Abhishek Kapoor’s latest film — starring newcomers Sushant Singh, Raj Kumar Yadav, and Amit Sadh — hopes to be a game changer in the Hindi film industry.
by Ada Tseng
The filmmakers behind Kai Po Che!, led by director Abhishek Kapoor (who previously helmed the award-winning 2008 Arjun Rampal film Rock On!) and the producers of 2006’s Rang De Basanti, are trying to prove something to the 100 year old Hindi film industry: that great stories can sell tickets at the box office even if there are no big-name stars attached.
It’s not a new desire; most recently, Karan Johar worked with unknowns for Student of the Year and Aamir Khan Productions often tries to utilize Khan’s behind-the-scenes star power to promote star-less films that may not normally get a fair shot at the box office. But Kai Po Che! is a classic male friendship story with mainstream sensibilities that appears to balance international appeal (it was the first Indian film to screen as part of the Berlin International Film Festival’s World Panarama section) with a backdrop that is deeply rooted in contemporary Indian history. And with opening box office numbers trickling in, reporting that Kai Po Che! has earned ₹4.5 crore (US$830,000) on their first day of release, Friday, February 22, they are off to a running start.
Kai Po Che! is an adaptation of the best-selling novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life, written by Chetan Bhagat, whose other novel Five Point Someone was adapted into 2009’s Aamir Khan film 3 Idiots, the highest-grossing film of all time in India. The story of Kai Po Che!, while fiction, interweaves real-life events in Ahmedabad’s history: the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the historic India-Australia Kolkata cricket test match that took place soon after, and the 2002 Godhra Train Burning, in which a radical Islamic group killed 58 Hindu activists and triggered Hindi-Muslim riots that resulted in at least 1000 casualties.
The three protagonists of Kai Po Che! are long-time friends who may appear lackadaisical about life, but have the drive to prove they can start their own business and make a success out of themselves. Raj Kumar Yadav plays Govind, the by-the-book penny pincher who veers towards stingy but can be persuaded to be impractical when his two best friends dangle the hope of a bigger dream before him. Sushant Singh Rajput is the passionate, hot-tempered Ishaan, a respected local cricket hero whose obsession with cricket inspires their business idea: a sports shop that doubles as an equipment store and a coaching camp for youngsters. Amit Sadh plays Omi, the sweet one of the trio, the son of a Hindu priest and nephew of a religious politician who really just wants everyone to be happy.