Kapoor and Sons is a family drama that leaves you feeling you have been an observer of a real family. It is the story of accepting that family members have weaknesses, but on the other side of disappointment, our family’s love helps us cope and rise above them. This film is not a typical Bollywood film, in that it is more of a realistic character study of a modern family. The drama is understated and the story unfolds as daily life does. In the second half of the movie old wounds and secrets appear and the groundwork laid in the first half will leave you touched emotionally by the movie.
Writer (along with Ayesha Dhillon) and director, Shakun Batra introduce each member of the Kapoor family to us slowly, letting us form first impressions: Rahul, the successful son; Arjun, the younger son who has not quite lived up to his potential; Sunita, the underappreciated mother struggling to be reassured of her worth; and, Harsh, the critical and overwhelmed father.
When grandpa Kapoor has a heart attack, grandsons Rahul and Arjun are called back to India after a five year absence. Parents Sunita and Harsh seem to favor their eldest son Rahul who has made them proud. Rahul who lives in London, has found success with a best-selling novel. His parents see him as responsible and mature, the “perfect son”. Fawad Khan’s Rahul is perfectly played. Aided by his handsome good looks and mature manner, he does indeed seem like he has his life all together. His emotion is raw and real when he finally erupts, revealing his true self to his mother; a powerful performance. Arjun, on the other hand, has been a disappointment to them. Also a novelist, Arjun has yet to make his mark. He makes ends meet designing websites and working as a part-time bartender in the United States. In Sidharth Malhotra’s Arjun, we see the hurt and resentment that are easily triggered by his family’s assumptions buried just under the surface.
Ratna Pathak is Sunita Kapoor, is a middle-aged woman who dreams of being more than a housewife. She intends to go into business as a caterer and she has saved towards this end for years. Harsh, is unsupportive, and at times, mocks the idea that Sunita can be more than a wife and mother. Sunita’s bitterness and resentment becomes continuous bickering and unhappiness. Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) has been worn down by years of financial strain and guilt over an affair. Their marriage is at the breaking point.
Mischievous Amarjeet (Rishi Kapoor), 90 year-old Kapoor patriarch, wanders in and out of senility and a second childhood. He senses, with sadness, the disintegration of his family. In his attempt to bring his family together, Dadu expresses a wish to his grandsons, that the family sit for a photo to be titled “Kapoor & Sons, since 1921”. Our last character is not a Kapoor, but a neighbor who has come to sell her parents house. Tia (Alia Bhatt) is attracted to both Rahul and Arjun. She is sweet and lively. While Arjun often shares his annoyance with his family, Tia, an orphan, reminds him that he should appreciate them more.
Kapoor and Sons was produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions who often does big family melodramas. The best scenes in Kapoor and Sons happen when the family as an ensemble, are together. Mention should also be given to the cinematographer, Jeffery Bierman, for introducing us to Coonoor, a beautiful green hill station in Tamil Nadu known for its tea plantations. The film has several songs that fit into the story quite nicely: two party songs, Kar Gayi Chull and Buddhu Sa Mann, and a pretty lyrical ballad Bolna.