22 April, 2014

Two States : A Mating Of Minds

Chetan Bhagat writes ordinary books that are best sellers. Karan Johar makes ordinary movies which are blockbusters. When such extraordinarily ordinary people get together we get a movie like Two States. It’s a perfect mating of minds. 

The author with his earlier books did not have such a great ride. His best book so far “One Night At The Call Centre” met a sad fate at the hands of a poor director like Atul Agnihotri who murdered the book. His next best and first work (Five Point Someone) was heavily re written by Abhijat Joshi, Ayan Mukherji, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani into a super script and then they added the star quotient of Aamir Khan. Net result, 3 Idiots, the most stupendous moneymaker in a long long time and a fun cinematic experience totally. But the credit was in fine print and ended up in a public spat with the filmmakers. Gattu (Abhishek) Kapoor another wonderful director decided he didn't need star power with “The Three Mistakes Of My Life" and made Kai Po Che, got critical acclaim and averaged returns. KJo is a smarter business brain who identified that he needed, one - a good director and two - a star factor ( not costing as much as an Aamir Khan though) & only if both are in place then and only then would the project be absolutely assured of a positive ROI .

“Two States” is a humdrum tale (Bhagat calls it the story of his marriage...gimme a break) of a Punjabi Munda meeting a Madraasi ponnu ( naah correction Tamilian ) in the IIM Ahmedabad campus over watery sambar. She opts for his company and chicken instead, they study together sometime, have great sex the other times, sing songs in the campus (that’s what campuses and corridors are for in Karan Johar enterprises, so what if its IIM Ahmedabad, is it that sacred?) and then decide to upgrade their status from “Friends with benefits” to “Committed” to “I want to marry you, even if I propose to you while you are being interviewed on Placement day”. Punju and Tamilian is an excuse for melodrama and caricatured stereotypes. Give them great clothes and we have the city audience in the bag, the melodrama would ensure the non-metro audiences are not excluded from making their just contributions at the ticket counters. Add in an extra marriage for good measure. A marriage makes every Indian amenable towards a movie. We shall have clashes for sometime then each one on both sides who opposes shall be won over by the prospect from the other side. It is fashionable to have a child parent discord issue, dysfunctional families are in these days. Then when the dysfunctional parent in one dramatic moment resolves all the problems that really weren't we shall have the happily ever after ending.  

Q. Does the movie work?
A. Yes, despite all the taam jhaam from above, quite well in fact, why,
 here’s why? 

a) Abhishek Varman the director has done a fantastic job on the screenplay, he has dumped the chaff and retained the wheat and rice . After all that’s what’s the tale is about; Rice N Wheat.  

b) Aaliya Bhatt , every single moment that she is in the frame, the screen lights up. It is nascent star power on its way to potency. Arjun Kapoor does a decent job but you realize what he does not have when the two are together in one frame. She is star material while he can at best become and remain a hardworking actor. Their pairing works though.

c) The support cast is stellar for whatever portions they find screen space. The second half has us seeing them more and that’s what makes the movie endearing. Revathi Menon and Shivkumar Subramanian as Ananya’s parents, the Tam Bram’s, are superb, Amrita Singh as the over the top Punjabi mom is wonderful and Ronit Roy as Krish’s father does a restrained act and looks the part. There are others like Achint Kaur as Amrita Singh's sister who fleets in and out of scenes with little explanation given as to why her side of the family has invited Ronit Roy’s ire.

d) Songs are good and with "Locha-E-Ulfat" already popular. The music is the rhythmic vehicle that shall connect this movie  with the audience who has not seen the movie. Shankar Ehsan and Loy have woken up after a long nap to give good music here uniformly across the entire soundtrack. Amitabh Bhattacharya's lyrics are young and zingy.

e) The costume designers and image designers who have constructed the look of both the Munda and the Ponnu deserve a pat on the back. The clothes are as much a part of the winning combination as the sets are. And then there is the IIM Ahmedabad building and campus, who would ever want to improve on Charles Correa’s architecture ? It’s a sublime structure that makes its mark whenever it’s on screen in full or part.

This movie shall lay to rest the question that’s plaguing Karan Johar for long, on who has the better star potential (brighter future is how he addresses it on his Koffee show ) Parineeti or Aaliya? In my opinion both have the star factor but Aaliya is doing a much better job on film selection that has put her in the lead already; both on the critical and commercial fronts. 

As for the movie, It certainly is a good watch for sure, much better than the book was as a read. It will only endorse the fact that Hindi cinema blockbusters would rarely ever be about the story, but shall always be about the star power. 

1 comment:

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