The most difficult part of this review is going to be the beginning. I have just walked out of Screen 4 @ PVR Mulund feeling overawed by the performances from 5 brilliant actors and a sincere but not so talented one. I am also confused because I don’t feel the thrill that I felt after Highway or Queen.
There was something missing in 2 States and the only thing I am able to attribute it to is the story. Chetan Bhagat’s 2009 best seller (yeah right!!!) has taken 5 years to be adapted to the big screen. Maybe it was the delay in getting it to the screen that made the story a wee bit stale and prompts me to ask, “Whats new”?
A Punjabi guy falling in love with a Tamil girl and the complications that go along with it is a story that most of us have been bought up on. There was the attempt to make it contemporary by setting it in 2014. I think that makes it even more difficult to relate to. It may have been best set in the 1990s like the book. Probably the reason I felt a bit incomplete at the end of 2.5 hours.
People of my vintage could see the humour in parts but most of the audience was actually laughing at the most slapstick or corny one liners. In fact, the point at which I gave up on the audience was when in the backstory of Krish (Arjun Kapoor) and his father (Ronit Roy). An intense scene wherein a son slaps his father was trivialized with the maximum laughter – and we wonder why film makers continue to make average cinema?
2 States was written as a biopic – the story of CB and his wife. The big fat Punjabi hot blooded family meeting with the conservative South Indian one. A story that is fraught with stereotyping at every corner – another reason for the disappointment probably. The South Indian Iyer in me probably lost it at, “Tum South Indian ke dil bhi tumhare gharon ki tarah hote hain. Bilkul Khaali” (South Indian hearts are as empty as their houses).
I guess debutante director, Abhishekh Varman, could not have done much other than get his casting right because the story was not ground breaking. And he does that to perfection. Amrita Singh as the Punjabi mother who thinks that her son is the center of the universe is brilliant. I am going to stick my neck out and say that it has been her best performance to date and I include Chameli Ki Shaadi and Saaheb in the list.
Ronit Roy as the degenerate borderline alcoholic father is super intense. My respect for him after Udaan had increased manifold and he does everything in his limitation to get it a notch higher. He is composed and totally in control. Shiv Subramaniyam and Revathi as Ananya’s (Alia Bhat) conservative South Indian parents are perfect for the role. They bring out the finer nuances of a Tam Brahm Iyer family exceedingly well.
That brings us to Arjun Kapoor who is the sincere and not so talented one referred to in the first paragraph. In his 4th movie shows minor signs of improvement and is committed to his role as the son who is caught between pleasing the love of his life and his mother – a situation that most of us would be familiar with.
And I save the best for the last. For a person who is just turned 21 and is in her 3rd movie Alia Bhat is quickly getting to the level of Bollywood Queen. There is no questioning her talent. She does struggle through the Tamil lines but the Abhishekh Varman does enough to ensure that focus moves away from Alia in these situations.
Alia brightens up the screen in every single shot and totally takes away the focus from the rest of the cast. The only instance where she is challenged in any manner is when she shares space with Ronit Roy for a few seconds. We have on our hands a super star in the making. I only hope she makes the right choices going forward.
In all, 2 States is a movie that survives on its performances. It is more or less true to the book but does make a few changes and I am not just talking about the songs (which are average). It could have been cut by 20-25 minutes with a more seasoned director but Varman does a good job overall. 6 on 10 is say. Worth a dekko.
Watch the trailer on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGyAaR2aWcA