RSVP & Guy In The Sky Pictures present “Kedarnath”

Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala & Pragya Kapoor

Directed by: Abhishek Kapoor

Written by; Abhishek Kapoor & Kanika Dhillon

Music: Amit Trivedi

Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan, Nitish Bharadwaj, Pooja Gor, Nitish Dahiya, Sonali Sachdev, Alka Amin & others

After his 2016 catastrophe, “Fitoor,” director-co-writer Abhishek Kapoor, whose only plus as a director remains “Rock On!!” in 2008 (which had worked only in a couple of metros) has obviously not upgraded his skills and rearranged his filmmaking fundas. Maybe he is carried away by some critical success achieved by his unsuccessful “Kai Po Che!” (2013), which was then touted as a commercial success as well!

But I will be hard-pressed to recall a more sluggish and pointless love story than this one, which uses a natural disaster, which really happened in 2013 in the holy town of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, in what turns out to be almost a farcical manner.

Consider this: the priest (Nitish Bharadwaj) tells his daughter Mandakini aka Mukku (Sara Ali Khan) that he will not allow her union with the Muslim Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput), even if “pralay” (extreme natural calamity) happens. And it does!

Thus, a real incident that was shockingly traumatic and terrible beyond belief is actually ascribed to an innocent love story between a priest’s daughter and a Muslim ‘pitthu’ (who carries pilgrims and their baggage on both his back and a mule). And let us not forget that Mansoor, a practicing Muslim, has been serving the Kedarnath shrine since he can remember, even fighting passing religious prejudice from tourists who are later bowled over by his simplicity.

There is reference to an extraneous character (not shown) of Mansoor’s father, which is completely irrelevant to the context. One also fails to see how a self-styled upright priest allowed a suitor (Nishant Dahiya) of changing his future marital preference from the pandit’s younger to the older daughter, and how and why he tolerates the high-handed prone-to-violence bully.

And while Mukku’s character has glaring inconsistencies, especially in the matter of her rebellion and the form it takes, and her sudden docility, the weirdest character is that of her sister, who seems to have horrendous mood swings. The mothers – Mukku’s and Mansoor’s – are reduced to doormats. There is talk at intervals of building a tourist hub by the suitor, but nothing comes of it other than an increase in his antagonism to Mansoor, who slams the proposal for valid reasons. The sequence at the meteorological department is an exercise in futility as well, considering that no one gives the village any warning to evacuate in time.

Full marks to the VFX and action team for the shots of the floods, but at the same time, they serve no purpose other than increasing the length and budget of this film that has little by way of content to actually aspire to success.

Absurdly, Mansoor finds his way to Mukku in a scenario where people and houses are being just carried off as easily as feathers in the torrent of Nature’s fury. Then comes a final dramatic twist in the most clichéd and ‘filmi’ way possible, which looks ridiculous in the way it is conceived and executed. And this sequence is the last straw that breaks the back of this sluggish, overdone and uneventful love saga, despite its crisp 120-minute length!

Other than “Namo Namo,” Amit Trivedi’s background score is dull, as is the entire screenplay and even the dialogues (Kanika “Manmarziyan” Dhillon) that perhaps show sparks intermittently for a total of 15 minutes! The background score is alright, so is the camerawork (Tushar Kanti Ray) and production values. Kapoor needs a long respite from making films, preferably for watching the best and most successful films of the last 25 years in Hindi cinema and analyzing what makes for a good film.

Sushant Singh Rajput is natural, but not at his best. Most of his lines even remain inaudible! Dahiya hams and Bharadwaj is sincere – which does not, in this case, mean effective! No one else has a role to speak of.

No one, that is, other than Sara Ali Khan, who impresses as the strong-willed yet confused Mukku. This wonky character is made not just bearable but likable and identifiable by this newbie who has no raw edges. We wish she had got a better launch-pad and a script and director who really did her justice.

And having said that, it is some of the simple and everyday interactions between Mansoor and Mukku before the interval that temporarily keep the film afloat with false promise of something good to come. But by interval time, we know this film will be a goner.

Rating: ** (Just About)

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