Dhadak: Ishan Khatter is poignant, Janhvi Kapoor feisty in this Sairat adaptation
Dhadak begins with Madhukar aka Madhu (Ishaan Khatter) being woken up by the girl of his dreams, Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor)
I would not recommend watching Sairat right before Dhadak. It wouldn't do well to compare the two films. Although that may not be the thought with which Dhadak was conceptualised (read: "adapted").
Dhadak begins with Madhukar aka Madhu (Ishaan Khatter) being woken up by the girl of his dreams, Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor). Quite literally as it's a dream, and he's actually anticipating meeting her at a ghevar eating competition, which he wins so he can meet her as she gives him the prize. She's at the community event to represent her family, and her father, Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana) an upcoming politician in Udaipur.
Madhu works as a tour guide and his family owns a restaurant in one of the beautiful bylanes of Udaipur. He's obsessed with Parthavi, and yet the divide between the two families is evident right from the beginning.
Much time is dedicated to establishing the differences in the universes that Parthavi and Madhu inhabit. This is done with the help of long, unwinding shots of Udaipur and a hummable background score. Janhvi is feisty and true to her character. Ishaan as Madhu portrays the conflict of being torn between the love of his life and being aware of the caste difference between their two families well. It's easy to have to a crush on him (especially if you've seen Beyond The Clouds and have deduced that he's a talented actor).
The most arresting scenes of the first half of Dhadak belong to (unsurprisingly) Ashutosh Rana as the menacing politician. Every love story needs a conflict for it to shine, and Rana poses as that conflict so convincingly that you find yourself rooting for the young couple. Director Shashank Khaitan knows how to craft a engaging love story. By the time we reach the title song in the film (one that syncs the love in this love story), you're willing to give this universe a shot as a viewer.
Ishaan as Madhu is endearing as a star-crossed lover. He gets as red as the t-shirt he wears when he first meet Parthavi at the town's talaaab (pond) — where most of the young peeps hang out. Janhvi looks like she's constantly holding back her emotions but she's at her best when she shares the screen with Ishaan. Meet-cute done. Chemistry established. So far so good? Well yes, except Dhadak is a scene by scene "adaptation" of Sairat. Imitation is a form of flattery, I guess. The setting change from rural Maharashtra to Udaipur can't be seen beyond the difference in language and costumes. But we're hoping for the best.
The minute Dhadak gets into the serious zone, after Madhu and Parthavi run away from Udaipur, away from their parents and casteist lives, the faults in the film start to surface.
It's not as if Ishaan and Janhvi can't handle intense emotions — in fact they are able to deliver in the emotionally intense scenes as earnestly as in the previous cutesy scenes. The fault here lies not with the actors or the director. It is in the fundamental writing of Dhadak. You don't get the sense that this is an "adaptation" but merely a superficial nod to the caste politics in Sairat.
The second half of Dhadak attempts to show the journey of the young couple and how they mature into working individuals. There's a wedding, there are jobs, there is struggle. So nobody can really point a finger at Dhadak for not attempting to make a good film. It is a good film, no doubt. But the pertinent question remains — why? Why feel the need to remake a gem like Sairat if the dive into caste would be so superficial? This aspect can be seen most significantly in the climax, which can be called forced at best. Anyone who has seen Sairat will rave about the hard-hitting climax. Dhadak merely touches the surface in comparison, as if to check a box on shock value.
Credit to Ishaan and Janhvi for their decent performances and their ability to sink into their characters' skins. But Dharma Productions should have just stuck to making a Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania-esque commercial entertainer for Janhvis's debut. After all, it is their forte (no sarcasm here, I genuinely like the series).
In the end, if there is one person who saves Dhadak, it is Ishaan Khatter.
Our complete review of the film by Anna MM Vetticad is now up. Read it here.
Watch the trailer for Dhadak here:
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