Tag Archives: Kai Po Che

No Time for Grieving – Or Why We Should Talk Some More About Kai Po Che: Debashree Mukherjee


Okay, so the popular consensus is that Kai Po Che is a good film. Everyone agrees that it’s well shot and edited, the relatively unknown heroes are excellent, and the narrative is taut and emotionally resonant. It is competent and follows all the right cues worthy of a buddy movie about growing up and testing loyalties. But the film is hardly an event. It has been seized upon as a significant cinematic landmark for its depiction of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. It might be worth our while to get some perspective here.

Today I will look at some other questions about our collective liberal attitude to this film, and what it indicates about our memory of select incidents of mass violence in this country. The main question to ponder is whether there is something dangerous about a historically-contextualized cultural product that can be coopted by a range of political perspectives? Is there something objectionable about a film (and the emotions it generates) which is deliberately toothless in the face of power? Over the last few weeks we have witnessed a range of informed cultural commentators  protest that critics of the film are making much to-do about what is in fact the first “realistic” and engaging Bollywood depiction of the Gujarat massacre. This post rejects that opinion and appeals for responsible film criticism and an alert, active mode of spectatorship.

Continue reading No Time for Grieving – Or Why We Should Talk Some More About Kai Po Che: Debashree Mukherjee

Kai Po Che and the reduction of 2002: Zahir Janmohamed


A still from Kai Po Che
A still from Kai Po Che

When I started conducting research in Gujarat two years ago, I kept being asked the same question among middle class youth in Ahmedabad: “Have you read Chetan Bhagat?” When I asked what other books they have read, I often heard, “Actually I only read Chetan Bhagat.”

So I started to read Bhagat because I wanted to relate to many of the young people I was interviewing. But it was not an easy task.

I understand the frustration with Bhagat’s writing. Unlike other young adult authors like JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins, Bhagat’s books rarely reward a second reading (and yes I have tried). Continue reading Kai Po Che and the reduction of 2002: Zahir Janmohamed

The sickening political opportunism of Chetan Bhagat


Snigdha Poonam watches Kai Po Che, whose script was written by Chetan Bhagat, based on his book The Three Mistakes of My Life:

In the film adaptation, Mr. Bhagat has also added what seems like justification for some Hindus to turn violent, like the death by burning of both of the parents of one of the three protagonists in the Sabarmati Express; in the novel, it was his nephew. We all know the level of vengeance with which Bollywood heroes respond to the targeting of their mothers: “Teri maa mari hai kya (Is it your mother who has died?),” the bereaved son explodes at a sensible friend trying to stop him from losing control of himself.

In his book, Mr. Bhagat clearly showed the 2002 riots as a state-sanctioned exercise (“Whatever it takes to quench the hurt feelings,” says a “senior Hindu Party leader”). But he excised that from the film completely. [Read]

That image above is via DeshGujarat.com, where an article quotes Bhagat as saying in a TV debate:

“It has been discussed much that Modi ji has done well in Gujarat, but what I believe is that he is a very good politician. A politician has to change with public mood. When communal issue mood was there in the country, that was Modi version 1, when he elected for the first time. And when he won the election for second time, he won it on development agenda.”

Clearly, Mr Chetan Bhagat is also a good politician.