- BOTTOM LINE
A Funny, Emotional Ode to Kanpur
|Platform: Hotstar||Genre: Comedy|
What Is the Story About?
Kanpuriye is a digital film that mirrors the vibe of Kanpur as a city. We see the city through the eyes of three 20s something lads Vijay Deenanath Chauhan, Jaitun Mishra and Jugnu Lampat. While Vijay, a budding non-happening lawyer fighting petty cases is named after Amitabh Bachchan’s popular on-screen name, Jaitun Mishra is trying to scale past his mediocre job in the leather industry. Jugnu Lampat, the son of a street-side comedian, wants to make it big as a chef through reality television. The three are in a quest to better their lives, personally and professionally. What does destiny have in store for them?
Kanpuriye finds the right balance of familiar actors and effective casting. The underdog vibe of the film is its lifeline and the cast understands the same. Aparshakti Khurana proves to be as effective (though not as versatile) as his popular actor-sibling Ayushman with humour. The sarcasm in his dialogue delivery, the variety in his mannerisms and the ability to get into the skin of the role complement the film so well.
Divyenndu breaks the regular stereotype of being cast as a Punjabi/Delhi-te and is equally at home playing the flawed small-city guy. Despite having grey shades to his role, his performance is real enough to make us empathise with him. Harsh Mayar, after a superb display of his slice-of-life acting in Gullak, brings forward a likeability to the aspirant-chef part. His quirky on-screen camaraderie with Vijay Raaz is indeed a delight to watch. Harshita Gaur and Rajshri Deshpande get well-defined roles, the latter continuing to surprise us with the versatility in her choices. Chittaranjan Tripathy, Vani Sood are fantastic while they last.
Not many filmmakers can claim their work to be a soul-healer for those who fail to make it big in life. Well, Ashish Aryan, a Kanpur-born himself, has just made one. This is like his love (or nearly a hate) letter to his hometown. The writer of the film in a line too says Kanpur owns the copyright for being the city of shattered dreams. Kanpuriye is the attempt of three men to rise above their mediocre lives while their destiny has other plans. It’s an ode to the common man, who’s often stifled by the limitations of his life and can do nothing to change it. The protagonists in the film are no heroes, they are perfectly ‘average’ (notice the oxymoron).
Vijay, the son of a grocery shop owner, a lawyer by profession, is in a legal soup himself after the father of his girlfriend accuses him of molesting his daughter and manhandling him. Jaitun is trying hard to make his relationship work within his financial limitations and even promises his girlfriend about marriage if ever they have sex. Jugnu is ridiculed by his stage comedian dad for his supposed ‘unmanliness’ and his interest in culinary sciences.
Despite the rooted setting of Kanpur, the concerns that the storyteller presents are quite universal – the pressure of an Indian man to be a breadwinner, do a ‘conventional, secure’ job, to have a promising salary, the dreams of settling down in a big city, the conservatism of Indian parents and their inability to come to terms with premarital relationships. The men in the film are sometimes selfish, think of themselves above their families. Just as they aim for higher goals in life even it means a few ‘unlawful’ acts, reality hits them hard.
The director uses humour as a tool to package the serious undertones of the film, creates colourful yet identifiable characters stuck in quirky situations in a crisp 100-minute narrative. For instance, Jaitun’s father, a small-time Ayurvedic doctor, offers his guests cow urine for their better health instead of a tea or a coffee. A father asks his lawyer-son to do door deliveries for the customers of his grocery shop. A cop arrests a man trying to propose to his romantic interest on Valentine’s Day. Conservatism is synonymous to Kanpur, at least going by what the director presents in the film.
Among the three parallel subplots, the one about the ‘Harami’ family is the most hard-hitting, sometimes even unintentionally. The father-son equation is raw, there’s even a sequence where the father insists his son to take a look at adult magazines instead of wasting time on cooking dishes. The ending is beautiful, about the need to taste failure in life, overcome the setback and have the ability to laugh at yourself. In fact, all the father-son/daughter threads in the film are quite unconventional. The parents are far from being doting, perennially unhappy with the limited abilities of their wards. Kanpuriye presents the best and the worst side of being in a small town – the little joys, the limitations, a society bound by dogmas, superstitions and patriarchy.
Music and Other Departments?
Multiple musicians have worked on the different singles that appear through the film and they present us Kanpur in all its diversity and musical flavour, literally through the sounds of the soil. The background score is smart, quirky, racy and as unpredictable as the film. The dialogues are the heart and soul of any film that tries to stay rooted in a setting and the lines here are so witty, real and pragmatic at the same time. The cinematography helps us appreciate the beauty beneath the ordinariness of a small city.
Manages to be sensitive and funny at the same time
Inconsistent and sometimes-ambiguous narration
Indulgence while capturing the vibe of Kanpur
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivasthsan Nadadhur
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