Disclaimer: Before I delve deep into the romantic saga of the two most promising debutantes of Bollywood Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, I would like to notify my readers that the review is not a comparative study of Nagraj Manjule's Marathi film Sairat and Shashank Khaitan's Dhadak. The film has been approached like a separate entity with no strings attached.
Made under the banner of Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, 'Dhadak' presents Shahid Kapoor's half-brother Ishaan Khatter and introduces legendary actress Sridevi's daughter Janhvi Kapoor. The film opens with a small tribute to Sridevi by Janhvi, whose sudden demise earlier this year sent a shockwave across the nation.
Through the picturesque backdrop of Udaipur, the viewers are introduced to the supremely confident Ishaan Khatter as Madhukar Bagla, who holds the film right from the very beginning. Janhvi Kapoor as Parthavi emerges as one of the strong pillars of the film. The story progresses like any conventional college love story where the boy goes out of his way to catch a glimpse of his lady love.
But there isn't everything conventional about their story. Parthavi, who by the way rides a Suzuki Intruder, belongs to a family of a filthy rich politician Ashutosh Rana, while Madhukar is the son of a restaurateur. At first, Madhukar's attitude of a typical 'Romeo' is used to massage her ego by Parthavi but slowly and steadily the old-school romance turns into unconditional love. Ashutosh Rana, who has played the choicest antagonists in Bollywood, is back to doing what he does best and surpasses his own acts by doing the unthinkable towards the end of the movie
Apart from the financial statuses of the two lovers, there is a far greater evil that hinders their love story and that is casteism, a monster-in-disguise that still breathes in various parts of the world. Parthavi and Madhukar manage to break through the barriers that their family had set for them but are oblivious to the outcome of escaping a caste-obsessed society. In their process to escape their parents, the two protagonists traverse through Mumbai, Nagpur and finally Kolkata, where they manage to make their ends meet. The fragments of Shashank Khaitan's Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania blares through some of the scenes that have been shot in various cities.
Ishaan Khatter blows breath into his character Madhukar and he would make it hard for the audience to believe that it is his first time in Bollywood. To say that Ishaan was stupendous in Dhadak would be an understatement as he has not only delivered one of the best debut acts but also proved to be a threat to all the leading men in Bollywood. Even his superstar brother Shahid Kapoor needs to be extremely wary of his presence as Ishaan can clearly be the undisputed king of Bollywood in no time!
While for Janhvi, her act throughout was extremely honest and there was complete innocence in every scene that she delivered. Being brought up in a family of actors, the presence of cameras didn't bother her at all like it does to many newcomers. In the first half, there was a certain amount of cheerfulness in her acts but in on time the actress got out of her comfort zone and catered to the seriousness that her role demanded. There is one scene where Janhvi says that she misses her mother, that is when you know that she isn't playing a character anymore, her pain and anguish is more real than it can get. In that particular scene, she lifts off the veil of a naive 21-year-old and looks at reality in its face.
Apart from the leads, the supporting cast that includes Ankit Bisht, Sridhar Watsar and Kharaj Mukherjee, have pulled off their roles with utmost finesse. They were clearly the soul of the film and gave the much-needed respite from the tragedy-stricken moments with their light comedy.
Coming to the follies, Janhvi and Ishaan as Parthavi and Madhukar often forgot to maintain their Rajasthani-dialect and it got more evident when they were out of the city, Udaipur. Their accented-Rajasthani sounded funny and at times the idea of using the language in the film became questionable. However, that became pardonable when the two actors made the whole process of learning a new language in a new city look so natural with their rather slacky hold on the Bengali language.
Above all the Janhvi-Ishaan starrer makes for a good romantic watch which definitely has its own flaws but the film would be relished more if it is approached like a new film without any biases and comparisons in mind. All the actors have been absolutely true to their craft in the film and that makes 'Dhadak' stand out from the rest of the films of the same genre. So go watch Dhadak and give a warm welcome to Janhvi and Ishaan!
(Ratings: 3.5/5 Stars)