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Komal Nahta’s Review: We Are Family

Star cast: Kajol, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal.

Plot: Kajol and Arjun Rampal are divorced. Kajol brings up their three kids. Arjun is in love with Kareena and wants to marry her. Then a life-changing incident happens which forces the three adults to live under one roof.

What’s Good: The performances of Kajol and Kareena; some emotional scenes post-interval.

What’s Bad: The un-Indian subject; the screenplay; the music is below the mark.

Verdict: We Are Family will not work at the box-office except in select multiplexes of the big cities. But that’s just not enough.

Loo break: Several.

SPE Films India Pvt. Ltd., Dharma Productions Pvt. Ltd. and UTV Motion Pictures’ We Are Family is the story of Maya (Kajol) who is divorced from her husband, Aman (Arjun Rampal). She has three children whom she dotes on – Aliya (Aanchal Munjal), Ankush (Nominath Ginsburg) and Anjali (Diya Sonecha). The happy world of Maya and her three children is disturbed when Aman introduces his girlfriend, Shreya (Kareena Kapoor), to the family.

Even as there is tension between Maya and Shreya, an unexpected news changes the lives of all of them. Maya and Shreya now have to live under the same roof, with Aman and the kids. Can the two ladies run the home? What is Maya’s stance? And how is Shreya going to adjust to the three kids? Answers to these questions are revealed in the latter part of the film.

Remake of the Hollywood film, Stepmom, the film has some heart-wrenching emotions post-interval. Even the scenes between Shreya and Maya and between Shreya and the kids in the first half are brilliantly written and evoke reaction from the audience. However, the screenplay (originally penned by Gigi Levangie, Jessie Nelson, Steven Rogers, Karen Leigh Hopkins and Ron Bass) as also Venita Coelho’s adapted screenplay falter at many important points as the drama fails to completely address the Indian audience. In that sense, the screenplay seems like a manipulated or tailored one which is rather simplistic.

But before one dwells upon the flaws in the script, one major point: the script is quite un-Indian because the concept of a divorced couple coming together again and living together harmoniously is alien to the majority of the Hindi film-going audience. Likewise, the concept of the wife and the mistress living under the same roof may not go down too well with the Indian audience. Even if one were to accept that circumstances forced Maya, Shreya and Aman to stay together, the orthodox audience may accept the two ladies living jointly, but Aman returning to his wife after leaving his mistress would seem difficult for them to digest. For, the first thought that comes to mind is, if Aman were such an understanding human being, why, in the first place, did he and Maya divorce each other. Having said that, it also appears too simplistic and too much of a fairy-tale solution to the huge problem shown in the film. For, Maya is then shown to be having the best of both the worlds – she has her husband, although divorced, living with her; her kids are, of course, always with her; and additionally, she now has Shreya also living with her. No doubt, the life-changing incident is quite terrible but the emotional impact of the incident is greatly reduced by these factors or, in other words, comfort levels.

Besides, the life-changing and unexpected incident leads to Aman having such a change of heart that it seems too good to be true. The news of the incident is broken too soon to the three kids, after which every character in the film is on the same level and so, there’s not much to be revealed. It would’ve been far more interesting and emotional if the three children had got to know about the incident one by one.

It is not clear why Maya asks Aman to not reveal the news to Shreya. Maybe, Maya doesn’t want Shreya’s sympathy but that point is not clear enough. In the absence of a solid reason for not letting Shreya know it, the request by Maya to Aman looks like a screenplay hook, to be used later. And, the hook is indeed used later! Again, it seems a bit too hard to believe that the kids would not understand why Shreya was being brought into the house, given that they were aware of the incident that had transpired.

Maya getting Shreya home for a purpose and then almost forcing Shreya to leave in a jiffy also does not look believable because she would definitely control her emotions, whatever the instigation. And, in the first place, one doesn’t even understand whether it was a slip on the part of Shreya (which could’ve proved disastrous) which led Maya to force her to leave, or plain jealousy. If it was a slip, Maya could’ve handled the situation far more maturely because she is shown to be a lady who is very clear in her thoughts. And if it was jealousy, well, Maya should’ve had no option but to control her jealous streak.

There is also an issue about the placement of some scenes. Aliya going clandestinely for a beer-and-guys party at night, when the atmosphere at home is depressing and sad, doesn’t ring true. No doubt, that sequence is tailored to show the humane side of Shreya to Maya, but while that purpose is achieved, the placement of Aliya’s party scene leaves a lot to be desired. A similarly ill-timed scene is the one in which Shreya and the kids have fun on the dining table the second time over, by throwing noodles at one another. Neither is that scene so funny that the public would end up laughing a lot nor is its timing correct for that to happen. In fact, the film lacks comedy and, therefore, ends up being heavy and emotional, something the youth and the masses would not approve of.

On the plus side, the scenes between Shreya and the kids initially, when there’s animosity between them, as also between Maya and Shreya are well-written. The last few reels are full of emotional scenes which will make the ladies and families cry.

Kajol lives her character and does a fantastic job. She shines in dramatic and emotional scenes and delivers a noteworthy performance. Kareena Kapoor is also excellent. She handles her role with a great deal of maturity. Arjun Rampal doesn’t have much to do but he does whatever is expected of him, well enough. While he would be liked by the elite audience, the viewers in the smaller cities would not think much of him. Aanchal Munjal acts with a rare maturity. Diya Sonecha is extremely cute and does a wonderful job. Nominath Ginsburg is effective. Amrita Prakash is okay.

Siddharth P. Malhotra’s direction may be mature for a first-timer, but his choice of the un-Indian subject is not. Having opted for the difficult subject, he should’ve taken more care of the scripting. He has handled the confrontation and emotional scenes with elan. A good dose of comedy would’ve made a world of a difference to the film.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are not in form this time. Their music falls short of expectations as well as of the high standards set by the Dharma banner brand. Irshad Kamil and Anvita Dutt Guptan’s lyrics are good but not great. Mohanan’s camerawork is remarkable. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is sharp. Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues are lovely.

On the whole, We Are Family will fail to make a mark at the box-office. It will meet with different responses from different sections of the audience. By and large, it will be liked by the high-class ladies and balcony-class audience but not by the youngsters and the masses. Its business in only select multiplexes in the big cities will be good in the weekend but the business in the other multiplexes, most single-screen cinemas and smaller cities and towns will leave a lot to be desired.

- By Komal Nahta

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