I want exactly seeing blockbusters while I was in Texas, and was often seeing my movies outside the 7pm-to-8pm hour that is sort of the prime start time, but it was still kind of stunning just how big the audience was for this compared to the other films I saw there. I was quite possibly alone for both Creative Control and Summer Camp - I think one or two people may have sneaked in behind me during the previews - and there was maybe one other group of three people behind ours at Eye in the Sky. For this one, though? Rear section will-populated when I got there with ten minutes or so to spare, and I wound up being bumped from my customary spot just right of Center in the last row of the front section because a family of six or seven wanted to sit together. I really should stop being surprised when movies that don't go through the mainstream American news and publicity channels (or the more genre-centric ones I tend to frequent).
I was glad, because audience reaction is a big part of why is better to see films in the theaters, and toss one was having a good time. Although I must admit, I did find one reaction curious.
A large chunk of the audience gasped when Sunita opened up Rahul's computer and saw photographs of her son and her boyfriend, though it didn't seem like it was exactly a big surprise to me. Part of it was that the guy seemed indifferent to Tia's interest despite her being crazy pretty and a lot of fun to be around besides. But part, I think, was just because I'm used to American movies of this type, where one member of a large family being gay is almost a given. Plus, there were some pretty strong signals - the girlfriend with the androgynous nickname ("Nicky") that nobody had ever seen, the choice for Sunita to phrase a question "what sort of person is this?", and a moment when Rahul tells Arjun there's something he hasn't told anyone. Pretty clear foreshadowing, right?
Maybe not in this context, though. I think I mentioned two or three Indian movies so that I couldn't recall any definitively gay characters in them even though there certainly were some flamboyant enough that I wondered if that's what the filmmakers were going for. It was still kind of weak representation - we never get a good look at Rahul's boyfriend, and the film never finds a moment for even Arjun to say that there's nothing wrong with him being gay. I've heard that parts of India can be fairly tough places for this, so maybe filmmakers are trying to go slowly on this count.
Enjoyable enough movie, at least, though I'm glad to finally be landing back in Boston as I write this and heading back up the Red Line to catch the trail end of BUFF over the weekend.
Kapoor and Sons
* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 March 2016 in AMC Stonebriar #4 (first-run, DCP)
Like a lot of movies where the filmmakers want to both celebrate family and build a story about what kind of stresses it can place on people, Kapoor and Sons can swing from one to the other fast enough to make a viewer wonder just what sort of weird compartmentalization these people are capable of. Thankfully, they pull this off better than most, and manage to make one where the last act melodrama is fairly well-earned, even if it does spend a lot of time in zany comedy getting there.
For a while, "Kapoor and Grandsons" seems like it may be a more appropriate title, as it is the hospitalization of Amarjeet "Dadu" Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor) a week or so shy of his 90th birthday that brings his expatriate grandkids home. Rahul (Fawad Khan) is a successful author living in London, while Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) is in New Jersey, currently bartending (he never sticks with anything very long) and polishing his first novel. After returning home, they both find their way to the house of the beautiful and funny Tia Mallik (Alia Bhatt) - Arjun for a party and Rahul looking to buy a place for an artists' retreat - and she seems to take a shine to both. Despite some issues between the pair in the past, they're mostly glad to see each other and Dadu, although it's clear that the tensions that exist between parents Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) and Sunita (Ratna Pathak) have, if anything, intensified since they last visited.
Dadu initially seems like one of the more tired stock comedy characters - the wacky old guy who swears and acts inappropriate to young women and otherwise horrifies his straight-laced family, but director Shakun Batra and co-writer Ayesha DeVitre see this coming from the very first scene and have his family show that he's always been like this, and he's been at his latest hobby of "rehearsing his death" for weeks. Dadu being this sort of rascal is never meant to shock, so his jokes at least have to be sort of good, if not groundbreaking. Rishi Kapoor does will by the character; he's got the requisite sense of innocent mischief and a nice way of delivering the punchline of a gag by implying that maturity is something he has rather grown out of, though it's not that far a pivot to being a sweet old man.
Full review on EFC.