Dhadak Review: Khaitan’s remake of Marathi superhit is a visually compelling watch

They call him the Indian Romeo

The first time we see Madhukar Bagla (played by the rather likeable Ishaan Khatter), a small-town lover boy with gold earrings, turquoise-blue undergarments and mascara-lined eyes, he begs a woman standing next to him to lift her ghoonghat. As it turns out, the only veil here is the one over his eyes, and a timely slap from a friend helps bring him back to reality. Not to be subdued, our hero soon finds himself stuffing his mouth with all kinds of succulent-looking local delicacies – he has just enrolled himself in a competition to determine who the real ‘Udaipur ka Sultan’ is – and it is when he tries his hand at eating mirchis that he first locks eyes with the girl of his dreams.

His eyes are bloodshot: ostensibly from an overdose of spice, but also from one of love.

The girl herself is a study in contrast

Parthavi Singh, played by Janhvi Kapoor in her debut role, is a softie at heart, and a no-nonsense firebrand, who will not hesitate to throw a lappad or two (as the film reminds us on more than one occasion). Her character turns out to be an ill-construed filmmaking choice. In one particular scene, her paramour jumps (in slow motion, no less) into the pond that she and her friend have just claimed for themselves, splashing water all over her in the process. “Bahar nikal,” she says with all the confidence that she can muster (which is to say, not very much), trying to launch into a painfully contrived diatribe of sorts. The hero remains mute, and this eggs her on to finish making, what she perceives as, a statement of her own standing: “You speak English? Get out.” A leg ends up getting injured in the process, and unable to decide whether to smirk or to chide, she later delivers a homily: “Dhyan rakh. Zyaada khoodne se lag sakti hai.”


Dhadak is very easy on the eyes

Which is not to say that Dhadak is an inherently unwatchable film – it isn’t. Director Shashank Khaitan seems to have tired of tales that revolve around the casting of Alia Bhatt as a dulhaniya. So this time, he sets his story in Udaipur, one peopled with characters that are instantly relatable but also bear the trademark stamp of belonging to a Dharma feature. The production design, as expected, is consistently extravagant and larger than life, but it must be said that these visual aesthetics are the film’s biggest strengths. One of the most memorable shots is where the lead pair clandestinely make off in a boat against the backdrop of the heroine’s magnificently bedecked mansion.

There are other interesting characters

Speaking of the characters, Ashutosh Rana is a hoot as Ratan Singh, a moustachioed hoodlum and the film’s villain. He heads a political outfit and pronounces ‘opposition’ as ‘oposeechan’. who heads a political outfit. Aptly enough, his party – Rajasthan Lokatantrik is represented by a cannon in its manifesto. However, it is Shridhar Watsar as Purushottam, Madhukar’s diminutive Man Friday, that ends up leaving the biggest impression on the audience.

Here’s the final verdict

Dhadak is a film that makes a bold, brazen but familiar statement against honour killings and societal degeneration. Here, we see shades of other films from Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela to Ishaqzaade, from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak to Love Sex Aur Dhokha. There are moments that stay with you, most notably, a riveting, unflinching climax – a superbly executed sequence that’s shot in a single take and where silence is used to great (and haunting) effect. This sequence, however, is also one that tragically highlights the sheer inadequacy of its leading lady: Janhvi looks radiant, and there’s no denying her earnestness, but her performance in this film is largely a rote one, marked as it is by stock expressions and an unshakeable sense of sterility. Her mother might have been a Chandramukhi, an actress so cherished she might as well have been christened Mrs. India, but she herself remains a work in progress for now. Unlike what Celine Dion sang, the heart doesn’t always go on.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Shreehari H is a lover of films and an even greater lover of writing.











DhadakMovie Review