Early on in 2 States, Krish, a young IIM-Ahmedabad student played by Arjun Kapoor tells his girlfriend Ananya played by Alia Bhatt, that actually he wants to be a writer. He wants to write good stories. ‘Story mein hero ho na ho,' Krish says, ‘story hero honi chaiye.' The irony is that in 2 States, the story is the weakest link. The film is bolstered by talented actors, gorgeous songs by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, nice styling and production design and a few sparkling moments. And yet it is a slog.
Based on Chetan Bhagat's bestselling novel, 2 States is about a Punjabi boy and a Tamilian girl who love each other but they decide that they will only marry with the approval of their parents. So like Raj in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, they set out to win over each other's families. Ananya's parents are conservative, straight-laced and simple. Krish is saddled with a loving but drama queen mom who insists on calling Ananya's family ‘Madrasis' and an alcoholic father with serious anger management issues. It is, as you can imagine, a real mess.
In the first half, debutant director Abhishek Varman gives us a sweet, unassuming love story. It's slow and in places stilted but there is a warm sense of companionship between Krish and Ananya. Arjun, departing from his earlier violent roles, makes a nicely goofy lover boy but it's Alia who lights up the screen. She is pure magic. Their parents - played by terrific actors like Revathy and Amrita Singh - present interesting oppositions. But I'm tired of watching Ronit Roy be a drunken bully. Can directors please give this talented actor something more than variations of his role in Udaan?
In the second half, 2 States falls apart. It becomes more contrived and unconvincingly twisted. At almost two and a half hours, it's also stretched so thin that by the time Krish and Ananya walk into the sunset, you are long past caring. The story is narrated by Krish to a psychiatrist but at some point the lady disappears. What exactly happened here? I'm still trying to figure it out.
Ultimately 2 States is unwieldy and disappointing. I'm going with two and a half stars.