Dhadak merges two tried and tested templates for newcomers in Hindi films — classic love story and cliché

Gautam Chintamani

June 11, 2018 18:50:03 IST

There comes a time in the history of every generation where some classic stories are retold.

This is almost a rite of passage and while sometimes the retelling can simply be a remake, it could also be a reinterpretation of an evergreen template. Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak is a little bit of both as it’s based on Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi smash hit Sairat (2016) and it’s also an attempt to recreate the tale of Romeo and Juliet.

Although one shouldn't judge a film by its trailer, it seems like the makers of Dhadak would like to you have great expectations.

Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor in Dhadak. Still from Youtube.

Karan Johar, who produced the film, appears to pitch it as a hybrid of Manjule’s Sairat with a dash of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). As Dhadak has already come to be known as the big break of Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor, the younger brother of Shahid Kapoor and the daughter of Boney Kapoor and the late Sridevi respectively, it’s just the kind of project that is crying out loud to be judged at first glance.

Dhadak merges two tried and tested templates for newcomers in Hindi films. It’s a classic love story in the tradition of Bobby (1973), Love Story (1981) and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and its exotic setting in terms of locations, namely Rajasthan, with the characters conversing (or at least, attempting) in Mewari, gives it the Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) or Ishaqzaade (2012) kind of dramatic aura. There is no denying that both Khatter and Kapoor look the part and adorn a sense of earnestness to the proceedings but for those who have seen Sairat, the visuals as well as the treatment both seem a let down of sorts.

Manjule’s Sairat featured newcomers, the brilliant Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar, in the lead as well but unlike the original where the focus was on the characters, the remake, for obvious reasons, seems to draw the attention of the viewer to the young actors playing those characters.

There is a possibility that such a feeling could engulf most people who are aware of about Khatter and Kapoor’s backgrounds and it would be unfair to hold that against them. There are instances where the two manage to charm you, and surely the film would offer many more moments, but there is also a possibility that this freshness could be sacrificed at the altar of a pervading sense of conventionality that seems to permeate from the narrative. This is a story of star-crossed lovers and what made Sairat standout was the rawness in which Manjule’s screenplay showed the social realities and evils such as casteism, which is what makes the families of the young couple see red.

A still from Nagraj Manjule's 'Sairat'

A still from Nagraj Manjule's 'Sairat'

In Sairat, the manner in which Manjule made both his characters nonchalantly mention things like ‘her father will kill you when he finds out’ or ‘forget her she is from an upper caste’, should make it clear to the viewer that there is no hope in hell for the young couple.

It also gives you an indication of how most Indians have the ability to stand in the midst of something as visceral as caste-based violence and honour killings and still manage to function as if this is a part of everyday existence. Just when you think things were finally looking up for the lovers who elope against the wishes of their family, things spiral out of control forever.

In an interview given last year, Khaitan clarified that while Dhadak and Sairat shared the basic premise, the former being based in Rajasthan has its “own challenges, conflicts and style of a love story.” In other words, the caste conflict in Sairat might be missing in Dhadak and if that were so, the film could simply rehash the standard cliché-ridden ameer-gareeb pyar.

The trailer more or less tells you how the tale would unfold and the actions of the retinue of the characters surrounding the lead pair, such as Ashutosh Rana, appear somewhat hackneyed, especially if the angle of the caste is not explored fully. Perhaps there could be an entirely different surprise awaiting the viewer, or perhaps not, but in the true tradition of Hindi films, let’s just wait as “picture abhi baaki hai.”

Updated Date: Jun 11, 2018 18:50 PM