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Dhadak is a pale copy of the free-spirited Sairat, and misses the basic connections that made the original such a delight to watch. Watch it at your own risk, says our reviewer.
I used to love my elder brother’s handwriting when I was little, say 9 or 10. His was a very pearly, cursive, decorative sort of handwriting that enhanced the value of the page. So I used to sit for endless hours tracing over his writing. I was sort of obsessed with it, to the extent that one day I just traced out his original writing and told my caretaker that it was mine. Of course my caretaker guessed the next minute and befitting a traditional caretaker she went on a long rant of how I was just an unoriginal copycat and that I should not be lying like this simply because I liked someone else’s stuff.
Now although there is no ‘lying’ part here, because from the day dot we knew it was a remake, but the state of Dhadak is similar to those traced lines of mine. While they manage to trace out a little of the original, most of the overlay goes away from the dots and the lines and ends up as a haphazard shape that keeps stabbing the eye with its mediocrity.
When you decide to remake a monumentally astounding regional movie, the first thing expected out of you is a good, rigorous study of it. And when I say ‘study’, I mean careful observation and understanding of the exact moments and emotions of it, the frames that captured them, the music that enhanced them, basically the essence as we call it that makes it a piece of brilliance. Shashank Khaitan probably did study all of these aspects of Sairat and then carefully managed to pick everything and keep ALL of it aside and away from his own Dhadak. Let me take you through some things, without spoilers of course.
The location. The film is set in Udaipur, as against the original, that was set in a small village called Bittergaon in Maharashtra. So we get to see the palatial castles and colourful imagery, vibrant outfits, a few frames that nourish the eyes. Considering how the basic storyline is supposed to revolve around caste/class struggles, I find it an okay-ish choice, though not very clever. Now with Udaipur comes its culture, its language, its body-postures, its accent, its flavour. And I find Khaitan quite average as he tries to capture these.
None of the actors master the accent. And I mean NONE. Ashutosh Rana is so massively disappointing. In the entire movie I kept looking for one instance, that one scene, where I thought Khaitan would redeem Rana’s character by not completely wasting this giant box of talent away. But nope!
Another thing that was conspicuously missing was the basic connection. The parents of both Madhu (Ishaan Khatter) and Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor) seemed so distant and aloof. The friendships also seemed disengaged and farcical. The dream sequence and the cricket scene in Sairat have been modernised and localised as have been most of the other scenes. While I would have wanted to give it some credit, it was practically unbelievable to me that a hotelier who hosts international tourists, no matter how small-time he is, cannot afford to buy a fan for his house. There is also this useless side-plot of Madhu’s father hating his brother-in-law for marrying a Maharashtrian woman. It seemed out of place to me simply because I didn’t really understand the point of putting those 2-3 unnecessary shots.
I was reading this somewhere and I think I agree to a large extent that the problem with nepotism is that the star kids who enter the arena are sometimes over-trained for a lot of situations, so much so that they end up being underwhelming in some very demanding scenes. In the original, Archi (Rinku Rajguru) and Parshya (Akash Thosar) were both debutantes and had absolutely no experience whatsoever. They were clean slates before they started writing their characters on it. That allowed them the freedom to blend with the characters. Ishaan and Janhvi, on the other hand, have slates full of early Bollywood training and conditioning, so that the most they could emote was superficial. Now the problem is that as much as I believe Rinku and Akash can go back to their clean slates for their new roles (because they have the advantage of understanding what a clean slate looks like), despite all their other privileges Ishaan and Janhvi lose out there, and I firmly believe that for a profession such as acting, it is crucial.
Ishaan, out of the two, surprised me in a lot of scenes and it would be injustice to include him in the overall artificiality of the movie. He seems raw in a lot of places. Vulnerable, insecure, jealous, scared, crazily in love – Ishaan manages to extract the right moods. But Janhvi, spic and span, ironed hair, runs all day and night, sleeps on the roads, and yet manages to look flawless and translucent, as against the messy hair and dark eyes of Archi. I might as well blame the direction there. But even acting-wise her face is flat with 0.5 expressions, (.5 for the eyebrow raises!)
