There have been many films in recent memory on sub-cultures clashing in Hindi cinema (Vicky Donor and, er, Chennai Express). So we can be forgiven then for feeling a sinking sense of deja vu when 2 States takes us down that familiar path of ostentatious Punjabis vs non-Punjabis. But thankfully, there are two saving graces in 2 States (well, maybe more than two but we all love a soundbite, na?) – the first was the storyline of the estranged father-son relationship which slowly comes to the fore in the second half and makes for some gripping viewing. I thought the relationship depicted was genuinely engaging and gave the film a strong emotional core which it badly needed.
The second is in minimizing the dependency on the book – 2 States is at its most successful when it uses Bhaghat’s novel as a starting point and allows the on screen action to take on a life of its own and to reach a natural conclusion with seemingly minimal force. So it is a shame then when the screenplay tries to shoehorn in some lip service to the book or exhausts the clash of cultures to ad nauseam. There was also a song too many for my liking (yes Punjabi chicken dance wedding song, I mean you) which could easily have been trimmed out to make for a leaner film.
The cast bring their A-game to the table to great effect – Kapoor is likeable and unforced, almost a little too comfortable but by no means bad. Alia is very good too, bringing a freshness and gravitas to a very straightforward character. I also thought Amrita Singh and Revathy were very good in their roles, carefully managing to endear the audience without compromising the integrity of their characters. However, it is Ronit Roy as Krish’s father who gives a wonderfully nuanced and understated performance that evokes a gamut of emotions and makes his character come to life.
I do wish 2 States had spent less time on playing to the gallery as this would have made for a stronger film. Having said that though, when I was connected to 2 States, I found it to be a charming and thoroughly modern rom-com with a very broad appeal that is at once its trump card and Achilles heel. This is one of those films you will either be on board with or won’t be able to stand – strange then that I found myself liking and irritated by it simaltaneously but it will be interesting to see if it improves or sinks upon repeat viewing. Give it a try – not the game changer we may have wanted but certainly not unwatchable either.