us versus them

Always Kabhi Kabhi

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This production and its performances have ‘amateur’ stamped all over them
CAST Ali Fazal, Giselli Monteiro, Satyajeet Dubey, Zoa Morani | DIRECTOR Roshan Abbas

This movie revolves around the lives of four students at St Mark’s School, Delhi. All the actors are in their early 20s and look it. Even if you surmount this credibility barrier in a movie about teenage angst, the curriculum and dress code at St Mark’s leave you astounded. The centre of academic activity is a stage production of Romeo and Juliet; the girls prance around in short skirts and the boys moan about how retro the play is.  

The theme of the movie is ‘us versus them’—parents don’t understand teenagers because they are old fogeys who don’t connect with each other every minute on status updates, don’t do drugs, don’t keep toy boys and never get pregnant. Parents are the villains in the film. The idea is to present misunderstood teenagers who struggle to win parental approval but fail, largely because the older generation has no empathy with them and their lives.

Sameer (Ali Fazal) has a dad who goes on ad nauseam about how life was much tougher in his day and comes home from work just to pounce on and harangue his son. Aishwarya (Giselli Monteiro) has a preening social climber for a mother whose ambition is to prepare her daughter for the Miss India competition, as a prelude to a career in Bollywood. Tariq (Satyajeet Dubey) has a father who expects him to get into MIT and says that nothing less would do. Nandini (Zoa Morani) has parents who just don’t give a damn about what she says and does, and that, truly, is villainous.

But  the movie doesn’t work because it is not set in any social milieu that you can identify with. Even Riverdale High School, out of an Archie comic strip, is more real. There is an amateurish quality to the production of Always Kabhi Kabhi, and it doesn’t help that the performances are uniformly unconvincing. A very disappointing film produced by Shah Rukh Khan.