Dhadak Story: Madhukar (Ishaan) and Parthavi (Janhvi) fall head over heels in love with each other, but the fact that they belong to different castes of society, becomes an obstacle in their romance. The lovers dare to go against societal norms and battle all odds for the sake of love.
Dhadak Review: The strength of Dhadak lies in its brimming freshness and innocence. That this film presents the new faces of Ishaan (one film old) and Janhvi (who marks her debut in Bollywood) works in the favour of its narrative. Like its original inspiration, Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat, the facet of love trying to survive the cruel world of politics and ruthless societal pressure, makes Dhadak engaging. The film follows the Sairat template for most part, but what is lacks is the grit and detailing of Manjule’s original.
Set in Udaipur, the story begins with young love blossoming in the midst of politics and a dominant class system. Parthavi (Janhvi) is the daughter of a local politician Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana), while Madhukar (Ishaan) is the son of a restaurant owner who comes from lower economic strata. Against societal norms, Madhu and Parthavi fall in love, and when her influential family finds out, they tear the lovers apart. The spirited young couple still find a way to elope. The film moves from Udaipur to Mumbai to Kolkata, which is a departure from the original. It’s an engaging journey, but the treatment isn’t consistent throughout.
With Dhadak, Shashank Khaitan steps out of the ‘Dulhania’ mould for the first time. Yet, his third outing has a lot of visual similarities to his earlier films. Owing to the source material, Dhadak is without doubt, his darkest film. He presents the naïve romance with sensitivity, even while fusing the story with ample dramatic highs. Oddly, for the subject at hand, the film looks a little too polished and slick. Even while the lead pair is struggling to make both ends meet, their fashion quotient always remains high. They rent a cramped, one-room house, but they step out looking prim and propah in almost every situation. For a film that stems from harsh reality, this glossed over aspect makes it unbelievable.
When it comes to the performances, Ishaan’s personality has the energy and zest of a newcomer, while his performance displays the cool confidence of a seasoned actor. He is pitch perfect in dramatic scenes and his puppy eyes keep the innocence of this love story alive. Janhvi looks radiant and beautiful, and her innocence catches the eye. Well, she does come across a little too raw in comparison to her co-star, especially in dramatic scenes that demand a powerful performance. It’s her first film, so she’s still rough at the edges, but it’s a good start. Shridhar Watsar, who plays Inshaan’s vertically challenged friend, is a laugh riot, and Ashutosh Rana as the menacing father and political figure is perfectly intense.
The music of the film is a definite highlight. Ajay-Atul pulls the right strings for this one, two tracks from Sairat have been reinvented, one of which is the huge hit Zingaat. The background score of the film (John Stewart Eduri) is designed interestingly and it blends in with the setting of this story. The film also has some stunning cinematography by Vishnu Rao, who makes a pretty picture out of the landscapes of Udaipur. While the editing is crisp in the first half, the pace slackens a bit in the latter parts.
While Parshya and Archi’s love story in Sairat was made with great honesty, realism and depth, giving us a perspective of the deep rooted prejudices in our society, Dhadak touches upon them too, but it merely skims the surface. Perhaps more attention to detail and delving a little deeper into the subject, would have given the film an edge. The lead up to the climax creates palpable tension, and the ending is hard-hitting, leaving you with enough to think about. With all its strengths and weaknesses, Dhadak attempts to highlight some shocking truths about our society and for that it makes a worthy watch.