Kai Po Che is an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s book The 3 Mistakes of My Life and revolves around the struggles of three friends Ishaan (Rajput), Govind (Yadav) and Omi (Sadh). The three friends struggle to open their own sports academy during the years spanning the Gujarat earthquake and the post-Godhra riots. The hot-blooded Ishaan is passionate about cricket and takes the young Muslim Ali, under his wing to groom him as an international batsman. The simple and down-to earth Govind is the practical brain behind the sports venture, but things take a turn when he falls in love with Ishaan’s sister Vidhya, played by newcomer Amrita Puri. The naive Omi metamorphoses from a happy-go-lucky guy to a fanatic Hindu under the influence of his extremist uncle Bittu.
The film perks up because of its talented actors and the meticulous narrative touches like the Gujarati ads scribbled on public walls, side characters talking English with a thick Guajarati accent, archaic buildings and settings. Rajput plays the hot-headed and boyish Ishaan with startling conviction especially after an established role as the docile husband in the TV series Pavitra Rishta.
On a narrative level, the film tries to grapple with too many things at once. The several themes in the movie include friendship, the sub-plot of the love story, sports and the Indian scene, Ishaan’s naive humanism and the violence of religious fanaticism, and in the end Omi’s reconciliation with his past. The viewer is bombarded with the battalion of events and incidents before they, like Ishaan, can have the time to grasp or react to what has happened. While the film does have its moments especially with the heart-warming camaraderie of the three friends, the storyline is sketchy with half-hearted characterization and kaleidoscopic narration. In the end, the film seems to be torn between being faithful to the book and scoring at the box office. The casualty in the process is the screenplay. Characters fall in love a little too suddenly, historical incidents appear because they have to, each character’s life could be a film by itself, characters die abruptly, and the climax fizzles out without a build-up even after much sound and fury.