Rating: 2* / 5*
Duration: 2 hr 30 mnt
Producer: Karan Johar, Hiroo Johar, Apoorva Mehta
Director: Shashank Khaitan
Star Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana, Aditya Kumar, Kharaj Mukherjee, Ankit Bisht
The problem with remaking a classic is that no matter how good or bad a job you do of it, your work will always be compared to the classic. In our review of ‘Dhadak’, we will also engage in that exercise, albeit sporadically, while weighing the stand-alone power of the movie. ‘Dhadak’, taking a cue from ‘Sairat’ (that’s the movie the Dhadak is a remake of and regardless of what you thought of it, it is worth your watch!) casts “fresh” faces for its lead roles. Did it get that right? ‘Dhadak’ attempts to cast a love story against the backdrop of the socio-economic divide, amplified by vested political interests. Dhadak does get some of it right, though a number of moments are simplified or softened for more wide viewing (That’s our best guess in all goodwill. Beats shoddy filmmaking any day.) that the original movie didn’t bother to euphemize. That sort of commercialization makes Dhadak miss its mark and that too, not by a narrow margin.
(Story by Nagraj Manjule from ‘Sairat’) The movie opens with a decent display of the semi-urban side of Udaipur. Madhukar (Ishaan Khattar) works at his father’s restaurant and goes to college. Parthavi (Jahnvi Kapoor) also goes to college and does… swimming, apparently. One of them has a crush on the other and amongst their friends’ shenanigans and buffoonery, their love blooms. But in walks Ashutosh Rana (sound cue: thunder and lightning), who wants to win the election and who doesn’t want to see Madhukar’s grinning face around his house (since he is of a neechi jaati). Through a chain of events, the young couple finds themselves driven away from their families and left alone (almost) to fend for themselves. The movie deals with (read: tries to) the practical issues of staying together and building a life together. As it gravitates towards its famous climax (no spoilers here, only ‘Sairat’ watchers know what we are talking about), it quickly wraps up. The story doesn’t seem very impressive, and it is actually not. The rawness of the execution and the freshness of the presentation is what intends to drive it home. Unsuccessfully so, for Dhadak.
Performance and Dialogue
Ishaan Khattar is a pleasant surprise. His eyes rarely let go of the wow-I-am-in-love wonder and his expressions and timing fit his role perfectly. It is Jahnvi Kapoor that you will definitely have a problem with. Sounding more like a Marwari girl settled in Ireland than an authentic Rajasthani, she finds herself out of her depth in the easiest scenes. Her accent has an accent of its own, which doesn’t help. Ishaan’s friends do try to support in their roles, but the story gets rid of them halfway. With Jahnvi and Ishaan left to carry the entire weight of the performance, it comes crumbling down more than a few times. The dialogues are nothing spectacular, but they get the job done. Special kudos to Kharaj Mukherjee who lights up the screen with his amazing brand of Bangla humor and impeccable timing.
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Screenplay and Direction
The direction (by Shashank Khaitan) stays mostly faithful to the screenplay (by Shashank Khaitan as well) and the small town setting that is intended to be at the heart of the movie. The scenes only jar when Jahnvi Kapoor has to deliver a punchline. Otherwise, the pacing and flow are well done and so are the dramatic scenes in the movie. The directors have also managed to capture the vulnerability of the young couple quite well. Had they opted for less make up for Jahnvi and Ishaan and less scene setting, they would have got a more realistic punch made out of this.
The music done by Ajay-Atul is one of the strong positives of Dhadak. They do use their experience in Marathi cinema and that brings a welcome departure from the rap and the synth-led drum tracks that make up for most songs these days. The background score happens to be immaculate, with the title soundtrack haunting you even after the end of the movie.
Dhadak is not the revelation it could have been. In trying to achieve the impossible (that is, being ‘Sairat’), it actually ends up achieving a lot less. It tries to bring in rawness and small-town vibes to highlight its socio-economic divide. But it doesn’t show why Jahnvi and Ishaan are always visible in high definition. It is afraid to bring out the messier sides of living together, afraid of making its characters seem too dark. In those moments, when Dhadak is trying to decide whether, to be honest, or to be mainstream masala Bollywood, it fails. But if you can endure (and you will probably be able to) Jahnvi’s disconcerted dialogue delivery and these flaws, do go in and you will still emerge not fully dissatisfied.