So Predictably `90s
This is a disaster. By which I refer to, of course, the film's genre — in the same way as Titanic, the 1997 film, rather than Titanic, the 1912 ship. With that, I'm also telling you nothing new. Given that the trailer of Kedarnath — pretty much synopsizing the entire picture with its best possible scenes/elements (and they're all well done) — shows the temple-town being ravaged by the fury of nature, which took place, most recently, in the summer of 2013, misplacing, annihilating thousands of locals and pilgrims.
The movie's poster has the lead couple — the girl on the boy's hunched back — with the tagline: Love is a pilgrimage. Which means, you're already aware, this is very much a romantic movie. So you know both ends — the flowering of young romance, and the inevitability of a natural disaster. What occurs in between, however, seems so frickin' predictable, it's almost like being a trekking pilgrim, seeing the temple on top, and the road winding upwards, knowing exactly where you're headed, and how you'll get there in the first place.
The boy is poor, and Muslim. The girl is rich, and Hindu. There is a khadoos, kattar (morose, fanatical) father of the bride. The mother is lachaar, helpless. The father has found a suitably dim-witted suitor for his girl. All hell breaks loose. Fairly constricted in space/scale, set in a hilly hamlet, the movie really starts off as a kind of a 'gori tera gaon bada pyara' sort of Amol Palekar picture, before descending into a romance so disjointed (let alone with a Sairat-type subversion, or even a hint of a twist), you find yourself observing the peripheral stuff far more — an inevitable sign that the story itself isn't quite working for you as an audience.
And so, it's nice to see, after long, Nitish Bharadwaj, Mahabharat's Krishna, play the sanskari baap. One wonders if the boom-shankar chillam-champ sadhu in the film was standing in for the hugely under-rated/appreciated actor Rajesh Vivek (Guran from Lagaan), who passed away couple of years ago. You want to get hold of that ringing cell-phone that survives a full-on flood; there can be no better ad than that, for any hand-set brand!
Which is, of course, to take away a lot from the movie's main pair; and this is possibly because they hardly inspire as much confidence as might befit a restlessly rebellious romantic lead —sparks flying, et al — carrying an entire film on their young shoulders. Sushant Singh Rajput —looking oddly restrained —also carries on his shoulders, and his horse's back, pilgrims to Kedarnath. This is Sara Ali Khan's much-publicised onscreen debut. Of course one allows her the benefit of doubt, and so I'm unsure if it's the script/character, with little room to manoeuvre, but she does come across as a bit of a one-trick-pony in this pic. She seems a whole lot sassier, if you ask me, in her public appearances/interviews instead.
Be that as it may, is this the sort of romance dream-debuts are made of? Traditionally, yes. Khan's mother, Amrita Singh, for instance, similarly hit the screen with Betaab — rich girl, poor boy, young love — in the early '80s. Practically all top stars from the '90s have at some point owed their stardom to a similar super-hit. Maybe that's the intention here. Wonder if this stuff still works in the front benches; forget the few highfalutin film-buffs. Who knows? Wish them well; of course.