Sadak 2 movie review: Mahesh Bhatt’s interpretation of a sleeping pill

Bhattsaab emerged from retirement to make… this?

Anna MM Vetticad August 29, 2020 10:21:01 IST

0.25/5

Language: Hindi

In a crucial scene in director Mahesh Bhatt’s 1991 blockbuster Sadak (Road), a grievously injured Ravi, played by Sanjay Dutt, flees a dangerous situation with the heroine, Pooja (Pooja Bhatt). He is wounded and bleeding profusely, but it does not occur to either of them that she could drive the escape vehicle. Though he is woozy from extreme pain and the blood oozing out of his wounds, it is still he who takes the wheel while she neither bats an eyelid nor offers protest, almost as if it goes without saying that driving is a god-ordained role and she, a paavam bechari ladki, could not possibly handle an automobile. 

I was reminded of that scene during the climax of Sadak 2, the sequel for which the veteran director has emerged from retirement. Indian women have sent rockets into space, headed corporations, steered states and been prime minister, but when Ravi – the same Ravi, played again by Dutt – senses a threat nearby, he unblinkingly hands a gun over to Vishal (Aditya Roy Kapur) and not Aryaa (Alia Bhatt), as if she, paavam bechari ladki, could not possibly know what to do with a firearm. 

This is one among many elements screaming datedness in Sadak 2, now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. The film also features Gulshan Grover as a villain with half an arm lopped off, a signature whistle assigned to the bad guy, a joke about his disability, a large knife that looks like cardboard and a fight starring an owl in a godown-like space.

Sadak was about Ravi’s determination to offer “suraksha to a young woman forced into sex work by a transgender brothel owner. Despite its cliches, conservatism and loudness, it had an interesting storyline in which something actually happened and Sadashiv Amrapurkar in full flow. Sadak 2 has nothing. 

The nothingness of Sadak 2 revolves around Ravi, now the owner of a fleet of taxis, who is suicidal because Pooja is dead. Aryaa enters his life demanding his services. She is a wealthy heiress running away from her Daddy who has been led astray by a fake guru-type colluding with her evil sauteli maaaaa

Her boyfriend Vishal says he fell in love with her at pehli nazar, a claim we must believe despite the Antarctica-scale coldness between Alia and Aditya. 

Aryaa spearheads the activist group India Fights Fake Gurus, and since some people in Bollywood still believe a love story cannot begin without a conflict to spark it, a fake conflict is manufactured here: (spoiler alert) for a vaguely explained reason – something to do with her being a rich girl – he has been abusing her online for running the group, but he later tells her he shares her beliefs and it does not occur to her to ask why then he had been trolling her over her movement. (spoiler alert ends)

It is not possible to be angry with Sadak 2 for its half-baked ideas and quarter-baked script though, because it is too boring to be worthy of even anger. 

Since a hill station played a prominent role in Sadak, the hills are Aryaa’s destination in Sadak 2 too. Since Amrapurkar memorably played a trans person in the first film, Makarand Deshpande briefly dresses in drag in this one. Sadak’s soundtrack is acknowledged here, and this film seems to have been made for no reason other than the fact that someone somewhere is convinced that Sadak deserves a tribute. Let’s make one thing clear: Bhattsaab made some remarkable films in the 1980s and 1990s (my favourite remains Arth), but Sadak is by no yardstick his best. It was not great cinema – it was a hit, that’s it.  

Understandably uninspired by the flat material they have to work with, Alia and Aditya are just plain in Sadak 2. It particularly hurts to see her being monotonous because she is capable of brilliance. Jisshu Sengupta playing Aryaa’s Daddy is the only one who is not a lost cause in this cast. Priyanka Bose who was wonderfully understated just recently in Pareeksha overacts inexorably as Sadak 2’s sauteli maaaaa. And Dutt lumbers through his lines to laughable effect. 

The young leads are fortunate that most of the writing is focused on the senior star. He is the one saddled with these words of wisdom that he dispenses to her, seated next to a fire late one night: “It takes two to make a truth. One who can tell it and one who can bear it. This poor guy has told you his truth. Now what will you do? We don’t let go of those close to us even after getting to know the worst about them... Do one thing – either embrace him and forgive him, or shoot him dead. Because this relationship will not end by simply pressing the delete button.”

Aiyyo.

The reference to a delete button seems to have been included by Bhatt and his co-writer Suhrita Sengupta to please a new generation of viewers, but heaven bless you if you can make out what that line means. 

Thrown in here and there are lacklustre twists, dreary songs, multiple references to suicide and faith without any depth, ordinary cinematography (barring a couple of stunning aerial shots of mountain roads), some cheap-looking shots clearly done in a studio, footage from Sadak and Pooja’s voice giving Ravi inexplicable advice.

That’s the other thing about Sadak 2: while the camera dwells on 61-year-old Dutt’s weathered face almost throughout, it cannot bear to show us a single photograph of the now-48-year-old Pooja. Every visual of her in the film is of the smooth-skinned girl she once was, not the woman with tremendous personality that she is in 2020. 

But as I said already, Sadak 2 is not even worthy of anger. It’s dead on arrival. Bhattsaab emerged from retirement to make… this?

Rating: 0.25 stars

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