DHADAK Movie Review: Love on the run
Covering her lovely face with a ghoonghat, she enters the terrace where her beloved is sleeping, she is carrying a glass of isabgol (psyllium husk)… was the glass of isabgol - a warning signal for us?.
So, Dharma productions - the flag bearer of urban candy floss, teddy bear, feel good, doctors of romance try to get ‘real’ with the remake of the 2016 Marathi language blockbuster SAIRAT by Nagraj Manjule with DHADAK.
The highly awaited launch pad of Janhvi Kapoor daughter of the one and only (late) Sridevi, DHADAK also stars Ishaan Khatter who made his presence felt in the Iranian master Majid Majidi’s Bollywood debut BEYOND THE CLOUDS. Such an important movie, having such a topical subject of caste divide and honour killing, coming from a banner of repute like Dharma and Zee and look what we get... A poorly thesped, unimaginatively conceived, reboot of Nagraj Manjule’s SAIRAT – a brilliantly weaved chronicle of love on the margins that twined the classic tale of star-crossed love into the caste cauldron.
DHADAK by Shashank Khaitan (HUMPTY SHARMA KI DULHANIA, BADRINATH KI DULHANIA previous) is nothing but a candied corporate fantasia version of the real, hard-hitting and intense SAIRAT. DHADAK (which means beat in English) may had a heart somewhere but Shashank Khaitan’s version fails miserably in finding its ‘beat’ it lacks innocence, connect, feel and is afraid of digging in deep, it lacks research (for example a reference of the traditional Rajashthani dish – Laal Mass is repeated often... what about Safed Mass which is equally popular) and expects the audience to believe that the Udaipur and Kolkatta created by the prediction house is authentic. No, such Udaipur and Kolkatta only exist in the world of Dharma or Balaji and of course such decorated/plastic reality is often on our daily soaps... but shockingly the soap opera on television can find better connect then DHADAK.
While there are several possible good reasons to remake SAIRAT for any one, it seems none of them over here cared to have a check what’s happening in this Shashank Khaitan’s overblown world. The choice of Rajasthan is apt though Haryana would have been ‘ideal’ for what we all are hearing about honour killings... anyways, this facelift sort of new update on SAIRAT is set in the exotic locales of Udaipur. A boy from lower caste Madhukar (Ishaan Khatter) is smitten by the charm of the upper caste Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor).
Parthvi the daughter of Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana) a heavyweight of the region and a landlord/King whose ‘Haveli’ has now turned into a hotel. Parthvi is a girl who knows what she wants, she rides her brother’s bullet and challenges the masculinity of Madhukar. It’s that typical small town teenage infatuation that has worked since ages and in SAIRAT of course, but here in DHADAK, it fails to create that wonder.
The basic problem with DHADAK is that Shashank Khaitan fails to get the milieu right from the first frame itself. While we can draw some connect with Janhvi’s character as she is supposed to look rich and from a well-to-do family with a strong will. The character of her lover Madhukar comes without any establishment. Madhukar is free willing, just like any urban teenager; he is not oppressed as Parshya of SAIRAT and speaks his mind. Parshya on the other hand was shy in expressing his emotion for obvious reasons and his dilemma found an instant connect. Madhukar’s fascination towards Janhvi is just like any other rom-com and the most important part – Madhukar and his family are well off, they run a picturesque hotel by the beautiful lake of Udaipur. All these compromises on Madhukar’s character make sure that the feeling of any romance amongst the audience between Janhvi and Ishaan in Udaipur goes phur... (runs away).
Janhvi and Madhukar start liking each other and suddenly they elope... in SAIRAT, Archie and Parshya had a thought behind the drastic step, they realize the cruelty of the world they breathe in where nobody is free to love anybody, your origin decides your life and life partner.
DHADAK – the face lifted update on SAIRAT tries hard to dust off the intensity; reality involved in the original with Vishnu Rao’s jaw dropping cinematography. The movie is a treat to the eye at least.
Musically too, Ajay Atul fail to give DHADAK its required melody. It’s a wonder why you have to adapt a Marathi foot tapping 'zingat' number for a celebration song in a movie set in Rajashthan. It would have been better if the makers had explored the option of a music blended with Rajasthani folk… see the irony... Janhvi Kapoor daughter of (Late) Sridevi in a movie set in Rajashthan and the makers forgot to infuse Rajasthani folk... how can you forget Sridevi’s LAMHE... this could have been a masterstroke and a great kick/gimmick for marketing. What a waste.
Coming to casting, well it’s tricky. Ishaan in a Majid film and Ishaan in a Khaitan film... this is an example how a good director can create wonders and how an average filmmaker can turn his main character into a caricature at times. Anyhow Ishaan is fine but his character is not all defined.
It is too early to comment on Janhvi Kapoor’s acting caliber. Considering the legacy she belongs to, comparisons with Sridevi may happen somewhere. In any case, to be fair to her, Janhvi does not disappoint at least, she shows flair and spark at places, she is better in light moments but in emotionally challenging situations, she has to get that finesse (which should come over time). Ishaan is a better actor in that matter.
Ankit Bisht as Ishaan's friend is fine. Shridhar Watsar as Ishaan's friend gets good footage and he plays to the gallery Aditya Kumar as Parthavi's brother is okay. Ashutosh Rana as Ratan Singh is fantastic.
DHADAK introducing Janhvi Kapoor was supposed to add more grease to the vehicle of the disturbing caste divide and honour killings so masterly driven by Nagraj Manjule in SAIRAT. But it’s a pity that this venture by Shashank Khaitan is so divorced from reality that it unintentionally parodies the Marathi game changer at times and commits the crime of killing two movies in one time.
- Actor: Ishaan Khatter, Ashutosh Rana, Ankit Bisht, Shridhar Watsar, Aditya Kumar, Aditya Kumar, Aishwarya Narkar, Kharaj Mukherjee
- Actress: Janhvi Kapoor
- Director: Shashank Khaitan
- Production house: Zee Studios, Dharma Productions
- Distributor: Zee Studios