Why ‘Kapoor and Sons’ is the New Direction Bollywood Must Take

kapoor and sons, brown girl

by Hera Ashraf 

Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt, Ratna Pathak, Rajat Kapoor
Direction: Shakun Batra
Length: 2 hours 25 min
My rating: 4.5/5

I entered the theater to watch “Kapoor and Sons,” expecting to watch a typical Dharma Productions film with good songs, pretty people, and an average to below average storyline. I walked out, however, overwhelmed with emotions and a sense of pride for Bollywood for creating such a real film.

Most of Bollywood’s box office successes revolve around weak plots, misogynistic item songs, and male lead characters. While I notice the misogynist themes in the most popular movies, the Bollywood enthusiast in me can’t help but watch and enjoy (ugh. it’s my guilty confession) these movies. I accepted the reality that out of 10 films I’ll watch, maybe, just maybe, two of them will be quality, worthwhile films while the others will just be money-making entertainment.

Needless to say, I had similar expectations for Karan Johar’s newest production, “Kapoor and Sons.” Expecting it to be some kind of a bad romantic comedy featuring some sort of love triangle, “Kapoor and Sons” turned out to be the realist film about family ever made in Bollywood.

The film features Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Ratna Pathak and Rajat Kapoor in main roles. Alia Bhatt is also in the film, but her character, Tia, isn’t a huge part of the overall story, so I wouldn’t consider her a lead in the film. While the movie doesn’t focus on the love story between Bhatt and Malhotra’s characters, it is nicely woven in throughout and doesn’t feel forced.

Malhotra plays Arjun Kapoor, younger brother of Fawad Khan’s character, Rahul Kapoor. Rahul is the perfect favorite child of the family, who is a successful author and always receiving praise from his parents. Arjun is a struggling writer who works part-time as a bartender to make end’s meet and the constant target for his parents’ lectures. While Arjun struggles with constantly being “second best” to his brother, Rahul struggles with maintaining his “perfect” label while hiding the biggest secret of his life. And while both brothers deal with their individual fights, they’re caught in between their parents’ fights and misunderstandings.

The film highlights the dysfunctions present in every family in one form or the other. It reminds us that problems in all family dynamics are normal, and abandoning family members because of it doesn’t leave anyone happy.

Besides portraying a normal, not glamorous family, director Shakun Batra doesn’t force anything into the film that isn’t necessary to tell the story. There are no spontaneous dance sequences, bad comedic timings, or unnecessary dramatic prolonged slow songs. Batra takes you on a relatable journey in which you are so emotionally invested that two hours seem to just fly by.

This is a step in the right direction that all commercial Bollywood films need to now take. Audiences are ready for refreshing scripts that they can connect with on a deeper level. “Kapoor and Sons” has paved the path for bigger budget films to create substance that isn’t just dependent on the Bollywood box office collection formula.

Hera Ashraf is a graduate with a Biology degree, hoping to pursue medicine. She is a self-proclaimed foodie with a passion for desserts. Coffee and Bollywood are her two most favorite things. She loves to read, even though she barely gets time for it anymore. Brown Girl Magazine allows her to write about the things she loves, and then shares it with the world. Her ultimate goal in life is to become a world wanderer.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›