Bromance flicks can be so annoying. That regular trio of boys having all those self doubts about their careers, love lives, families and even worse, about life's meaning as they cruise through silly pranks, break-offs, drunken brawls and adventure sports. Thankfully, although its marketing suggests otherwise, 'Kai Po Che!' isn’t at all like that. And if one went to the film expecting it to be a frilly carefree film about male friendship like 'Dil Chahta Hai' or 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' or even 'Three Idiots', one would indeed be sorely disappointed. One could also expect the film to be a cricket saga like Iqbal or 'Lagaan' and still be disappointed.
'Kai Po Che!' is different. Its protagonists are young, gritty Gujarati entrepreneurs determined to jumpstart their own sports academy. Govind (Raj Kumar) is the brain, math and caution behind the venture, Omi (Amit Sadh) its political backbone and Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) its cricketing genius. Omi’s mama Bittoo Joshi is the trustee of a local temple and a political leader for the Bhartiya Janhit Party. With Mama’s support, the trio sets up sports training and a shop in the temple premises and land. The academy starts becoming popular and our heroes are able to attract a lot of local talent, including a young Muslim cricketing prodigy called Ali. Ishaan takes Ali under his wing and is determined to make him a National sports star. But natural and political circumstances get in the way.
However, 'Kai Po Che!' isn’t a film about just their success story either. Through its protagonists, this film narrates a story about Gujarat, its energy, its industry, the overwhelming backdrop of its everyday unspoken communal biases, the tragedies and atrocities its people have faced.
Those who have read Chetan Bhagat’s novel 'Three Mistakes of My Life' could say they know what to expect. But even on that count, 'Kai Po Che!' is unexpected.
The performances are superb. Sushant Singh makes a remarkable debut as the crux of the plot while Amit Sadh is endearing, aware and uncertain of his mixed loyalties. But it’s Raj Kumar’s Govind who is the most powerful; he’s a delight, in his control as well as his uncontrol.
Perhaps Bhagat’s involvement in the script has helped. Perhaps not. Abhishek Kapoor’s 'Kai Po Che!' is mellow in its mood but loud in its message. It is simple, colourful and vibrant but it doesn’t shirk from portraying the grey, the black and the complex. But most of all, Kai Po Che! doesn’t sit on the fence; it neither shies away from blaming nor from forgiving. And for a Hindi film, that’s quite something.