To try and transplant an alien familial arrangement and "adapt" it to suit local sensibilities is the first mistake the makers of We Are Family have evidently made. While you can understand why its theme would have made sense as a sentimental chick flick in the West, and while you want
to enjoy the film because it has one of Hindi cinema's finest actresses on board, We Are Family is much less than a happy watch.
The problem with the movie starts with the fact that it has heart-break built into the concept. Aman (Arjun Rampal) and Maya (Kajol) are a divorced couple, with Maya taking care of the kids and Aman catching up with them every weekend. The "family" is pretty much comfortable with the arrangement, until Aman brings his girlfriend Shreya (Kareena Kapoor) into the picture.
The whole idea of kids being "okay" with a - let's face it - broken family is largely unheard of in an Indian context, because except in certain select circles, it is still a disturbing concept.
The problem with We Are Family is that it doesn't even do much to airbrush the inappropriateness of it all. The kids don't accept Shreya, but Aman tries to make their chemistry work, which results in painful moments for both her and the children. Then, it is Maya's turn to try to accept Shreya and vice versa, and much more pain.
Finally, the 3 adults and the kids get into such a twisted mess that it's not a very pretty sight to have to see people being compelled to "let go" of so much in their relationships. Call it escapist, but our audiences would rather have a sugary Hum Aapke Hai Kaun than a Stepmom.
Indeed, our cinema is enjoyed for a much more therapeutic purpose than some will admit. It is why a Kal Ho Na Ho
, despite being a tragedy, worked - because it is dolled up with so much fluff. On the other hand, We Are Family is a relentless tear-jerker. It has its tender moments, but there is too much distress throughout, accompanied by instances of silliness.
The film is gorgeous to watch, with the leading ladies making up much of the beauty. Kajol is as brilliant as ever, even though her character is clearly of lesser quality than the poised and collected Shreya. Maya is initially portrayed as this levelheaded mom, but later as a high-strung control freak who becomes difficult to handle, and this leads to some of the avoidable trauma in the story.
Kareena pulls off a smooth performance, and her character evolves easily to one that is lovable. Arjun Rampal hardly has anything to do. The kids are the usual combination you get to watch in all these kids-rejecting-guardian flicks - with one cantankerous adolescent, one innocent pre-schooler and one trying to figure out the right and wrong of it all. The youngest one in this movie is particularly cute, and takes credit for brightening up several scenes.
Pleasant background music adds on to the sappiness of the flick, but Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy bring out a rather familiar set of songs.
A striking lead cast might be enough of an excuse for some to watch We Are Family, but those who'd rather keep life simple might want to choose a more cheerful thing to do this week.