Kai Po Che: Newcomers put up an impressive performance

MUMBAI: Kai Po Che is an adaptation of the Chetan Bhagat novel, Three Mistakes Of My Life, about three friends living the Gujarat dream - to become entrepreneurs. This is Bhagat‘s third book to be made into a film after One Night @ The Call Centre (Hello) and, Five Point Someone (3 Idiots).

Producers: Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapoor.

Director: Abhishek Kapoor.

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Raj Kumar Yadav, Amit Sadh, Amrita Puri, Digvijay Deshmukh, Manav Kaul.

Raju Hirani‘s 3 Idiots turned Five Point Someone into a cinematic miracle which went on to become the highest Hindi grosser so far. Kai Po Che has the tough task of bettering it or, at least, living up to it. To start with a small correction with spellings, it is ‘Chhe‘ in Gujarati language and ‘Che‘ means nothing in Gujarati.

A pol in Ahmedabad is a congested one-track settlement where households live as one family; the main doors are always open and you don‘t have to knock to enter. It is typically an old Ahmedabad phenomenon and Hindu and Muslim localities usually share demarcations by a lane or two.

Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav), Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) and Omi (Amit Sadh) have grown up together in one such pol and are more like brothers than friends. Still, all three are poles apart. Yadav is practical and ambitious with entrepreneurial instincts, Rajput is a cricket fanatic and Sadh is all brawn and no brains, just happy to belong. The centre point of this pol is a temple where Sadh‘s father is the chief priest while his mama, Manav Kaul, is the trustee and treasurer with heavy leanings towards a political party.

Yadav gives tuitions to local kids and helps his mother with her home industry of delivering popular Gujarati snacks like khakhras and theplas. However, his entrepreneurial side won‘t let him rest with just so little. Since Rajput is a cricket enthusiast and spends time coaching the neighbourhood kids, and Sadh‘s family controls the temple, he suggests they set up a shop in the temple premises selling sports goods. Nobody is convinced initially with the idea but, Sadh being his only nephew for whom he has grand plans in politics, Kaul finances and encourages them to go ahead. The shop is quite a success and there are picnics and celebrations for the trio.

The lives of three friends are soon destined to follow different tracks. Yadav carries on with his zeal to expand and is in search for a bigger outlet somewhere in the developing parts of the city, finally settling on a mall, Sadh is gradually drawn into politics by Kaul while Rajput has finally found his calling; he has met a young Muslim boy, Digvijay Deshmukh, in who he sees potential to be a cricket star some day. Rajput takes it upon himself to train the boy with all his time and resources. That is when the 26 January, 2001 earthquake hits Gujarat. Among others it has also destroyed the mall in which the three had invested Rs 500, 000 loaned by Kaul.

No sooner has the calamity been forgotten, the infamous Sabarmati Express episode happens a year later, leading to communal riots. The three have different priorities: Yadav is worried he has impregnated Rajput‘s sister, Rajput wants to save Deshmukh and his family members while Sadh, who has lost his parents in the train disaster, wants to avenge them and is on the move with rioting mobs.

The first half of the film is all about three friends, their carefree life and finding a cause while post interval, the perspective changes to wider issues, the riots and how they changed lives.

The feel good film suddenly turns heavy, stuffing in too much. The story of three friends through various moments in their lives does not touch the viewer at anytime. Being a period-specific story, the director has not been very particular about the city he is dealing with. The pol in the story opens on the main road showing traffic, there are green and yellow CNG rickshaws in 2001, and many malls in the making. None of this is accurate. The interiors are shown to be dull and drab which don‘t make for pleasant viewing. There is extensive use of Gujarati language but it neither has Ahmedabadi twang nor is pronounced properly by non Gujarati artistes. The title Kai Po Che has no relevance to the story and the film has just one passing kite-flying scene while kite flying is a passion in the city climaxing on 14 January every year. Also, the title, which is a cry that goes when an opponent‘s kite is cut, it means little to those outside of Gujarat and Mumbai. The songs are soothing.

