In the good old days, in the 1960s and 1970s specifically, well-made family films struck an instant chord with viewers across the spectrum. But with the changing times, the quantum of well-made socials made a rapid decline. WE ARE FAMILY belongs to the Rajshri gharaana and tells the story of a family facing two life-changing developments: The woman of the house is diagnosed with a terminal illness and two, there's a stepmom on the scene. A difficult subject to handle, without doubt.
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But debutant director Siddharth P. Malhotra surprises you constantly. Casting the best available talent for two pivotal parts and doing complete justice to their roles is tough. Very tough. But the ease with which he handles the tense moments between the women and also the emotional finale shows he has learnt his lessons well from his peers.
Final word? WE ARE FAMILY is for the family. It is well acted, deftly written, entertaining and broadly appealing drama. Watch it with someone you love!
Maya [Kajol] is the perfect mother. Her life revolves around her three children, Aleya [Aanchal Munjal], Ankush [Nominath Ginsberg] and Anjali [Diya Sonecha]. Despite being divorced from her husband Aman [Arjun Rampal], Maya has ensured that everything runs smoothly in her house, under her watch, and that they continue to remain a happy family unit.
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When Aman introduces his girlfriend, Shreya [Kareena Kapoor], a career-oriented woman, the situation takes an unexpected turn. However, Maya is diagnosed with a terminal illness and circumstances bring the two women under the same roof. Can two mothers make a home?
With a plot like this, you expect WE ARE FAMILY to be an out-and-out serious outing. However, the film has its serious moments, but the director ensures that it doesn't come across as a gloomy and serious fare. In fact, the generous dose of light moments in the narrative keeps the drama fluid. There's an inherent sensitivity that the director brings in, which keeps you involved for most parts.
On the flip side, the film tends to stagnate in the middle of the second hour. One expects the story to move forward, but there's not much movement here [thankfully, the film picks up wonderfully towards the penultimate reels]. Also, the music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is a complete letdown. You feel it all the more because Dharma is synonymous with excellent music. The only redeeming track in the enterprise is 'Let's Rock', which is high on energy. S-E-L need to reinvent themselves by experimenting a little more.
Director Siddharth P. Malhotra handles the dramatic portions best. The tense moments between Kajol and Kareena, the confrontation between the two and also the cold stares that they exchange time and again have been captured very well. The gradual transformation in Kajol's looks, from striking and energetic to pale and morose, is also well projected. The finale is the best part of the enterprise and can be best described in one word: Outstanding. However, like I pointed out earlier, the writing could've been tighter towards the second hour.
Mohanan's cinematography is eye-catching and the locales of Australia only enhance the look of the film. Niranjan Iyengar's dialogue are decent at places, but a few lines are amazingly real. The background score [Raju Singh] is first-rate.
WE ARE FAMILY gives the two popular actresses an opportunity to sink their teeth into strongly drawn, juicy, challenging and interesting female roles that move beyond the normal stereotypes. The scene stealer is, without doubt, Kajol. She expresses the gamut of emotions brilliantly and speaks a million words even when silent. This is yet another incredible performance from an actor par excellence. Kareena excels yet again and her sequences with the kids are a delight. In fact, casting Kareena as the stepmom is just right, since she's the only actor who can stand up to Kajol in high-voltage scenes and that's because Kareena is a powerful actor herself. Arjun continues to surprise. ROCK ON, HOUSE FULL, RAAJNEETI and now WE ARE FAMILY indicates the growth of this actor. He handles the emotional moments well too. The kids - all three of them - are superb. In fact, the casting of the kids [done by Shanoo Sharma] is an ace.
On the whole, WE ARE FAMILY is a perfect family film with a good mix of emotions and humour. Plus, a brilliant climax, which will ensure that the film grows with a strong word of mouth. The last film which came close to being a family outing was PAA. Before that, the only quintessential family film was BAGHBAN. WE ARE FAMILY is the kind of film that should work instantly with ladies and when ladies watch such films, they bring their spouses and children along. Recommended!