Direction: Shashank Khaitan
Production: Dharma Productions, Zee Studios
Screenplay: Shashank Khaitan
Cast: Ishaan Khattar, Janhvi Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana
Cinematography: Vishnu Rao
Editing: Monisha Baldawa
Music: John Stewart Eduri, Ajay-Atul
Hindi / Drama, Romance / 137 mins / India / 2018
If mere copying of a 100 crore+ blockbuster (read Sairat / Wild – Unrestrained by Nagraj Manjule) could make a remake great, then Dhadak would work for its audiences. Unfortunately its director Shashank Khaitan misses the wood for the trees and essence of the original goes severely missing. Sairat, as the classic love story of young star crossed lovers, highlighted caste divides and honour killings. It was a film that made hearts bleed and eyes moist. By the end of Sairat, all you wished for was peace and happiness for the couple - whom you had fallen in love with. In the case of Dhadak, all you wait for is the end so that you can go home! Because in trying to capture the plot, the filmmaker loses it. That may sound a bit harsh but its true.
Set in Udaipur, Dhadak tries to capture the local flavors in its use of the local dialect, Mewari. But it doesn’t capture caste divisions in society or mention honour as a byword. And because the undercurrents are missing, Dhadak ends up being a story about boy meeting girl; they falling in love and eloping because it is thrust upon them not because they had a plan in place! What happens next is a mundane tale of trying to build a life for themselves – till the families find them.
On paper (read screenplay) Parthavi (Kapoor) is a Brahmin and Madhukar (Khattar) a boy from a lower caste. But that idea remains in between covers and doesn’t show up on screen at all. There are other factors which fail to move you. There is hardly any chemistry between the young lovers. The best of scenes between them feel like they are going through the motions and not madly in love. The supporting cast is weak as well and even Ashutosh Rana as Rattan Singh – Parthavi’s father, is more interested in winning the local elections than his daughter’s affair.
Except for being a launch pad for late Sridevi’s daughter Janhvi Kapoor, Dhadak is little else. Co-starring opposite Ishaan Khattar (a fine actor in his own right) Janhvi debuts well and like a seasoned pro. The sad part is, she carries none of the spunk, attitude and zest of a rich, spoilt brat that Rinku Rajguru (in the original) displayed. Where she does explore her talent is in scenes which require her to cry and fight for her man. For the rest, it’s an ordinary debut. Blame it on Khaitan because the girl definitely has the talent and the genes for it. Maybe next time.
As for Ishaan, he does his best trying to lift a dull script but there is only so much that he too can contribute. His strength, however, as an actor lies in his eyes. They speak volumes and that says a lot for the youngster who is definitely a star in the making.
Vishnu Rao’s cinematography captures the city of lakes - Udaipur through Uday Vilas, Lake Pichola, Manjhi Ghat, Jagdish temple and lots of other famous spots before moving onto Kolkata and beautiful shots of Hoogly. Extraordinary beauty has to be supported by great content. So though Dhadak remains picturesque and beautifully lit, it’s like a flawless body sans a soul. Watch it if you must.