Thursday 29 September 2016
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2 States

Just the first 40-odd minutes is what works for the film, the 40 minutes of love and courtship.

Starring: Aalia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Ronit Roy, Amrita Singh, Revathy, Shiv Kumar Subramaniam
Directed by Abhishek Varman
Rating: **

A lot many times you wish Hindi films were short, that they wrapped up in 90 minutes and had no interval at all. In the case of 2 States, the patience doesn’t even last that long. Just the first 40-odd minutes is what works for the film, the 40 minutes of love and courtship. Delhi-Punjabi boy Krish (Arjun) meets Chennai girl Ananya (Aalia) over some bad sambar and good rosogolla in the IIM canteen and love begins to blossom at once. The girl is spiri­ted, fun and extremely likeable, the boy is likeable because he is so visibly in love with her. The give-’n-take is cute, conversations sweet and believable. Little moments make you smile, the superbly shot song Locha-e-ulfat lends just the right boost of energy and romance to the proceedings. In a nutshell, you do get charmed by the familiar high of young love.

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And then comes the big question: that of marriage. Parents step in with a vengeance and the narrative begin to disintegrate and deteriorate in alarming fashion. The scene in which two culturally different families meet for the first time is handled quite well, the initial discomfort and prejudices are something one can relate to. But from then on the film lapses into a hyper, over-the-top tale of opposition, reconciliation, opposition and reconciliation all over again, which turns out more wearisome than compelling or engaging.

Yes, this may happen to a lot of cross-cultu­ral lovers in India. But 2 States doesn’t rise above the essential banality of it all to become compelling cinema. In fact, it keeps making one long for Vicky Donor, which provided a far more winsome and realistic portrayal of the clash of cultures. 2 States lapses into familiar cliches and stereotypes, which may potentially end up upsetting both Punjabis and Tamilians. Or perhaps not—if they are diehard Bollywood addicts and don’t take its takes on real life too seriously. Things get stretched needlessly, with a  dowry spiel and a fam­ily vacation gone awry thrown in, as also some unnecessary songs, a Punjabi wedding and the usual naach-gaana. The pair that you did care for in the beginning begins to get tiresome. Somewhere you stop caring for their fortunes, are not bothered whether they get married at all or not.

And then there’s also the subplot of a bad dad (Ronit Roy, made for the role, with an Udaan behind him) suddenly turning good and helping out the estranged son. Why this sudden change of heart? And how? However, long after having watched the film, I am still wondering about another question: what purpose did the psychiatrist and her couch serve in the film? Clumsy touch that!

The Self-Limiting Curve Akhilesh Jaiswal
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