Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Of Realistic Stereotypes

2 STATES (2014)

Produced By: UTV Motion Pictures
Director: Abhishek Varman based on the best-selling novel by Chetan Bhagat
Starring: Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amrita Singh, Ronit Roy, Revathy and others
Pros: Simple story, good lesson
Cons: Mostly boring songs, cliched storyline
Rating: *** of 5 (3 of 5)

India - one country, many nations. Even if you are not a sociologist, you don't have to think too much to understand what that means. And just as building a country out of disparate nations is a hard task, building a successful relationship between two families from two of India's least similar nations - Tamil Nadu and Punjab - is a daunting task especially when left to two young lovers. 2 States, based on Chetan Bhagat's novel of the same name, picks up from that theme in a funny yet meaningful story that in many ways defines modern India and the huge generation gap in between.

The movie comes with a simple story that will not tax viewers excessively - just sit back and watch. But then again, it is not one of those mindless comedies either. You don't have to be Punjabi or Tamil to understand it - virtually any Indian will be able to make sense of the movie. And it is this inherent simplicity that makes it a good movie. And of course, its lesson on nation-building leaves an important lesson: a nation is not built in the hallowed portals of officialdom but in every home across the country.

Sadly, although the story is good, its presentation is horribly cliched. Many of the jokes, particularly those on the complexion of Tamils, is downright racist and in very poor taste, coming right from the pathetic pages of Chetan Bhagat. Even for Bollywood, this is a low. While some cliches cannot be avoided, the director could have been more creative in highlighting the cultural difference between the mothers-in-law. But he lazily stuck to the book. The music does not help much and it is a pain in the first half. Only in the second half does the music come to some good (Chandaniya in particular).

On acting, Amrita Singh puts up a grand performance despite a very limited character. Arjun Kapoor manages to do a decent job but Alia Bhatt comes out very poorly, with her acting completely falling apart the moment her character steps out of college. Overall, a film that is worth watching if you have nothing better to do. (OTFS)

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