We Are Family comes with a baggage of expectations. First of all, it’s a remake of the ’98 tearjerker by Chris Columbus – Stepmom – starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. Second, it’s a Dharma film; and notably Dharma films are known to have quality. And last, but not the least, it comes with a plethora of star power – Kajol, Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal. Does the movie manage to win over the audience?
Aman (Arjun Rampal) and Maya (Kajol) are divorced and have three children. When Aman introduces Maya and the kids to his new girlfriend Shreya (Kareena Kapoor), the kids end up loathing her and Maya starts to envy her. But when Maya finds she has a serious problem of her own, she ends up with no choice but to turn to Shreya for help.
I’ve read feedback from people who have seen Stepmom and whilst they can benefit from making comparisons I personally haven’t seen it and would prefer to judge the movie as an individual product. Saying that I’d also like to commend Johar for buying the copyrights of the movie from Sony Pictures at a time when, if the movie is indeed a copy, it’s either called an ‘inspiration’ or a ‘co-incidence’.
Looking on the positives of the movie, the dialogues by Niranjan Iyengar are fantastic. Some of the notable ones are found in the final confrontational scene between Kajol and Kareena. The essence of subtlety is similarly captured in the film through these subtext-generating dialogues. Usually in such a remake, what you find is that although the content is good, the characters fail to live up to the original because of their badly drawn development sketches. But here, each role is author backed, with Kajol and Kareena leading on the character development scale. Arjun tags an inch or so behind.
Siddharth Malhotra is a commendable director, and his executions of some scenes (Kajol crying in her kitchen) are testimony to the fact that he is one filmmaker to look out for. Here though, it gets difficult to judge him as a director because what sticks in my mind is the inconsistent nature of the screenplay. While the first half breezes through, it’s the post-intermission section that falters on the writing level, and there are many scenes that could have been taken out without making the slightest bit of difference to the ending. Deepa Bhatia’s editing leaves much to be desired in the length department, though to be fair to her she’s done well in keeping up with the continuity and giving a stylistic touch to the film.
Technically though, Mohanan does a good job in the cinematography department. Color correction is really good, and some high-contrast, tinted scenes in the hospital describe (and enhance) Kajol’s feelings very well. Camerawork is steady and smooth. Background score by Raju Singh is very good, and the music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy fit the bill perfectly with the situations on the screen, the standout songs being “Aankhon Mein Neendein”, “Dil Khol Ke”, “Let’s Rock” and “Rehem-O-Karam”.
On the subject of performances, even those who haven’t seen the film will vouch for Kajol with closed eyes, because they will know what a terrific actress she is. From her body language to her expressions of pain and emotions, she does it all, and steals the show. And now, through this film we know that if there’s any actress that can stand up to Kajol and do equally well, it is Kareena Kapoor. If Kajol took the cake in the first half, Kareena will make you cry in the second half. The way she plays out her transformation from a career woman to a mother is fantastic. If after Jab We Met and Kurbaan, there’s any role she can be proud of, it’s this. She keeps becoming a revelation in every film and here, the way she played out her emotional range with her body language is commendable. Arjun Rampal is one good actor. A Rock On!!, Raajneeti and Housefull later, you know he’s got it in him by playing the more silent types. All the kids do well. Iravati Harshe as the doctor is efficient.
There are some movies you expect nothing from but they turn out to be a nice surprise. Then there are other movies that you have some expectations for but end up feeling a little unsatisfied with the end results. The latter applies to We Are Family. When you prefer to take away theatrical trailers (in this case Jhootha Hi Sahi, playing minutes before the movie started) rather than the movie you have paid to watch, you know something is missing. True there are some powerful scenes and emotional moments in this film but unfortunately they are few and far between. But despite all of the flaws, due to the overall packaging and performances of the actors, it is still an average film to watch particularly with the whole family – albeit a strict one timer!
The overriding conclusion however is that, for a movie coming out of Johar’s prestigious banner (with previous projects such as Kal Ho Naa Ho, Dostana, Wake Up S!d, and even lesser films such as Kurbaan, and I Hate Luv Storys), We Are Family is a dubious, if not slightly embarrassing addition!