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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Dhadak Movie Review: It’s more than just ‘Sairat’

Dhadak has been awaited with bated breaths since we get to see the supremely talented Ishaan Khatter paired opposite Janhvi Kapoor – who makes her Bollywood debut in this Shashank Khaitan directorial.

What also adds to this anticipation is the fact it is an adaptation of Marathi blockbuster, Sairat, with Karan Johar stepping in as the producer. Therefore, there are a lot of expectations attached to the film.

Finally, the wait is over and the movie has released. So, how good is the movie? Filme Shilmy reviews.

From the moment they set eyes on each other, Madhukar (played by Ishaan Khatter) and Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor) felt something familiar… Something pure. However, as their love blossomed, so did their problems. Torn between society and their families, their fate became uncertain. Dhadak is a simple and passionate story about first love.

Initially, I was quite sceptical about the film. I thought that the film would actually be a rehash of Sairat with minimal changes. But Dhadak has its own flavour. From the locations to character development, there is a completely fresh approach to the movie and this is evident in the production value. Plus, there are several humorous quotients which completely adhere to a typical Karan Johar style – which itself differs from the few comedy parts in Sairat, especially during the sequences when Madhu tries to woo Parthavi.

This film is based in Udaipur – a city that exudes royalty and colour. As a viewer, one gets to feast their eyes upon various sets including rooftop cafes and traditional yet palatial mansions, many of which have not been exposed much in Bollywood, not that I’ve seen.

But these venues are more than just places, they convey a key point about the film’s narrative: In a seemingly picturesque city, two innocent star-crossed lovers are caught up in political and patriarchal oppression.

Shashank Khaitan has always incorporated a chauvinistic father in his films. In his last venture Badrinath Ki Dulhania, we saw this through the character of Badri’s father, who commands his son (played by Varun Dhawan) to find his runaway bride Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) and bring her back so that they can “hang her from the ceiling.”

In Dhadak, the misogynistic father is portrayed by Ashutosh Rana, who plays the role of Ratan – Parthavi’s father and a cut-throat politician who only cares about his power. The women in the household are subdued, especially Parthavi’s mother. Furthermore, he even makes a statement about how he would kill his daughter if he ever saw her after she had eloped with Madhu.

But this time, we see the female protagonist fighting back… Whether it is to save her beloved from the antagonists or even adjusting to challenging and alien circumstances. As such, usually in Bollywood films, it is the man who comforts the heroine during times of turmoil, but here it is the female protagonist who does the comforting – especially during the scene when Madhu and Parthavi have run away from their families and are on the train. Through such sequences and in a very subtle way, Shashank challenges the portrayal of a stereotypical female protagonist.

In addition to the overall packaging, Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter are dynamite as they do not ape Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar’s original performances. They bring their own acting flair to the roles of Parthavi and Madhu, respectively. Ishaan gave us a taster of his calibre as an actor in his debut film Beyond The Clouds. In Dhadak, he proves his mettle yet again. Plus, we get to see more of his skills as a dancer and he is superb as that too. His intensity during the emotional and serious quotients is par excellence.

One cannot even tell that Janhvi Kapoor is making her debut with Dhadak. In just one film we see her display a plethora of emotions and she does so with sensibility. Furthermore, her expressions are excellent. But what we missed out on was seeing more layers to her character. There is a point when her character claims to be tired of living her affluent life. I feel this sentiment could’ve been emphasised more throughout the film. All we needed is a dialogue between Parthavi and her mother about how she should either accept this life or support her in rebelling against it, I think this would’ve shed more light on Parthavi’s dilemma and frustration in life.

I must also acknowledge that both Janhvi and Ishaan share a solid chemistry and this translates very well on celluloid. One actually feels the love between Madhu and Parthavi. Moreover, we see their characters mature through the film and both actors showcase this progress with such sensitivity. As such, one can also resonate with their innocent love.

Another great performance is delivered by Ashutosh Rana. We know that Ashutosh Rana is au fait with playing negative roles and again he follows suit, in a subtle way. His presence is sufficient for us to feel afraid of him. Plus, nuances like when he signals his daughter to smile after winning the elections just reek of tyranny.

Besides Shashank Khaitan’s work as a director and the performances, Dhadak has some excellent technical aspects. Firstly, Vishnu Rao’s cinematography is first-rate, especially during the song sequences. This enhances the romance between the lead protagonists. Secondly, Ajay-Atul’s music encompasses the same flavours of Sairat especially in the ‘Zingaat’ and ‘Pehli Baar’songs but despite the strong Marathi fervour in the songs, they have been customised well to suit the Rajasthani milieu.

It is a given that Dhadak has a lot of strong points. However, I feel that the film lacks that same intensity as Sairat. In an attempt to make the movie more colourful and grander, the intensity takes a slightly back-seat. Also, the second half seems to be slower than the first – which is the same issue I had with Sairat as well. Having said that, I’m glad that Dhadak does not focus on the caste differences but more on the stature differences between the lead protagonists. This distinguishes the Karan Johar production from the original Marathi film.

On the whole, it is not easy to adapt a blockbuster like Sairat. Plus, to add your own spin to it is a risky and challenging task which Shashank Khaitan has successfully accomplished in Dhadak. 

Additionally, the film has given us two new superstars in Bollywood through Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, who enact their parts with such maturity and are definitely set to take the industry by storm. Parthavi and Madhu are two characters that are forever etched into our memory. Strongly recommended!


Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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