Blame it on Farhan Akhtar for getting the Indian audience attuned to the larger than life stories of male friendships or emotionally infectious coming of the age films. It is courtesy films like Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On!! or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara that one yearns for friends for life, foreign trips, swanky cars, beautiful better halves and a well settled life after all ups and downs. However, reality usually is far from what has been shown and Abhishek Kapoor who has been credited for Rock On!! in the past presents a story which is completely paradoxical to his previous offering!
Kai Po Che is about three friends Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput), Omi (Amit Sadh) and Govind (Rajkumar Yadav) who are as diverse as chalk and cheese. While one is passionate, one is pragmatic and the third money minded. What keeps them together is their friendship. With help of some unaccounted cash by Omi's politician uncle Bittu Mama (Manav Kaul) in return of acting involvement in politics, the trio set up their sports shop. While Govind doubles up as a maths tuitor and seller, Ishaan coaches the yong kids of their locality and Omi gets assists his uncle in Politics. Their conflicting interests arise when Ishaan takes Ali (Digvijay Deshmukh) a novice cricketer under his wings, Omi who's lost his parents to Hindu-Muslim riots starts looking at people from other religion wrongly and Govind on the other hand starts falling for Ishaan's sister Vidya (Amrita Puri). Through the many trying times their friendship is tested.
One couldn't have claimed it to be a very wise choice to pick up one of the weakest cited works of Chetan Bhagat for an adaptation. However, Abhishek Kapoor takes up the task of removing all the unnecesary elements from core story that would've worked against it.
Despite many sub-plots that keep cropping up time and again the film at the heart still remains about friendship and does ample justice to it. Kai Po Che is devoid of any commercial angles of male bonding or coming of the age narratives that Hindi cinema has witnessed in the past. There's no snazzy appearance of it too. It instead dons the garb of simplicity and stays as true to real life as possible.
Never for once does the earthquake that had happened in Bhuj or the Godhra incident put the main plot at the backburner neither do the situations demand preachy or jingoistic treatment. They run concurrently aiding the main plot to its culmination.
Abhishek Kapoor's sensitive handling of the subject is abetted by the lilting background score and pleasing cinematography. Anay Goswami's camera caresses the contours of the backdrop and brings to fore a very charmingly real setting. Baylon Fonseca too is spot on with the background pieces. Probably the best background works this year. Music by Amit Trivedi takes the cake and is absolutely delightful.
Where Abhishek also scores an ace is his casting. The TV imports Sushant Singh Rajput and Amit Sadh is pleasantly fresh in their film lead debuts. However, it's Rajkumar Yadav that outshines the two with the many emotions that he effortlessly conveys. Manav Kaul as the manipulative mama is impressive while Amrita Puri too plays her part well.
Kai Po Che only takes a hit in its pace and lack of light hearted moments. The filmmaker languidly lingers onto each scene and despite that you don't quite connect with the characters to feel for them. Also the graph doesn't show too many highs and lows for an engaging journey.
The minor negatives however, cannot take away from the fact that Kai Po Che never for once commercialises and stays true to its soul. Watch it to witness one of the most realistic coming of the age films in the recent times.