DHADAK (2018)

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  • Release Date : 20/07/2018
  • Cast: Ishaan Khatter, Janhvi Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana, Ankit Bisht, Shridhar Watsar
  • Director: Shashank Khaitan

Dhadak chronicles the journey of Parthavi (Janhvi) and Madhukar (Ishaan) as romance blossoms between the two in their native town of Udaipur. Parthavi is the daughter of the local strongman and about-to-be MLA Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana) but is a headstrong girl with unprecedented freedom and power over her father. Madhukar is a happy go lucky guy who has his friends for company and Parthavi to drool over. His innocent advances are met with warmth and love from Parthavi who ultimately falls in love with him. Little do they know that their innocent romance will land them on a path peppered with pain, torture and deadly risks.

The closest film that Dhadak relates to will be “Ek Duje Ke Liye” even though there has been numerous similar films over the years. We know the story, we know our way around the screenplay but what would have made this film different from the others would have been the treatment and the performances. Upto some extent Dhadak captures your imagination. The first half is breezy with some funny and sweet sequences between Ishaan and Janhvi that would have worked a lot better if Janhvi could have tried a little harder to act and worked on her dialogue delivery. Everytime she speaks or tries to be bossy, she ends up being laughable. Ishaan is a natural it’s no wonder that he was chosen by the great Majid Majidi for his “Beyond the Clouds”.

The first half is peppered with fluff and sequences were Madhukar is shown drooling over Parthavi with puppy blue eyes. His friends played by Ankit Bisht and Shridhar Watsar add to some well realized comic sequences that extracted some genuine laughs. Ishaan asks for a kiss from Janhvi and she dares him to come down to his house on her brother’s birthday and take it. Ishaan arrives and the film completely changes gear from there on.

The second half of the film is a stark contrast from the first half. It is mostly about Madhukar and Parthavi running around hopping from town to town saving their neck from Ratan Singh’s men who are vying for their blood after Parthavi literally rescues and elopes with Madhukar. Once they reach Kolkata and the running stops, a different type of problem settles in. Domestic unhappiness. For the first time, the couple has to face the stark realities of the world like dirty rooms, lack of money, common toilets and lack of guardians to fall back on. Their love for each other is tested and a time comes when they are on the verge of calling it quits.

This is the portion of the film that is the most rewarding. Both Ishaan and Janhvi act their hearts out in these sequences. What I found wonderful was that there was very little said in these scenes. Most of it was just acted out through expressions and this is where both the actors scored well. The director was smart enough to not make a hero out of Ishaan. He is naïve, innocent and vulnerable. He loses his head quickly and is afraid to move away from his home town. He blames his plight on Parthavi and is mean to her on more than one occasion. He misses his parents too. Yet with time, he learns to be the man of the house and appreciates Parthavi for what she is and what she had done just to be with him. Parthavi has a harder time coping without her family and her struggle is brought out to life in a nuanced act from Janhvi towards the end.

Dhadak is not the kind of film that can be called a run of the mills love story. It smartly lures you in  with songs and dance routines, innocent love and beautiful settings but changes gear in a matter of minutes and turns into a whole new beast. The manner in which it ends will leave a lot many heartbroken. That was also the case with Sairat of which this one is a remake.

However, my issue with a film like this is very personal. There may not be a single individual who shares a similar opinion and that is perfectly ok. It very hard for me to like a film like Dhadak primarily because when I look at cinema, I expect to be enthralled, either by content or by execution or by the performances or simply by scale and reach. Dhadak has none of that. It’s a story that I wouldn’t bother missing. It doesn’t have the kid of performances that would force me to fall in love with it. It has a shocking finale but not one that brought tears to my eyes. I liked the performances (mostly in the second half) but I wasn’t involved in the tale. That was primarily because of the glossy exterior of the film which though wanted us to get involved in the milieu but didn’t give us a chance to.

If compared to Sairat, Dhadak would fall even more short of the mark but I wouldn’t get to that here. I viewed it as a standalone film with its own setting and characters and was never fully invested in it. It showed flashes of brilliance but they were too few and far apart. To sum it all up, Dhadak is strictly an average film that can be at best a onetime watch.

Rating : 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

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