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2 States: movie review

Alia and Arjun are endearing but not entirely convincing

  | May 08, 2014 21:06 IST

Rating:

<i>2 States</i>: movie review
  • Cast:
    Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amrita Singh, Revathi, Ronit Roy, Shiv Subramaniam
  • Director:
    Abhishek Varman
SPOILERS AHEAD

The unabashed shallowness of a Chetan Bhagat book meets the inane glitter of a Karan Johar-Sajid Nadiadwala production in 2 States.

The result is the creation of a third state ? the state of overpowering indolence.

If the inordinate length of 2 States isn?t bad enough, its soporific tempo certainly is.

2 States is a cross-culture love story that strives to be sweet, funny and emotionally wrenching all at once.

It is occasionally funny and sweet in parts all right, but the family drama at the film?s core has a severely stultified feel.

It tracks the bearable but hardly exhilarating journey of a madly-in-love, culturally dissimilar couple as they make their way from the first stirrings of love to the serious and complex chores that surround betrothal and marriage.

The story crisscrosses the country ? from Ahmedabad to Delhi to Chennai and then back to Delhi and finally to Chennai again ? as the lovebirds struggle to get their respective families to accept their relationship.
Amid all the to-ing and fro-ing, the narrative trajectory of the now-on, now-off vibes between the pair and their families sinks into dreary monotony.

Debutant director Abhishek Varman?s adaptation of Bhagat?s characteristically facile but dispiritingly popular story is at best a pretty looking film with a likeable young lead pair that thrives on staying within their limitations.

Talking of limitations, 2 States is hamstrung primarily by the vacuity of its pivotal situations.
The film does have some moments of inspiration, like when the hero, armed with four rings, proposes collectively to the girl?s family over lunch. But these are too few and far between to add up to much in the final analysis.

The trouble is that the impending wedding remains impending far too long to sustain interest.

Halfway through the second half, one desperately wants the rigmarole to be over and done with.

But no, just when it all seems to have been sewn up nice and proper, the boy?s cranky mom throws the spanner in the works and it is back to square one again.

For all its attempts to whip up dramatic conflict and some degree of urgency, the storyline is hopelessly low on fuel.

?Story mein hero na ho, story hero honi chahiye (the story need not have a hero, but the story should be the hero),? the male protagonist declares airily to his girlfriend.

2 States does have a hero, handsome, bespectacled, earnest and ambitious. It is the story that is the weak link.

Straight-laced Punjabi boy Krish Malhotra (Arjun Kapoor) meets sprightly Tamil girl Ananya Swaminathan (Alia Bhatt) on the IIM-A campus. They become friends, study together in the girl?s hostel room, fall in love and jump into bed.

That, they discover, is the easiest part of getting to know each other. What lies ahead is far more intractable.

When they seek to break down the North-South divide and get hitched, they run into a host of stumbling blocks erected by their respective parents. The girl has a mind of her own and knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. But she wants her parents to be by her side when she ties the knot.

The boy is an aspiring writer who insists he wants to make pots of money. But the poor bloke can only yo-yo between his mother and the girl he wants to marry. These are standard genre situations ? nothing in 2 States suggests that what is unfolding on the screen has been adapted from an autobiographical bestseller.
The film, like the book, plays on the contrasts between the two sets of parents.

The girl?s music-loving mom (Revathy) and her retired bank officer dad (Shiv Subramaniam) are a conservative but well-adjusted couple from Chennai. The boy?s New Delhi family is severely dysfunctional and ugly spats between the parents are a daily occurrence.

The male protagonist loves his doting mother (Amrita Singh) but does not see eye to eye with his abusive father (Ronit Roy).

Yes, 2 States is just as much a film about a boy who wants to give his ex-soldier dad a hug. Sadly, the old man is an ogre. He drowns himself in alcohol, treats his wife like a load of dirt, and does nothing at all that could give his son a reason to take him into a warm embrace.

That is pretty much the story of the film itself ? it sets out to be a slice-of-life drama about a real couple grappling with the politics of inter-community marriage, but it fails to generate enough energy and warmth to draw the audience into a tight clinch.

2 States makes no heavy duty demands on Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

To their credit, the characters that they etch out are endearing enough, if not entirely convincing.
The veterans in the cast ? Revathy, Shiv Subramaniam, Amrita Singh and Ronit Roy ? bring effortless competence to the table. Unfortunately, they are stuck with roles that offer no scope for logical character development.

2 States is good for a one-time watch.
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