Date Released: 7 December 2018
Genres: Drama, Romance
Duration: 156 minutes
Age Restriction: PG 13
Actors: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan, Nitish Bharadwaj
Directed By: Abhishek Kapoor
This film claims to be about the Kedarnath floods of 2013, but the catastrophe serves as an afterthought, coming in at the very end of a 1980s-type star-crossed romantic melodrama.
It opens with Mansoor, (Sushant Singh Rajput), a porter who carries pilgrims up and down the slopes of Kedarnath. Mandakini aka Mukku (Sara Ali Khan) is a feisty Hindu girl living, with her father, a local priest. Things get complicated when Mukku falls in love with Mansoor. The rest unfolds as every typical story where an upper-class Hindu girl falls for a lower-class Muslim boy. Mandakini’s family finds out and they’re livid.
The girl’s fiancé (yes, this is the kind of film where she has a fiancé) orders his goons to beat the boy up. It’s pouring. The boy writhes in the slush as kicks and blows come at him. So far so familiar, but here’s the twist. The girl watches from the floor above, calmly. Her hysterical sister asks her to do something, else the boy might die. She simply says, “Itne mein hi mar gaya to aage kaise jhelega!” If he dies after just this much [suffering], then how will he take what’s going to come!
Sara Ali Khan is breathtaking in her debut. Her confidence and on-screen charm are a testament to her talent. Director Abhishek Kapoor spends a good part of the first half capturing her beauty and manages to get her to deliver an array of emotions. She’s confident, makes her presence felt and is instantly likeable although she does miss the rawness needed for the role in a few scenes. Sushant Singh Rajput manages to put across Mansoor’s earnestness without making the man seem bland.
While the inter-faith romance between characters of different faith forms the core of the story, the filmmaker tries hard to make us believe in a love story that isn’t really organic. We are forced to root for a couple with a love story established in one really long song, cheesy dialogues and romance in the rain.
The film is generally watchable, and apart from the leads, a lot of the credit goes to the cinematographer, Tushar Ray. From the first scene, his camera does a 360, free-floating kind of circular movement, whose freedom colours the rest of the film. The Kedarnath scenery is gorgeous and provides a vivid, second-hand experience.