October issue 2010

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 14 years ago

Maya and Aman have parted ways but their lives remain intertwined because of their three kids. Aman (Arjun Rampal) has moved on and is romantically involved with Shreya (Kareena Kapoor). Three years on from the divorce, Aman wants to settle down with Shreya, but it is not a decision he alone can make — the kids have as much of a stake in it as him. So Aman decides to introduce her as “a friend” of his to the kids at his youngest daughter’s birthday party at Maya’s house.

The children’s coming to terms with a potential stepmom and Maya with the ‘other’ woman (despite being divorced), while Aman, the man-in-the-middle, tries to handle a very precarious situation is just part of the story of We Are Family. The situation takes a critical turn when Maya is diagnosed with cervical cancer and Aman decides to move back in with Maya and the children. It becomes even more complex during the second half of the movie, when Shreya and Maya make peace and Shreya, too, moves in.

The characters go through an emotional see-saw as do the audiences. As you see the various characters trying to cope with some extremely difficult situations in their own way, your heart goes out to each one of them. You end up discarding your preconditioned responses. You want Maya to have that significant other in her life again, and a complete family during the little time that she has left, but, at the same time, you don’t want Shreya to be deserted by Aman. And then there are the children, who are battling constant instability. You feel the devastation they feel when they find out that their parents have no plans of reconciling as a couple and that Aman has only moved back with them to take care of their dying mother, and them. You hope that each of them finds their own place in the others’ heart, instead of taking over or replacing another’s, and that is the message of the movie too.

One is reduced to tears in several scenes of the movie, but there are those light, fun-filled moments as well, with the children featuring in most of them. There is also a rocking number that has been incorporated into the movie. “Let’s Rock,” a Hindi adaptation of “Jail House Rock,” is a fun-filled score with the entire cast shaking a leg.

All the actors perform exceedingly well in what are multiple roles. Arjun is the father, the ex-husband and the boyfriend, while Kajol has her plate full too, as Maya who is the ex-wife, mother and terminally ill patient. This is the first time Kareena is seen interacting with children — that too, three at the same time — and she handles it quite well. The children are central to this movie. Aanchal Munjal as Aleya, the enraged teenaged daughter, Nominath Ginsburg as Ankush, the bespectacled science geek, and Diya Sonecha as Anjali, the youngest member of the family around whom everyone else’s life revolves, bring warmth to the film.

We Are Family redefines the nuclear family and the ‘other’ in a way that has not been done before (in Hindi cinema). Kudos to debutant director Siddharth P. Malhotra.

This review was originally published in the October issue of Newsline under the title “Family Redefined.”

Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.