic and the songs are a high-point. But overall the film is a massive disappointment for me. The audience reactions too were very unfavorable- at a high end city PVR.

For someone who has not read the source novel, it might be a slightly novel experience. In that regards it is a 2.5 star movie as per me. For someone who has read the book (which in itself is akin to reading the movie), the movie offers nothing much. It is just the way I felt after watching Hello.

  1. sputnik 11 years ago

    Interesting. A lot of people were saying that the novel was bad and the movie was good. Hello was very bad so if it is like Hello its not a good thing.

    • Author
      dwnpiyush 11 years ago

      Kai Po Che is a better movie than Hello. But that’s because 3 Mistakes of my Life is a better book than One Night at the Call Center. What I meant was that as someone who has read the book, the movie did nothing to me and I would prefer reading the book again- that’s the same as how I felt after watching Hello.

      • Author
        dwnpiyush 11 years ago

        On people who are saying that the novel is bad and the movie is good- how can it be the case- the movie is an extraction (would be a better word to use than an adaptation) of the book. I am a fan of conspiracy theories. The media reaction to the film smells of an agenda to prop up Abhishek Kapoor as someone who is extraordinarily talented, and to run down the contribution of Chetan Bhagat. The fact is that Chetan Bhagat’s novels are like reading a movie- 3 Idiots was a different story altogether as Hirani gave it a completely different texture/feel/mood/narrative.

  2. Serenzy 11 years ago

    “The fact is that Chetan
    Bhagat’s novels are like reading a movie”


    2States is Sureshot Bollywood Rom-Com Material with Lots of Comedy.
    R2020 was Average though.

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