Movie Review: 2 STATES (2014)
Love stories are often exaggerated and idealized by Bollywood and most films of the romance genre feature unrealistic portrayals of relationships. This makes sense given the escapism that the Industry provides for most of its target audience. However, 2 STATES is a Bollywood movie that doesn’t rebel against the institution of marriage, but embraces it.
Blank Page Rating: 4 Out Of 5 States
Based on a book by Chetan Bhagat, 2 STATES features the normal meeting, courting, and pre-martial relationship of a couple stemming from two different cultural backgrounds of India. Despite the title and the apparent conflict of different backgrounds, the story doesn’t spend that much time distinguishing between the cultures, except for some very intensely prejudiced scenes that tighten up the original conflict much more. The story focuses more on parents’ expectations from their kids, and projecting their own ideas of their happiness onto them, and how a couple overcomes those ideologies in an attempt to make both families happy. While it’s clear that the couple, played by Arjun Kapoor & Alia Bhatt , will end up together from the onset of the story, how they get to that point is the interesting journey, considering it’s having to navigate parental conflicts.
2 STATES stands out from other films, simply because the movie doesn’t follow the formulaic approach of building up the chemistry between the main characters, then finding some plot device to tear them apart, only to have them unite after some long drawn out emotional song montages. Instead, the couple actually spends most of the movie doing exactly the opposite, which is trying to convince their parents of their union, and in the case of Arjun Kapoor’s Krish, confronting some issues in his own family. The story even calls out a typical Bollywood cliché in its romance genre, as the couple considers multiple times to elope, however, the idea is immediately dismissed out of respect for, and a true desire to have their parents be happy with their decision. A concept, which is so rare in the usual ‘screw you parents, you don’t understand’ angle most romantic Bollywood movies, seem to take.
Arjun Kapoor is a smarter actor than he is a good actor, given his incredible choice in roles. Seemingly out to display a wide range of his abilities, Kapoor plays a timid and demure young man, who starts the movie at a psychiatrist’s office expressing his desire to kill himself. The entire film is then told in flashback that takes us through their relationship. The consistency of Kapoor’s portrayal throughout the film is a credit to the director for keeping the actor in character. Even during the song and dance sequences, the introverted Krish doesn’t uncharacteristically become an accomplished dancer somehow. Kudos also has to go to Alia Bhatt who, after her debut in STUDENT OF THE YEAR, (my Review here) once again manages to play the role of a typically modern girl, but is able not to make it contrived or irritating. Her performance is subtle and honest. The absolute best thing in 2 STATES has to be the subplot between Krish and his father, played to utmost perfection by the spectacular Ronit Roy. Despite his brief involvement, Roy is able to overwhelm everything else that’s going on every time he’s on screen.
Debutant director Abhishek Varman truly makes a responsible love story that focuses more on the familial conflicts that arise in intercultural marriages and the most rational and mature ways of dealing with them, without the use of unrealistically convenient plot devices. 2 STATES works on multiple levels, including the chemistry between the Kapoor & Bhatt, and along with the supporting cast and focus on each family’s relationships, the movie goes beyond being just about the superficial conflicts between intercultural marriages.