Movie Review: Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak

If you have been a Sridevi fan, it is natural that you would find your eyes train on Janhvi Kapoor as she appears on the big screen for the first time. You might try to find resemblances, even feverishly hoping for something. I am betting at least some people will do so. Good news is that you will actually find flashes on Sridevi in Janhvi. Every now and then, the young girl will do what is natural – be like her mother. But that’s not the good news. Well, not the only good news. What is more important is that this girl is actually a good find… someone Karan Johar could pat his back for launching. Janhvi is effortless in her portrayal of Parthavi, a “uchi jaat” (higher caste), rich girl from Udaipur. Her expressions work and so does her delivery.

But what’s interesting is that she is matched scene by scene, and at times even trumped by Ishaan Khattar, another new actor, half-brother to Shahid Kapoor. Ishaan is refreshing because he does not seem to be caught up in the need to look good. He is comfortable in his skin and clearly concentrates on his craft.

Ishaan and Jahnvi are the biggest highs of Dhadak. As if almost by design… so that a great screenplay does not take away the delight of finding two new good actors.

That would be stupid though, if it is indeed by design!

For audiences who might not find the two young actors delectable, Dhadak could feel like a rather convenient a screenplay. Especially for the ones who are yet to get over Sairat, a Marathi film that broke many benchmarks. The film had left people speechless, unsure how to deal with it because of the way the director Nagraj Manjule dealt with the characters. Sairat was set in rural Maharashtra, and the people in the film behaved the way any real person would behave in those settings.

In comparison, Dhadak does not quite get as real – the trap that a Bollywood movie needs to willingly fall so as to please the larger audiences. This film is set in Udaipur and that is reinstated every now and then by the characters. There is no way you feel the essence of the place otherwise. Dhadak hence, after the joyous and breezy first half, becomes quite predictable. And then you are left waiting for the next big turn of events.

Writer-director Shashank Khaitan leaves out a lot from Sairat as he penned his version of the film, making it simpler and concentrating on adding extra effect on what he kept from the original. He wins some, loses some. Among the downers – he fails to bring in a growth curve in his characters, and the conflict that life’s struggles bring in is half-baked.

Shashank’s power as a director cannot be undermined though. Having delivered two back to back superhits, Shashank shows his understanding of the mainstream Bollywood audiences. And probably also understands that a larger part of his audience across the country has not watched Sairat, and hence the comparisons are unlikely to bother them.

To add to that, Shashank shoots this on a scale that pleases the eye. The aerial shots of Udaipur make you fall in love with the city. There is a lot of colour in each frame, to assert the good times while towards the later part, set in Kolkata, things are soberer.

Dhadak hence works – purely in the regular Bollywood ‘mainstream’ parlance. It is however, a missed attempt at creating anything that could last longer… like Sairat probably will. Except, of course, the careers of Ishaan Khattar and Janhvi Kapoor. Dhadak will live, just because chances are that these two will go a long way.

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