Three close male friends live through ups and downs in realizing their dream of running a sports shop/cricket academy in the Indian film "Kai Po Che" ("Brothers for Life"). Based on a bestselling novel, the film traffics in an energetic form of aspirational/redemptive melodrama that ties the friends' fortunes to real-world events in the early 2000s, such as the Gujarat earthquake.
Once business-minded Govind (Raj Kumar), impulsive cricket fanatic Ishaan (newcomer Sushant Singh Rajput), and money-connected Omi (Amit Sadh) get their modest store up and running, luck hits when a Muslim boy falls into their fold, displaying enough cricket-batting talent to be the next big thing.
While Ishaan takes Ali under his wing, Govind secretly gets romantically involved with Ishaan's younger sister, and Omi gets more deeply involved in his uncle's increasingly xenophobic politics, with tragic consequences during the notorious Hindu-Muslim riots of 2002.
"Kai Po Che" packs a lot into its two hours, with not a lot of subtlety -- and in some cases, bracing grimness. But its performances are enjoyably boisterous, and director Abhishek Kapoor refuses to linger on clichés for too long (the happy montage, the big game, unlucky coincidence) before hurling his trio into their next complication or moment of triumph.
"Kai Po Che." Not rated. 125 minutes. Playing at the Rave 18, Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino, Regal Westpark in Irvine, Naz 8 in Lakewood, and AMC Covina.