Movie adaptations in the Hindi film industry have always been tricky. The attempt gets even trickier when one is taking up a film that is still fresh in everyone’s mind and very relevant, like the Marathi blockbuster Sairat. The film changed the course of Marathi cinema and when it was said that it would be remade in Hindi, there was much curiosity. That curiosity has now been satisfied, as Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak has managed to do justice to the original film while also acquiring an individual flavour in its new avatar. Khaitan, who has entertained us with hits like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania, has tried to do something different in his third release and has hit a hat-trick with this film. Nagraj Manjule’s story inspired the Rajasthani backdrop screenplay penned by Khaitan and the freshness of newcomers, Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, added a beautiful tone to it.
The story starts with Madhukar, a simple, lower-caste boy from Udaipur, being mesmerised by the beauty of Parthavi, daughter of a rich, higher-caste politician. The two study in the same college and eventually their flirtation turns into true love. When Parthavi’s conservative and powerful family finds out about this, they beat up Madhukar. To save his life and their love, they run away and start a new life, where their own relationship is tested. How the two overcome these challenges and how their past catches up with them is what forms the crux of the story. The first half of the film is a tad long but flows smoothly as the love story is established. People complaining about the lack of true-blue love stories in Bollywood will like the old-school romance mixed with humour and drama. The second half sprints through the beginning of the troubles in the relationship of the central characters. Audiences who have seen Sairat are waiting to see how the tragic climax of the original will be retained in the remake. And, as far as shock value goes, they will not be disappointed!
Since Dhadak is an official adaptation, there are comparisons that are going to be made between it and Sairat. There are obvious similarities as well as differences which is a smart move on Khaitan’s part to distinguish his film from the original one. The setting in Udaipur, the dialect, the treatment of the love story and of course, the climax, give this film originality. However, there are some scenes which seem to have been picked up and melded with the spirit of Dhadak. The dialogue of the film is extremely strong, with the actors getting the Mewari dialect right. There are not many punches in the film but a lot of moments where the backdrop and the setting bring a smile to your face.
There are also some flaws in the film, like the lack of emotion evoked from the audience. While the film is entertaining, it does not tug at you the way Sairat did. Scenes that should have been aggravating do not manage to go deep enough to get that emotion out. Also, the biggest conflict in the film, the difference between the families of Madhukar and Parthavi, is not adequately justified. The audience is aware of the caste system conflict because of the original film but it seemed like since the makers of Dhadak had that base, they neglected to establish that factor, which is the core of the problems that form the second half and the end. Even the epic fight between the two central characters in the end lacks the punch it should have had.
The songs have already had a great base to start from, thanks to composers Ajay-Atul, who retained the symphonic soul of the original film, which was one of the USPs. Zingat is a chartbuster and the title track of Dhadak was also well-received. The Yad lagla recreation Pehli baar is also a welcome melody. Like his previous two films, this movie of Khaitan too has been aesthetically shot. The director along with the cinematographer Vishnu Rao have captured the scenic locations of Udaipur and Kolkata in their natural state, which adds to the beauty of the film. The film should have been edited crisply to save time and have better effect.
As mentioned earlier, the world of adaptations is tricky and not without its drawbacks. No matter how hard you work on an adaptation, there will be people who will still hold it to the standard of the original one. But Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Shashank Khaitan have respected the art of adaptation and given us a beautiful story that we might know but the novelty will still manage to surprise you.
Performance-wise, newcomer Ishaan Khatter does very well, considering this is only his second film. The actor gets the lingo perfectly and manages to ooze charm as well as substance in his performance. Debutante Janhvi Kapoor has taken her legacy forward with her first film. The actress looks beautiful and her effort to get her part right is visible and commendable. Ashutosh Rana as the strict father is on point, as usual. Shridhar Watsar, Ankit Bisht and Ishika Gajneja as the friends are good. Godaan Kumar is okay, as is Govind Pandey. Aishwarya Avinash and Shalini Kapoor are average. Kharaj Mukherjee and Shubhavi Harshal Choksey are entertaining.