Adaptations have always been a tricky business. In the case of Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak, an adaptation of Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi sleeper hit Sairat, it becomes more complicated. Khaitan, whose claims to fame include Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya, seems to be working on a similar template—forbidden love, support from friends and the usual Bollywood trope. The beginning and end of the film closely shadow Sairat, but Khaitan misses the carefully orchestrated, haunting beats, on the toes of which Sairat beautifully swirled before launching into the final crescendo.
Sairat’s strong leads Archie (Rinku Rajguru) and Parshya (Akash Thosar) have become Parthvi Singh (Janhvi Kapoor) and Madhukar Bagla (Ishaan Khatter) in Dhadak. Sadly, Kapoor and Khatter fail to reanimate the headstrong Archie, replete with her upper caste, privileged upbringing, and the innocence, fear and complexes of Parshya.
When Sairat became Dhadak, the complex nuances were stripped. At best, it is a superficial emulation of the Marathi crowdpuller. For instance, you start to wonder whether Khaitan even understood the role of Parshya's friends in Manjule's larger picture. Did he just consider them sidekicks, like in his Dulhaniya films—characters to drive the story forward and aid in a few moments of comic relief?
Pradeep (Tanaji Galgunde), referred to as Langdya for most part of the film, is disabled with a limp; Salim is a Muslim, an oft-sidelined community. Parshya, by caste, is an untouchable. The three of them, facing their own conflicts, are bonded in a society that looks down on them.
In Sairat, Parshya is the son of a fisherman. In Dhadak, set in Udaipur, a tourist city, Madhukar is the son of a restaurant operator. In the entire film, the only reference to caste comes from his father. In one scene, he warns Madhukar to stay away from the girl because she is from uchi jaati (high caste). Unlike the rich landowner of Sairat who decided the fate of many tillers of the village, the female protagonist’s father (Ashutosh Rana) in Dhadak is a Rajput proprietor, who has turned his mansion into a hotel, and nurses political ambitions. Everything revolves around the impending elections.
The protagonists in both the films are teenagers consumed by infatuation, living a dream, until the reality of life dawns on them. They elope to a different city, a different culture. The difference, however, is that Manjule's characters remained rooted to their respective realities, prepared to rebel in the face of catastrophe, backed by actors who lived and breathed their characters.
Ajay-Atul Gogavale’s music, especially Zingaat, was one of the high points of Sairat. With support from the composers, and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya, Dhadak tried to create the same effect. The rawness of an un-choreographed original, however, is missing in the recent version that has been choreographed by Farah Khan. The loud background music that follows the song, trying to infuse an element of drama, is even more glaring and hugely distracting.
Dhadak’s protagonists are Bollywoodised—pretty and dumbed down, like most Dharma Productions films. The actors are shot in the lovely backdrop of Udaipur, with focus on beautiful frames completely devoid of emotional stirrings. Khaitan, like Manjule, crafts a shocking climax, but it doesn’t live up to Sairat, not by a long shot.
Actors: Ishaan Khatter, Janhvi Kapoor
Director: Shashank Khaitan