Tag Archives: Nishant Dahiya

Movie Review: Kedarnath (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Two lovers on opposite sides of a religious and class divide fall in love just before their world falls apart in Kedarnath. The compelling central romance is eclipsed by a well-executed disaster sequence based on the tragic floods of June, 2013, which destroyed much of Kedarnath and killed thousands.

Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) works as a porter, ferrying Hindu pilgrims and their belongings up the winding mountain path to Kedarnath Temple. He and the other Muslim porters and shopkeepers have a history of cooperation with the Hindu innkeepers, allowing everyone to make a steady living during the six months of the year that the temple is accessible.

An upstart Hindu landowner, Kullu (Nishant Dahiya), sees profit in building a fancy new hotel in the valley, increasing the number of pilgrims and displacing a number of shopkeepers in the process. Mansoor — whose mother’s shop would be demolished to make way for the hotel — argues that more buildings and pilgrims could put the infrastructure of the whole valley at risk. Briraaj (Nitish Bharadwaj), a Hindu priest, appreciates Mansoor’s dedication to Kedarnath despite not being a Hindu himself.

That appreciation only extends so far, however. Briraaj isn’t about to let his younger daughter, Mukku (Sara Ali Khan), date a Muslim. Mansoor’s relationship with her exposes simmering inter-religious divisions and provides a pretext for violence, led by Kullu, who’s engaged to Mukku after dumping her older sister, Brinda (the beautiful Pooja Gor). The floods hit before the town can erupt into full-scale riots.

Khan shows poise and charisma in her first film role, but Mukku is problematic. She has a lot in common with stereotypical Bollywood man-child protagonists in that she’s immature and unable to see things from other’s perspectives. She has no regard for how her romance with Mansoor affects him, his family, or the other Muslims in the valley, so confident is she that her desires are right simply because she desires them.

Unlike the typical man-child protagonist character arc in which he finds a woman who makes him aware of the world and his role in it, Mukku’s worldview doesn’t change. Her position as the privileged daughter of a powerful man makes her overestimate her ability to shape her world to her will. If she’s just persistent enough, she can break down Mansoor’s barriers and make him fall in love with her. That same persistence will get her out of her engagement to Kullu, she believes. She’s even convinced that she can influence cricket matches and the weather.

Having been mostly insulated from negative consequences thus far, Mukku fails to account for all of the other factors that influence the events in her life, like the desires of other people, the lucky bounce of a cricket ball, and the randomness of a natural disaster. Mukku’s arrogance makes one question whether, from a narrative standpoint, her star-crossed romance with Mansoor is a worthy enough endeavor to balance the deaths of thousands in raging floodwaters.

That balance undermines the vibrant romantic tension conjured by Khan and Rajput. This is Rajput’s most charming performance in years after lackluster outings in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Raabta, a reminder of how good he can be in the right role. It would be fun to see these two leads pair up again in the future after Khan gains more acting experience.

Director Abhishek Kapoor successfully blends practical effects with computer generated ones in Kedarnath‘s climactic disaster, with Rajput and Khan battling treacherous waters in thrilling sequences. The rarity of Bollywood disaster movies is perhaps reason enough to watch Kedarnath, coupled with the intrigued of a star scion’s debut (Khan’s father is Saif Ali Khan). If only the central romance matched the film’s spectacle.

Links

Advertisements

Movie Review: Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (MFK, henceforth) is the sophomore effort from Y-Films, the youth-oriented production arm of Yash Raj Films. The Facebook-themed update of Cyrano de Bergerac is more polished than Y-Films’ first effort, the clunky and insensitive Luv Ka The End. But there’s nothing in MFK to inspire enthusiasm for the production house’s future efforts.

MFK starts off on the wrong foot in the way it introduces its lead character, Vishal (Saqib Saleem), the beloved class clown at his college. Vishal and his obnoxious best friend, Hacky (Prabal Panjabi), trick an obese fellow student nicknamed Machoman (Chitrak Bandyopadhyay) into performing a striptease in front of his webcam, and they post the video online.

Shortly thereafter, Vishal publicly ridicules the grumpy leader of the photography club — tomboy Preity (Saba Azaad) — at a planning meeting for the school’s 25th anniversary festivities. Vishal targets Preity for being a “man hater” and possible lesbian, though it’s really because she’s the only student who doesn’t find his cruel jokes hilarious.

After establishing Vishal as a bully, the film sets up its premise. Vishal is too shy to speak to lovely fashion student Malvika (Tara D’Souza), so he sends her a Facebook friend request via the account of his other BFF, campus rock star Rahul (Nishant Dahiya). Malvika’s cousin happens to be Preity, who happens to have a crush on Rahul. Preity accepts the friend request via Malvika’s account.

Preity and Vishal form a friendship chatting online while pretending to be Malvika and Rahul, respectively. In the real world, Vishal repeatedly undermines Preity while they collaborate on an anniversary celebration project about love on campus. Things get complicated when pretend “Rahul” suggests a face-to-face meeting, and “Malvika” accepts.

The plot unfolds predictably but pleasantly enough, especially as Vishal stops being a jerk. Friendship blooms between the classmates, and it becomes apparent that they are better suited for one another than they are for their dream dates.

My favorite relationship in the movie is between Preity and Malvika. The characters are roommates as well as cousins, and Azaad and D’Souza have a delightful rapport. Their playful banter lightens the mood more than any of Vishal’s jokes.

There are several scenes that take place at parties or dance clubs that feel overly-long, since it’s way more entertaining to actually be at a party than it is to watch one from a distance. But the movie as a whole is a harmless way to pass the time.

Links