It just doesn’t seem real, and hence when Archi becomes lonely and cries about missing home we feel a tug at our hearts because it is so authentic, but when Parthavi cries with those plastic eyes about loneliness, it just comes out whiny. How I would have loved to look at an angry Parthavi throwing around some Rajasthani insults at people, donning a badass attitude while riding the bike (that bike scene was so sad I actually wanted to cry), or driving a tractor and smashing some important stereotypes, than just saying “ghee kam dalna, mane slim rehna hai”. And let me not get started of how they ate up the dashing, dynamic character of Suman.
The background score could have enhanced a lot of shots. But it fails miserably. The songs aren’t memorable. For some reason, despite the music by Ajay-Atul, it has no impact, mostly because the regional flavor is missed by miles.
The cinematography misses he pulse of cities of Mumbai and Kolkata, and with that it avoids the desperation of two young adults trying to adjust to a life they never willingly chose. Simple shots in Sairat like the three friends dancing wildly to the sound of a passing train before crossing the railway line, the carefree, spirited smiles and laughter as the friends scatter colours and play Holi enhance the camaraderie between the characters, touching a chord and eliciting nostalgia. But Dhadak and Khaitan miss the entire point of it.
Khaitan seems very reluctant to pay attention to any build up of relationships except for maybe a few scenes where the character of Sachin Bhowmick (Kharaj Mukherjee of Kahani fame), the landlord, tries to weave back some lost threads of sentiments.
The stellar supporting cast of Sairat had a personality of its own. You felt even for the side-character of Pradeep who mistakes cut nails wrapped in paper to be a love letter from his love interest and gets mocked at by his friends, just before he exposes his own weakness, which is looked at with a fresh reverence by his friends and captures our hearts and minds.
If I take a look at the humour in Dhadak, it looks forced and uneasy. Humour in Sairat was captured through little moments of naive adolescence that brought joy and laughter and sounded just right in its place. The entire humour of Dhadak is based on jokes like “Puppy, matlab kutte ka chota bacha” as well as some mockery and disdainful insults of a supporting character who is a bald dwarf (Shridhar Watsar). You do not feel for his unrequited love. Not once.
I feel a major part of the core was also lost because of curbing the running time. Sairat, with its running time of 174 minutes gave scope for more nuance to develop, while Dhadak’s shortened running time of 137 minutes (shortened by a whopping 37 minutes), compelled the makers to drop those little developments that I feel were tremendously essential for a sensitive subject as this to work. Isn’t it just a sheer waste of what could have been a good cinema?
Let me now just take a few lines more and talk about that climax. They changed it a little. But of course, you cannot copy the whole thing and then risk a “Yaar, why didn’t they use their own brains at all?” So obviously they picked up the shock factor that Sairat rode upon, flexed it a little, pulling it to an almost breakable point of tolerance and shocked us even more, inducing more tragic emotions.
It probably did work well, until I reflected some more about how the thought process behind honour killings was kind of amiss. For me that was a colossal damage. But I am also not sure how else would they have ended it, without it being an exact copy. Which makes me want to scream this out (in a void because no one’s listening) – SOME MOVIES SHOULD BE LEFT ALONE.
I understand I should probably try and analyze it as an individual movie. But it is very challenging to do so when you know, since it was first announved, that it is not. So I think it would be very unfair to the original movie, to view this one as an individual piece. Because there is way more effort put in earlier to even credit Dhadak for something it is not.
If my comparison is just Bollywood, then I guess it is not exactly a bad movie. There have obviously been worse. But I think we should stop comparing Bollywood to just Bollywood now. It is high time we allow them to break out of their cocoons and dare them to flourish. We have all mollycoddled them enough to accept patchiness time and again, our only excuse being “Yahi chalta hai idhar”, (This is how things work here) which isn’t even a fair excuse.
Let me, however, credit KJo and team for something really very vital that they managed to break. They actually kept the entire film devoid of any objectifying, worthless item numbers, even keeping the college average and not making it a colourful St. Xavier’s. And that, my friends, should be considered a start.
Sairat left an impression by staying true to its title – free spirited and rebellious, with ‘sky is the limit’ performances, but Dhadak goofs up largely when compared to it’s title – you CANNOT have a heartbeat without having a heart.
So if you are feeling really masochistic like me then wait for some time and watch this one on Amazon Prime. I’d rather recommend watching Sairat again right now if you want to feel a little morally compensatory.
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