Dhadak Movie Review - In a heartbeat...
This is a full-on film on its own, set in Udaipur and Kolkata, seeped in the milieu of Rajasthan, with the story altogether told within a scale and tone that most befits Bollywood.
U/A; Drama, Romance
Director: Shashank Khaitan
Cast: Ishan Khattar, Janhvi Kapoor
There's something inherently disturbing, almost in a stomach-churning way, to watch a young, beautiful couple, lost in puppy love, knowing well exactly the unfortunate fate that awaits them. So yeah, like most of you, I have seen Nagraj Manjule's Marathi, semi-rural masterpiece, Sairat (2016) that Dhadak is an official adaptation of.
Does it even make sense to watch it all over again? Yes, in the same way that you would enjoy Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1989) no less, regardless of whether or not you've read/watched Romeo And Juliet. Same text inevitable produces multiple films, often almost unrelated to each other in fact.
This is a full-on film on its own, set in Udaipur and Kolkata, seeped in the milieu of Rajasthan, with the story altogether told within a scale and tone that most befits Bollywood—although that might be a downer for some, certainly not for me. At the centre of this tragic romance is of course the phenomenally fresh lead pair—Janhvi Kapoor, Ishan Khattar—who add a unique charm, and pleasantness with their presence, to start with.
Janhvi, 21, as you know, is daughter of late Sridevi, an actor who had a strange, hypnotic effect on audiences traversing south and north India over five decades. Of course it's unfair to compare the daughter with the mom, already. This is only her first film. But, without doubt, there is that inexplicable X-factor that you can sense on screen, which is hard to express in words, usually. And you can tell she must have to put in an enormous amount of work to pull off the role of a Rajasthani girl, and not just in the way she walks, talks (in Hindi, or even English).
Watch the trailer of Dhadak:
She plays a Rajput—a community that, like few others, takes excessive male pride in their supposed history, and their place under the sun. The boy, 22—a bundle of natural talent—is from a lower caste, even as this equation is assumed to be understood, rather than delved as deeply as in Sairat. Which takes away nothing from the strong mirror that the film serves as still, jolting you out of your slumber, patiently displaying how egos, hatred, and caste-hierarchies, seem to triumph over affection, emotions, compassion.
It's a deeply Indian film, in that regard, making some fine, subtle points along the way. You can sense it in that scene where the young Rajput heir of a massive palace naturally behaves like a servant before his casteless 'gora' guests. Or, the fact that going beyond caste or religion, it still takes the generosity of strangers for love to survive. As it does with the Christian family that nearly adopts the film's young couple eventually.
Authorial touches such as these are hard to miss. Director Shashank Khaitan (unsure if he has anything to do with Khaitan fans, although we do watch an advertisement of the product in the movie) made his debut with Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014)—remake of Hindi cinema's longest running movie, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), no less. Sure, same script. And yet he managed to own Humpty Sharma as a rollicking entertainer in its own right.
Khaitan does the same with Dhadak, carefully choosing his ensemble cast (Ashutosh Rana, and others), gently cranking up the lilting background score at almost balletic moments, capturing multiple moods, and locations, with tender love and care.
This isn't to say you don't know already know what's coming. I watched the last few minutes of Dhadak with my eyes half-closed in anticipation. For the rest of the film, my eyes were wide open, of course, looking at the story of innocence and love that must be told again and again. Every generation deserves its own Romeo And Juliet. Dhadak is definitely the post-millienial's QSQT, if you may.
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Dhadak Movie review: Will Ishaan and Janhvi win your heart?