2 States is a simple romantic comedy with some wonderful moments – 3.5/5.0

2 States is about a normal couple with an enormously normal obstacle in their excessively normal love story. The story of Ananya and Krish, these 2 characters from 2 states is a 4 act great Indian wedding tamasha. This is perhaps the reason why this film is immensely enjoyable. Its simplicity is its biggest asset.

The first act is set in Ahmedabad in the IIM campus. The lead characters are introduced and their romance is set-up. It tries to be real as much as it can and juggles some lovely moments with some bland ones. Krish and Ananya are played by Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Both put their most likeable foot forward.

At the completion of their 2-year programme, where they canoodled more than studied, the parents meet and anti-sparks fly. The Punjabi family and the Tamilian family don’t see eye to eye and the main conflict of the film kicks in. Krish and Ananya embark on a mission to make their families love everyone, hoping for a happily ever after.

The second act shifts to Chennai where Krish tries to make Ananya’s family like him. It is quite refreshing to see Chennai in a mainstream Bollywood film. Delhi and Bombay have been overdone; Kolkata has also got its due. Chennai and Bangalore are always left out. This act ends with a wonderful scene where Krish proposes marriage to the family.

The third act is set in Delhi and the now we see Amrita Singh portray her version of the Punjabi mother. She is one of the better features of the film. Moreover, the best strand of the film is the sub-plot of Krish’s family and his relationship with his father played by Ronit Roy. It’s brave of Chetan Bhagat to have written this and Abhishek Varman to have filmed this with affection and rigour. I haven’t seen such superlative depiction of a dysfunctional family in a Hindi film.

The fourth act, well, this is where the film needed that extra bit of cinematic verve to truly come alive. For me, it just fell short. While there were some heartwarming moments, there was also a bit of melodrama.

For those not living in a cave, it is well known that 2 States is based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name. Cinematically, the film is a bit of a let down. The text is not given enough breathing space to rise above and soar. At several places, the film looks like it’s been shot by a camcorder. The framing device of the protagonist narrating his tale just doesn’t work.

Then again, the problem with 2 States is not as much in the film as it is in the story. Sure, the story is simple but it is also hardly anything special. It just hits the right notes, mostly safe ones. Except for the father-son relationship where not a single cliché is to be found. The film could have done with more charm. It could have done with more feeling, especially near the end. But when we see the lovers share a moment which is fantastically underplayed, the could haves and should haves disappear.

The two songs that struck a chord with me are Chaandaniya and Mast Magan. Offo and Iski Uski are sprightly songs and make things light when needed. Locha-E-Uflat could have found my approval if not for that weird hand rolling step and the utterly confounding title.

Bollywood mainstream films have successfully married the South masala films in the recent past. It only makes sense for us to get a film about a North Indian-South Indian union. Inter-state romance is not new for Bollywood. From Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) to Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Ra.One (2011) and Vicky Donor (2012), it’s been a constant ingredient. Last year we had Chennai Express, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein and Raanjhanaa. Although, their plots weren’t centered on their ethnicity. 2 States brings our nation’s casteist nature to the forefront. Let’s be honest, India isn’t exactly United States of India. Even the most educated and metropolitan city-folk glorify the differences as if it’s something to be proud of. The realization that we can’t help but be united does kick in ultimately.

In hindsight, the nitpicks I had with the film decrease and the fact that the film leaves a good aftertaste lingers. You feel like you have been on a journey with Krish and Anaya. And of course, their families. I would recommend you go and take this journey with them. Go with your family, of course.

By – Nikhil Arora


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