Arjun Kapoor, who usually acts like he’s on uppers, reins himself in admirably to play an IIT-going-on-IIM wallflower. His Krish meets overachieving Ananya (Alia Bhat) over sambar and rasgullas in the canteen. They like each other pretty much off the bat, and though Ananya has to make the first, second and third move, they’re soon a very handsy couple. By the time their MBA is over, they’ve decided to get married. The only problem is, he’s Punjabi, she’s Tamilian, and both their families have major 1950s-size hang-ups about this.
So Krish goes to Chennai to woo Ananya’s family, Ananya travels to Delhi to return the favour, both families make a joint trip to Goa, and the film rapidly devolves into Ekta Kapoor Meets The Parents. Unlike Vicky Donor, where the Punjabi-Bengali divide was addressed in a fast, hilarious ten minutes, 2 States plods on with the regional caricaturing long past the time it’s funny or instructive. Do we really need another film which tells us that Punjabis are loud, uneducated, money-minded and dowry-obsessed, or that Tamilians are snobbish, effete and bookish? I happen to be part-Punjabi, part-Tamil, which basically meant that I winced through three-quarters of the film.
Yet, 2 States keeps pulling itself back from the brink, often with small, simple scenes, like the one in which Krish, son of an alcoholic, watches his potential father-in-law mellow over a drink. Kapoor seems happy to come across as a beat behind Bhatt, who gives her character a whole array of intriguing half-smiles and glances. Shiv Kumar Subramaniam is excellent as Ananya’s taciturn father, though Amrita Singh and Revathy as the moms stay just this side of all-out hissiness. The boldest bit of casting is Ronit Roy as Krish’s estranged father – his natural tendency towards harshness is just another disharmonious element in a film that’s teeming with badly-matched parts. Strained, sure, but not entirely unworthy.
This review appeared in Time Out Delhi.