Shall I? Or shall I not? I was in two minds when I booked my tickets for the new film “Dhadak”. Directed by Shashank Khaitan and produced by Karan Johar under the banner of Dharma productions and Zee Studios I had heard this movie is the Hindi remake of Marathi movie “Sairat”. I was put off by this comparison between the two directors but still decided to give it a try and see what the movie “Dhadak” had to offer.
Set in the backdrop of Udaipur, Rajasthan, “Dhadak” is a love story of two newcomers cast by the Johar clan. Madhukar played by Ishaan Khatter, the son of a well-to-do hotelier and Parthavi played by Janhvi Kapoor, the daughter of a wealthy hotelier and politician Ratan Singh played by Ashutosh Rana. While I never felt the need to compare both the movies “Sairat” and “Dhadak” I am still sharing my views on why “Sairat” being a Marathi movie is appreciated by non-Marathi’s like me and many others and “Dhadak” falls flat despite being produced under the banner of such a powerful production house.
To start with, let me say in an unbiased way that it is a poorly made film with several drawbacks. The first one being the dialect spoken. To understand how the effect of simple dialects can make a major impact please go and watch “Sairat”. “Dhadak” was set in Udaipur, Rajasthan but the dialogues fail to spark the fire. “Sairat” had its base in rural Maharashtra and the language had made a major impact as the cast was chosen carefully by Manjule. Archie and Parshya a speak rural Marathi dialect with such proficiency that it establishes them as true locals of the region. Unlike the characters of Madhu and Parthavi who seemed to have mugged up the dialogues and delivered them upon instructions of the director. And in no way did they look like locals from Udaipur unlike the cast of “Sairat”.
Though both the movies dealt with the love stories between a rich girl and poor boy “Sairat” has more to offer in terms of love and caste prejudice. Archie was a confident girl and Parshya loved her the way she was. Parshya was a reticent person but was strongly in love with Archie. There were no kisses blown in the air, nor fantasies dreamt up about Archie in skimpy attire. The love which blossomed between them was shown in many unconventional ways. Like Archie, a girl from the upper caste asking for water from Parshya’s family who were from a lower caste which left the entire village flabbergasted. Or Archie driving a tractor and inviting Parshya to meet her alone on the pretext of showing their lands.
“Sairat” showed Archie stealing money from her home and fleeing away with Parshya as she was aware that no one from their families was going to support their love affair. Nowhere does Archie downsize Parshya or thinks that she is better than him. “Dhadhak” had the Dhak Dhak affair where Madhu dreams of Parthavi in a veil and fantasizes about her. Parthavi is showcased as more of a rebellious woman and not a feminist as she tries to make a mockery of Madhu for his inability to speak English. She is aware of her superiority over Madhu though she shoos away a heckler when he was trying to ridicule Madhu when he was singing in English for her which was a challenge to prove his love for her. So while “Sairat” was realistic, this looked like a typical Bollywood drama which failed to strike a chord of empathy.
Parshya had two friends Salim and Langdya (who was disabled) and Madhu also has two friends but unlike a limp person his friend was short and suffering from baldness. He was ridiculed throughout the movie. To make a derision of someone’s appearance should have been avoided but here director Khaitan has used this fact to draw comic scenes in this movie. Here shows Manjule’s maturity over Khaitan on how to depict a character despite one’s drawbacks and not make fun of it.
The caste factor was also terribly handled in “Dhadak”. In both the movies, it was shown that the protagonist’s brother slaps the professor. “Sairat” had left the audience bewildered by depicting such an act by an upper caste person and there were no answers provided whereas here in “Dhadak” Parthavi’s brother Roop is made to apologize to the professor as they needed to win the upcoming elections. Archie’s visit to Parshya’s house left everyone in the village startled and in “Dhadak” Parthavi goes and meets Madhu in the hospital who had been injured because of her. She also speaks to Madhu’s mother and nowhere is it controversial.
Also after running from their homes, Madhu and Parthavi land up in Madhu’s uncle house. He gets a strong support system where his uncle with his connections in Kolkata makes arrangements for both of them. In Kolkata, they are assisted by a compassionate landlord and his wife who manages jobs for both of them. Whereas in “Sairat” both Parshya and Archie lands up in the most vulnerable situation. They have no social sustenance except for a Samaritan who provides them with a meagre support and they settle in a slummy outpost in Hyderabad. They struggle to earn money and in the process end up in misunderstandings with Archie breaking down and trying to run to her mother whom she missed. It was quite natural for a young woman to ache for her family whom she had left for the one she loved. While Parthavi had the luxury of site seeing Kolkata in arms of Madhu, Archie could never have that privilege in Hyderabad as both dealt with life’s hardships. The same nuances were handled poorly in “Dhadak”.
The expressiveness of the “Sairat” actors also lack in “Dhadak”. Although Ishaan tried acting naturally, Janhvi lacked the ‘Jaan’ (life) in her emotions.
The climax was the worst part in which “Dhadak” failed miserably. “Sairat” had a heart-wrenching end in the name of honour killing which had left the audiences wondering if Manjule would make a sequel to this movie. While “Dhadak” leaves you parched and heave a sigh of relief that the movie has ultimately ended.
Good love stories dealing with contexts of India’s prejudiced caste system and honour killings require great filmmaking skills and Khaitan and Johar have totally failed on this front. To sum it all up, watch “Dhadak” at your own risk. Chances are like me you will feel that you have wasted your money watching this baloney in name of a movie and that too when it is a remake of Manjule’s masterpiece “Sairat”.