Director: Abhishek Varman
Pretty Tam Brahm ‘ponnu’ plus ‘hatta katta’ Punjabi munda equals to match made in heaven? If you go by ’2 States’, yes, but getting to it is long and arduous. The film sets out to be a solid, emotionally satisfying rom com, and goes well for a bit but then turns into a too-stretched-out ‘jhagda’ between the two sets of North-South parents. And the romance gets short shrift. (Pics of special screening of 2 States)
Krish Malhotra (Arjun Kapoor) and Ananya Swaminathan (Alia Bhatt) meet at IIM A and fall in love. It takes a while to reach the state where they want marriage, and that is all to the good. This part of the film is light and frothy, with both Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt rubbing off each other, and managing to generate some electricity while they tumble in and out of bed and class and graduating day ceremonies.
It’s the meet–the-parents aspect of the plot, based on Chetan Bhagat’s autobiographical novel of the same name, that becomes too much: just why are parents in this day and age so fiercely opposed to the union of ‘chicken’ and ‘sambhar’? Mr Malhotra (Ronit Roy) drinks and is obnoxious. Mrs Malhotra (Amrita Singh) feels that Ananya has ‘phansaaoed’ their ‘gora chitta ladka’. The truth is that Ananya is more ‘gori’ and ‘chitti’ than their sonny boy, and holds down an equally well-paying job. So what’s the problem?
Krish’s mom is submissive and passive-aggressive, like all good moms of boys who think their ‘laadla’ is being stolen away, but her downer against Ananya seems to have no real reason, just like in the book: culturally opposed parents may start off warring, but they also have ways of getting around these things without so much pointless sparring. Is this film coming out in 2014 or in the 60s?
The Swaminathans (Shiv Subramaniam and Revathy, well cast) live in Mylapore, and are the biggest cliche in the piece: they are grumpy and unfriendly, he drinks coffee and refuses to smile and she wears Kanjeevaram and does ditto, even though they come around to Krish faster than his parents to Ananya. South Indians can scowl and live in spare homes and sing Carnatic music, but the film exaggerates both the cultural specificities and the spurious differences.
When the going is good, both Kapoor and Bhatt, she more than he, rise above the film’s flaws. He has a few good moments. But Alia Bhatt is a surprise. She leaves behind her earlier films, and gets into her character: she may not be an authentic ‘Southie’ in terms of body language, but she is all girl, easy and fresh and natural.
It’s nice to see Bollywood attempting to create a contemporary young couple. I liked the way they proceed without fuss into that most modern of compacts — of attraction that leads to conjugation, minus coyness. It is done as just something that happens, a no-weightage progression. Which is why the parental ‘khit- khit’ seems, after a point, overdone and mothballed. The smooth, engaging first half descends, post-interval, into mopey melodrama, and I got impatient waiting for the inevitable resolution.
Get the outdated folks out of the way, make it crisper, and show us what Krish and Ananya did next. I’m waiting.