Early on in 2 States, Krish, a young IIM student (played by Arjun Kapoor) tells his girlfriend Ananya (played by Alia Bhatt) that he actually wants to be a writer. He wants to write good stories. ‘Story mein hero ho na ho,’ Krish says, ‘story hero honi chahiye.’
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 (Manish Malhotra, Shiraz Siddique, Natascha Charak and Nikita Mohanty), sumptuous production design (Amrita Mahal Nakai) and a few sparkling moments (debutant director Abhishek Varman seems to have a special skill for staging charming marriage proposals). 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 decide that they will only marry with the approval of their parents. So like Raj in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, they set out to win over each other’s families.
Ananya’s parents are conservative, strait-laced and simple. Krish is saddled with a loving but melodramatic mother 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, Varman gives us a sweet, unassuming love story, slow and stilted in places, but with a warm sense of companionship between Krish and Ananya.
Arjun, departing from his earlier violent roles, makes a nicely goofy and later subdued lover boy, but it’s Alia who lights up the screen. Their parents — played by terrific actors like Revathy and Amrita Singh — present interesting oppositions. But in the second half, 2 States falls apart. 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.