Review - We are family: and we make a dysfunctional film
We Are Family of a little sister called Cliche, big brother Predictability and brat teenage sister, Implausibility. Our big daddy is Mr. Patronizing Dialogue and soccer mom is the Great Indian Kangan. Oh yeah and our stepmom is Stepmom.
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We Are Family...hmmm the name still gave me the creeps as I entered the theater. Shrugging it off, I settled myself in for a cushy, melodramatic, soap opera - the English version of which I've seen. I wondered as I walked out, "Does one well-made teary scene, warrant a 'good' opinion?" I didn't have the heart to write-off a film for its thousand flaws when it managed to have one scene that touched me because it was written, performed and directed well. Even if most of the emotion is because of the way I identified with the situation, "Oh my God! What if I'm dying and I have to tell my kids about it?" boo-hoo-hoooo-tissue-please Ok, now that we are done with the 'credit where it's due bit', I feel liberated and let the 'ripping apart' begin!
We'll start soft, just like the film. It is a mature concept and the big picture is actually non-standard considering the typical Hindi family stories. When you start watching Stepmom you feel like you have started reading a book from the middle of a chapter. We Are Family sort-of covers that gap and gives a more rounded beginning. Also, the missing backstory of the three main leads, from Stepmom, is provided briefly. And the short one or two line descriptions work perfectly. And the stage is set for a fine melodrama...or not.
The performances aren't what I feared - shrieks and shrills or over-the-top. But they fail to move or get you interested, let alone involved. Mom-type Kajol; strong yet unsure, Kareena Kapoor and hunk dad Arjun Rampal show you their dilemma and the struggle, but none of them make you don't feel for them. Maybe because the characters have flaws and they are not necessarily good human beings. But they are not bad enough to hate. Awesome gray characters I've always been waiting for, but they still seem out of a book, not real human beings. And it is difficult to point out what exactly didn't work in the writing and execution of these three characters.
The kids on the other hand are pretty much caricatures that are plucked from one filmy stereotype to another. Actually, I got that wrong. Not all three of them are designed that way. The little boy, has absolutely nothing to do. His middle name might as well have been, 'Haven't a clue why I exist.' The writer's cluelessness transcends barriers of the fourth wall to haunt the audience.
I don't think there was any attempt at all to make the film's events unpredictable. The trailer itself gives away the main elements of the film by way of dialogue, sequences, songs or make-up. Moreover, why would one watch We Are Family instead of Stepmom? There is hardly any value addition or Indianization. Unless you count making it with 3 kids instead of 2 and having a "kangan" (bangle) scene.
Oops! How could I forget how they allude to the idea that woman's ultimate aim in life is to get married. And then directly go on to say that being a mother comes with the XX chromosome! Without getting into an argument about the modern woman versus the traditional idea of a woman's role in society, I'd like to say that these concepts are rather regressive. Not to mention that two women who were/are in love with the same guy are shown dancing together. I mean, I'm sure there are many women who'd get along that way, but here it wasn't convincing enough.
The concept of We Are Familyconstantly reminded me of what I remember as a beautiful film, Mere Baad where Rakhee Gulzar plays a mom of four kids. It's a soul-touching film about how she goes about looking for foster parents for her kids after she's diagnosed with a fatal disease. No, We Are Family is nowhere close to being that sensitive, but I suddenly feel like digging that one out. Any pointers for where to start?
- meeta, a part of the audience
- Violence: None
- Language: Clean
- Nudity & Sexual content: None, except for one scene of teenagers partying and dancing when drunk.
- Concept: That of children accepting their ill-fate in the form of parents' divorce and mom having a fatal illness..
- General Look and Feel: This is serious stuff. I wouldn't want my 8 and 6 year olds exposed to the concept of divorce or the fear of their close ones dying for at least another few years.
We are family - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Dharma Productions
- Producer: Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar
- Director: Siddharth Malhotra
- Lead Cast: Kajol, Arjun Rampal, Kareena Kapoor, Aanchal Munjal, Ankush, Diya Sonecha
- Supporting Cast: Amrita Prakash, Iravati Harshe
- Story: Gigi Levangie
- Screenplay: Gigi Levangie, Jessie Nelson, Steven Rogers, Karen Leigh Hopkins, Ron Bass, Venita Coehlo
- Dialogues: Niranjan Iyengar, Niranjan Iyengar
- Cinematography: Mohanan, Mohanan
- Editor: Deepa Bhatia
- Background Score: Raju Singh
- Choreography: Bosco, Caesar Gonsalves, Bosco, Caesar Gonsalves, Geeta Kapoor
- Music Director: Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Khan, Loy Mendonca
- Lyrics: Irshad Kamil, Anvita Dutt Guptan
- Running time: 130 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Family, Relationships