Madhukar aka Madhu (Ishaan Khattar) is the son of a restaurant owner in Udaipur and is smitten by Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor), the daughter of a local ruthless politician Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana) who is feared by the entire city. Upon a few encounters, Parthavi also starts liking Madhu and they soon fall in love much to the dismay of Madhu’s parents who express the improbability of their union owing to their caste differences. Soon their romance is exposed to Ratan Singh who (of course) doesn’t take it positively and starts harassing Madhu and his family with the help of his power and dominion.
Can Madhu and Parthavi ever get together? How will Madhu escape the clutches of Ratan Singh and his power and reunite with his love?
Positive Points: –
- While most of the cast members have performed satisfactorily, Ishaan Khattar literally leads the film from its very beginning till its end. For any newcomer, it’s no less than an achievement.
- The songs.
- The second half of the film where the story grows stronger and deeper and more relevant to a common man’s life.
Negative Points: –
- A lukewarm debut from Janhavi Kapoor.
- Dhadak is the same old tried-and-tested story of inter-caste romance which we have seen umpteen number of times on the screen.
- Even if the makers wanted to focus on a hackneyed concept, they could have done it more innovatively without adding so much melodrama and nonsensical comical gimmicks in it.
- In spite of being based on the caste system in India, not many references to the same are made.
- For most of its runtime, it makes no sense.
Direction, Screenplay & Other Technicalities: –
Portraying inter-caste or inter-religion or inter-ethnicity romances or marriages is nothing new either to filmmaking or even art in general. The older Bollywood (or even the regional Indian film industries) have done this to so many times that even thinking of any such future ventures should be a matter of intense scrutiny for a filmmaking team. Even in recent times such movies have been made and have been largely successful as well viz. Two States and Sairat (the Marathi film, from which Dhadak has been adapted). But their successes can be credited to different factors as in the former did well because of its highly relevant take on inter-ethnicity marriage while the latter did it owing to its brutal portrayal of the caste system in India.
Shashank Khaitan’s film here doesn’t even come close to being a good film lest being as good as its original feature. Though I’m not a big fan of Sairat either, yet I have to admit that it was likeable and way better than its Hindi remake. Dhadak’s failure in luring its audience can be greatly credited to Khaitan’s screenplay (though his direction was somewhat a saviour here) which is built upon the quintessential Bollywood melodramatic elements especially in its first half. The characters are half-baked and so are a lot of pertinent elements regarding the caste issues in India. The second half comes up as sort of a respite from all the idiocy and becomes fairly stronger which wasn’t a monumental task either given its content. It relies heavily on the performances of its cast and thankfully most of them don’t disappoint. Ajay-Atul’s music is good and so is Vishnu Rao’s camera work especially his single-take long climatic shot which was simply superb.
After seeing Ishaan Khatter here, I regret even more than I couldn’t get to see his debut Beyond The Clouds (also released this year). He captures both the childishness and the growth of his character effortlessly. He is literally the soul of the movie and pumps life into a film plagued by poor filmmaking choices and evinces that he is here to stay for long.
A good thing about Janhvi Kapoor’s performance is that she isn’t terrible but she isn’t good either. She acts throughout the film with only three to four sets of expressions and in fact, she spent the entire first half with only one stoic face. However, she excels in her emotional montages and definitely alleviates herself from being derided after a dismal first-half act. Overall, I believe that she has the spark but needs a lot of polishing as an actor.
Ashutosh Rana is terrific as Ratan Singh but hardly gets much to do thanks to his poorly developed character. Godaan Kumar is also pretty good as Parthavi’s arrogant brother. Shridhar Watsar is hilarious as Madhu’s dwarf friend Purushottam. Kharaj Mukherjee also has an endearing cameo.
Final Verdict: –
Honestly speaking, Dhadak is a 60s Bollywood flick made in a 2018 setting. It offers you nothing new or interesting and even falls into oblivion in front of the aura of its source film. Ishaan Khatter, however, makes his mark which is enough to fetch him acting offers for at least the next five years owing to his talent as well as his background. Janvhi Kapoor, on the other hand, needs to work harder on her acting skills which I believe can become better with time and help her excel in this industry (look how Sonam Kapoor has improved!). Nevertheless, you won’t mind skipping this film and it’d be better if you do so.