Dhadak: A Flavorless Adaptation
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Remakes/ Adaptations, in general, carry the burden of living up to the original but if you take a film that is as impactful as director Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat and set out to make a Bollywood adaptation of it, you are bound to be carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Sadly, Director Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak struggles get out of the original’s shadow, and all it ends up being is a bland remake, that fails to leave an impression on you. This is what happens when one takes a passionate story and waters it down in excessive production design. But if you have not watched Sairat, chances are, you might not mind the subdued Dhadak all that much.
Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor), the daughter of an influential politician named Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana) falls head over heels in love with Madhukar (Ishaan Khatter), the son of a humble restaurant owner who hails from the lower economic class. When Parthavi’s father learns of their love affair, he tries to break them apart. But determined to be together, the couple elopes from Udaipur and head to Kolkata to break societal barriers and build a life together. The hardships they face once they elope and whether or not they make their relationship work forms the crux of the film.
While it is nice to see director Shashank Khaitan breaking out of the Badrinath Ki Dulhania franchise to try something new, Dhadak is far from being considered quality entertainment. The film’s first blunder lies in its decision to move this tale from the small town of Bittergaon to the grandeur of Udaipur. Bittergaon was the soul of Sairat. The people of their town and their angst and hostility towards crossing cast-ridden boundaries were incredibly alarming. Whereas, all Udaipur does to this tale is provide it with a beautiful visual landscape.
Just like Sairat, Dhadak too is a love story. But at its core is casteism trying to take over the reins of their future. This is a theme that comes naturally to director Nagraj but when Shashank takes it upon himself to give this a try through Dhadak, authenticity, and realism fall behind.
Sairat thrived on limitations in budgeting, in fact, a story like that demanded restrictions in production design. But Dhadak goes all out. From characters that never look their part to locations that look like the venue for destination weddings, there isn’t an ounce of rawness or reality in the film. Everything looks too made-up for it to leave an impact on you.
One of the predominant reasons why Dhadak feels bland is its decision to let a specific problem i.e casteism be blown up to the nation-sized generic problem i.e. politics. All the problems in the film seem to unravel in an objective manner. Nothing ever feels real or personal. As they elope to Kolkata, the struggle Parthavi and Madhukar deal with appears awfully two-dimensional. For instance, In Sairat, when Archana sets her eyes on the disgusting toilet she has to use, you witness the drastic changes in the lifestyle she is put through. Whereas all Parthavi faces in Dhadak is a non-threatening lizard that anyway makes her scream her lungs out. The real face of struggle is traded in for fluffed up problems. The couple’s problems appear awfully first world to be taken seriously enough.
This being said, maybe Dhadak fares disappointingly only to those who fell in love with Sairat’s passionate and immersive portrayal. If you’ve never watched the original, chances are you might find this adaptation fairly entertaining.
As Parthavi, Janhvi Kapoor’s performance is below par in emotional scenes but otherwise, she is fairly acceptable. Ishaan Khatter steps into Madhukar’s shoes effortlessly. Even though his portrayal does have a few glitches, his performance, on the whole, is adequate.
Ajay-Atul’s music for Dhadak though satisfactory is far from being as magical as the original. This merely functions as an average commercial version of the mind-blowing original. Visually, the film deviates from its genre. It gets too carried away by showing off the production value of the film rather than capturing the core essence of the story.
On the whole, Dhadak is bland and disappointing if you’ve watched Sairat. But if you haven’t, you might find it fairly entertaining.