Dysfunctional is the new normal, says ‘Kapoor & Sons’ director

It’s all about questioning your parents in Shakun Batra’s new movie.

When the trailer gets such praise, what will the main attraction be like? Kapoor & Sons is Vancouver Film School graduate Shakun Batra’s sophomore effort after Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu in 2012. The March 18 release is the latest dysfunctional family drama, in which Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra play brothers who fall for Alia Bhatt’s character. Excerpts from an interview.

How do you make yet another film about a dysfunctional family?

Actually I think dysfunctional is the new normal. Previously there was a way in which we represented a family in film. But once we grow up and break out, we understand better what families are really about. I love Hannah and Her Sisters and reunion films, which are loaded with secrets from the past, and what happens to these unresolved issues when they resurface. The idea is that there is no way you can change your family. You must learn to accept people for who they are and find a common ground before it’s too late.

The family drama used to be the most common genre in Hindi cinema, but we hardly see such films any more. Why do you think that is?

I think we had probably reached the saturation point of being too sugary. Then the rom-com and action films took over. We had stopped doing contemporary family dramas, besides the occasional Dil Dhadakne Do. I picked this genre because people were saying it’s time to do a big, commercial film, with big names and numbers. But what if I wanted to go big in depth, character and psyche? I wanted to go where the story was more important than the gloss, glamour and scale. I was not a 100 percent satisfied with Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. I was sincere, but the film lacked maturity.


You seem to have scaled down from your debut, which was shot in Las Vegas, to set the new movie closer home (Coonoor and Mumbai).

That’s true, but this is more character driven and more emotionally challenging than Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was. My first film had two main characters in different locations and took damn long to make. Kapoor & Sons was green-lit in February last year and we release this month. My new film was more controlled in terms of shooting, but choreographing the chaos of the family was the fun part; dealing with madness in a confined space.

How do you downplay gloss and glamour when it’s a Dharma production?

When I finally got my ensemble cast together, I tried to make them normal in denims and tees. But yes, this is a Dharma movie, and I was caught between the commercial Dharma and the grunge I was after. The result is part eye candy and part real.

Why cast Rishi Kapoor as an 85-year-old patriarch and put him through prosthetics?

I needed him to play a character between 85 and 90 years. I could not risk actually casting someone that age and Rishi Kapoor doesn’t look that old. Greg Cannom happened to be in India working on the make-up for Fan, so we approached him and he came on board to work on Dadu’s character. Rishi Kapoor himself was very kicked and patiently sat four hours a day in the make-up chair.

Based on the trailer and songs, Alia Bhatt looks she’s repeating her manic pixie dream girl act.

It might feel like that based on what you have seen so far, but she’s not actually playing a chatterbox manic pixie dream girl. She’s a girl with a real problem. You would need to see the film to see her graph. She has brought a great deal to the part. If I ever had a muse, it would be Alia.

And the rest of the cast?

They are all very smart people. Sidharth has not played a character closer to his real persona before – someone with a sense of humour and lightness. He could make Arjun his own and I think that’s why he appears more sure-footed. Alia and I did [the internet spoof] Genius of the Year, so I know her from then and that gave us a dialogue. I heard about Fawad after Khoobsurat. Karan’s mother [producer Karan Johar] is a big fan of his TV serials. I had not seen any of his work but when he read the script, his approach and ideas were exactly what I wanted.

What are your cinematic influences?

I am a big fan of Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, of films like Little Miss Sunshine and The Royal Tenenbaums, but I don’t think I have their tonality. I am trying to find my own.

Director Shakun Batra.
Director Shakun Batra.
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.