You’ve got a friend

Having read Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of my Life a few years ago, I imagined the storyline of Kai Po Che to be largely surprise-free, and not being a fan of book-based fare in general, I wondered what else the film could possibly offer by way of entertainment. A chance viewing proved both refreshing and memorable.

By Enid Parker

Published: Wed 20 Feb 2013, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:50 AM

When good friends Omi, Ishaan and Govind embark on the life-changing (some would say coming of age) step of starting their own business – a sporting goods store/cricket academy in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, little do they imagine how their respective destinies will unravel in the process – for better or worse.

Fun loving, quick tempered Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput in his debut film role) takes charge of coaching cricket-crazy kids and finds a prospective batting prodigy in Ali, a taciturn youngster with whom breaking the ice is not easy. Meanwhile the studious Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) oversees shop business with Omi (Amit Sadh).

Will their friendship be able to withstand the trials that adulthood and responsibility bring? Will financial issues, a natural disaster and communal disturbances drive them apart or bring them closer together?

Even when these questions are answered, it is the emotions behind actual incidents and not unfolding events themselves that leave a lasting impression on viewers.

The script (co-written by Bhagat), while not sticking strictly to the book’s plot, still manages to breathe new life into a poignant, humorous and oft tragic tale that captures the spirit of Ahmedabad in ways many people familiar with the city can relate to.

Happily for the multi-cultural crowd watching the movie, UTV’s English subtitles were clever, non-literal translations which will no doubt add to the film’s universal appeal.

The songs, though easy on the ears, hinder rather than aid the flow of the story; a background score would have sufficed here. Having said that, the ‘garba’ sequence showcasing Navratri, one of Gujarat’s most popular festivals, added a colourful local touch to the film.

All three leads are brimming with intensity - Amit Sadh’s Omi is brooding, silent and in a state of almost constant turmoil, a performance which may leave you wondering where Amit ends and Omi begins.

The unassuming Raj Kumar Yadav makes for a quietly convincing Govind, the most practical and business minded of the three who nevertheless takes time out for a clandestine romance with Ishaan’s sister Vidya (a perky Amrita Puri).

Sushant Singh Rajput, already a well known face on Indian television, steals the show as laidback, wisecracking, big-hearted Ishaan whose deep love for cricket borders on respect and whose friends (including little Ali) mean the world to him. Of course it doesn’t hurt that (and this is for the girls) he has a smile to die for.

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