The new faces in the film, Yadav, Sadh as well as Rajput do very well while Amrita Puri in her brief role is suitably apt alternating between a coy girl and a bold one romancing her brother‘s best friend on the sly. Deshmukh is impressive. Kaul lives up to his part.

Kai Po Che has been much hyped yet falls short of expected opening response. While some improvement may be expected over next two days, it may not be enough. 

Zila Ghaziabad: Of gangs, guns and gore

Producer: Vinod Bachchan.

Director: Anand Kumar.

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arsad Warsi, Vivek Oberoi, Paresh Rawal, Ravi Kissen, Chandrachur Singh, Sunil Grover, Minissha Lamba, Charmy Kaur, Eijaz Khan, Ashutosh Rana.

Zila Ghaziabad is one of those local stories from Ghaziabad, UP, and considering the region, it is about violence and gang wars blended with politics and police to complete the chowkdy (gathering of four).

The film is supposed to be inspired from a real life war between two Gujjar community gangs of the town, only turned up many notches in violence. In fact, the film is all about violence with a few item/dance numbers thrown in while all other aspects like relations and emotions are mere props.

Vivek Oberoi wears desi garb, teaches youngsters under a tree and quotes Mahatma Gandhi. That is not all. He is a multi-talented man: a lawyer by qualification, he romances the town head‘s daughter and can even take to arms if it comes to it. The headman, Paresh Rawal, usually engages muscleman Arshad Warsi but is convinced when Oberoi suggests a legal route to solve a land dispute with Ravi Kissen. The sarpanch being the judge and jury, Oberoi wins the day for Rawal whose brother in law, Sunil Grover, is not pleased with his proximity either with Rawal or with his daughter, Charmy Kaur. Thus a couple of enmity angles have opened up.

Grover, playing the old-fashioned villain, creates a rift between Warsi and Oberoi. Blood flows getting the media attention and it is time for the super cop, Sanjay Dutt, to enter. He metes out instant justice. There are no arrests and no court cases in his law book. Dutt seems to plan his strategies on a chessboard. He studies it like a tarot card and decides to let Oberoi and Warsi loose on each other and for them to fight it out between themselves. Dead bodies drop like nine pins: Chandrachur Singh, Rawal, some women and a horde of henchmen. Nobody is counting.

Being UP, the politics and gangster nexus is inevitable. It is election time and gangster Kissen, aided by Warsi, decides to throw in his hat, with Oberoi‘s brother, Eijaz Khan, opposing him. Kissen wins hands down giving him a licence to rule the district and eliminate anybody who crosses his path. But before that, he has to eliminate Warsi who has now become a nuisance for him. So there are going to be some more gun fights and some hand-to-hand combat as well. In fact, the film is all about fights except when it breaks for an item number.

All the while when the gangs are shooting at each other, Dutt does support one of them from behind the scene. You can‘t have Dutt in the cast and not have him be part of the action. Finally, when all the baddies have gone down, Oberoi survives to resume spreading Gandhi‘s philosophies again. His is one case where Dutt has made an exception and got him his due punishment instead of giving justice on the spot, a bullet in the head.

Zila Ghaziabad has a number of artistes in its roster and as a new one arrives on screen, an old one makes way. Dutt, Oberoi, Warsi, Rawal, Singh, Kissen are all apt. The one who stands out in the lot is Grover. The girls Kaur, Minissha Lamba, and Divya Dutta appear intermittently with nothing substantial to do. Direction is routine and the locations, except a couple of passing ones, have no identification with Ghaziabad or the district. Cinematography is below par while editing is slack. Except for one item number, Baap ka maal…, music has no appeal. The fights are repetitive and the kind seen in many South remakes recently.

Zila Ghaziabad is a poor fare, the kind they stopped making by 1980. It has been received very well in Ghaziabad and neighbouring districts but is poor elsewhere.

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