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2 States: No Cultural Chauvinism Please!

Posted on the 18 April 2014 by Haricharanpudipeddi @pudiharicharan

Movie: 2 States

Director: Abhishek Varman

Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Ronit Roy, Amrita Singh, Shiv Kumar Subramaniam, Revathy

Rating: ****

In spite of all the progress that a nation confesses to have made over the years, there is still an element of discomfort in acceptance of inter-culture/religion marriages. Filmmakers over the years have enjoyed the cinematic stress to convey that it’s the mutual connect of a couple that essentially makes the cut. But, in the process, they have managed only to severe the issue and tempt many storytellers to get induced into similar territories, even though recent examples like Chennai Express were only intended to make the audiences have a hearty laugh.

2 States is that necessary bridge in contemporary cinema that treads past the mundane, tiring portrayal of communities and religions. Though cultural chauvinism is not exactly what the entire film is about, it is a refreshing yet true-to-life norm-breaker that you had wished to take shape on screen. Ananya Swaminathan, a Tamilian who hails from a conservative Brahmin family in an instance orders a non-vegetarian dish and a beer in the morning much to the surprise of the caterer along with an equally baffled Krish Malhotra, born into a disturbed Punjabi family housed in Delhi. Sparks fly and hearts connect within no time. The mushy romantic moments don’t have much space. The film focusses on their commitment in spite of all the possible barriers that threaten to rip them apart.

The couple understands its responsibilities well. Both go on settle into well-paid jobs and Krish makes desperate efforts to please Ananya’s family and free them off the much-anticipated conflicts that is bound to cause trouble in future. It’s the emotional depth between them that sustains during these crises that impress. Krish corrects Ananya’s dad who wrongly pronounces Power Point Presentation to be a Plug Point Presentation and the latter doesn’t come to terms with the insult and in the fit of the moment badly abuses a rickshaw driver on the roads. Krish knows that he was actually the implicit target.

In a revenge-game of sorts, Amrita Singh puts through Alia Bhatt a similar test of patience. She messes up in the kitchen but wins hearts when she solves a dowry conflict in the marriage of Krish’s cousin . The film’s best instances lie in the undermined relationship between Krish and his father. The male-lead’s dad abuses his mother mentally, physically on a daily basis and the latter is used to it. The dad-son duo hardly talks. The elder one isn’t in talking terms with his child for the reason of Krish getting physical with him years ago in a situation where his mother was merely putting through another day of abuse. The silence is built with such care that even their reunion in the end seemed too much of a fairy tale.

On the other side, the conservativeness of Ananya’s parents and the otherwise stable equation between Krish and Amrita Singh is depicted enough for you to enjoy the character variations laced with maturity. There’s also a warming balance of naughtiness and charm in the lines, thanks to the conflicts yet again. Abhishek Varman never lets the possible melodrama sink in whenever the obvious differences arise. He lets Alia Bhatt speak Hindi without an accent and Tamil only sparingly. Even if he rarely stereotypes Punjabis to be over-eating souls who wait for situations to move their feet and makes the characters remark Tamilians about their weird habits, colour, their fetish for making Sambar, he uses them to make peace ably too. The skirmishes are mocked, but the lessons are delivered.

Arjun Kapoor offers a reasonable display of his on-screen ease and composes himself with matured silence better than his flirtatious-doings to please Alia Bhatt, who in the meanwhile is extremely likeable as the free-spirited South-Indian girl if her looks don’t suggest so. Beyond them, Revathi and Amrita Singh are demanded with a lot of situations to put up expressions of frustration without overplaying them and they do so with utmost grace. Ronit Roy is once again a perfect choice as a disturbed father, thanks to a series of excellent casting decisions. After Abhishek Kapoor, it is Abhishek Varman backed by an excellent technical team inclusive of the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan Loy and Binod Pradhan’s cinematography who comes up with near-perfect visual adaptation of a cinematically amendable Chetan Bhagat novel, indeed a fitting companion to the written word. A winner on the cards and a possible classic to treasure for the times ahead, 2 States has enough wittiness and heart-tugging instances to sweep you off your feet.

Review by Srivathsan N, who had originally written it for Cinegoer.net

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