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Kedarnath Is A Everything That A Love Story Should be

Subhash K . Jha

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Kedarnath

Starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan

Direcred  by  Abhishek Kapoor

Rating: **** ½(four and a  half stars)

It’s  a pity that  revealing the end  of  a film in a review is  considered a spoiler.  To me, a spoiler is  that film which builds expectations and then dashes them to the ground.

That sinking feeling I got while watching  Thugs  Of  Hindostan and  2: 0  is  more than atoned for  by  Kedarnath , a film shot in the  heartland  of  pilgrims  where  a cataclysmic flood  devoured   the entire topography , leaving in its wake  a sense of irredeemable devastation.What  if  Nature’s  fury were to be unleashed when a  a pair of lovers are denied their  right to be together?

In  Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivum Sunderam when a heart  is  broken Nature weeps howls wails in protest.I  felt the same force  of Nature here when the priest’s daughter Mukku is dragged out of her lovelorn state   . As  the  girl hypnotized  by love , Sara Ali Khan transports her character into  a state  of  blissful  hypnosis.She  mumbles her  beloved’s name(it’s, ahem, Mansoor) while  her  mother(Sonali Sachdev)  tries  to shake  her out of her stupor.

But  Mukku would rather  take  a rain check…and I do mean rain, since  it is  the rains that  announce the  full ferocity  of Nature when Man crosses limits.

It is   clear to all that the  screenplay(Abhishek Kapoor, Kannika Dhillon) doesn’t intend to exploit the  2013  floods in Uttarkhand . Rather the  catastrophe is  woven organically  into the  plot. The  narrative  gifts its characters a  space where matters  of  the heart  coalesce  with  the politics  of religion. This  is  not an easy  mix  to plough out of the heart-land.

The  director is in no hurry.Until the mid-point we  see  only a  passion  erupt betweenMukku and Mansoor as they are thrown  together  in strange circumstances.Mukku’s single minded course of pursuing Mansoor would be  called stalking in the MeToo context. But this film exudes  such a scent of nostalgia it makes Mukku’s  overtures  look cute rather than criminal.

By the time the town  goes into  a mass protest  mode at the inter-religious love -match  it is time for  Nature to settle the score. Abhishek Kapoor films the water-inundated  climax with a stunning disposition. As  the  rainwater swells soars and destroys property and man we are made witness to an inexplicable  catastrophe.

There is  a curious subplot about this wheelerdealer (played effectively by Nishant Dahiya) who  infiltrates  a pundit Nitish Bhardwaj’s home, promises to marry the elder daughter(Pooja Gor, effectively spiteful  in her sisterly rage ) changes his mind and wants  to marry the younger daughter instead.

What a scamster this character is. The narrative sacrcely allows us to be judgemental. It has  much on its mind. Not all of it is realized.

The flood scenes are not  shot with the same finesse that we see  in  the  rest of the film. If the CGs  do not match the  authenticity  of  a Marvel movie it is okay by us. Kedarnath  doesn’t try to impress us with technique. It is all heart. The lead players are not  abashed  about wearing their hearts  on their sleeve.

Sara Ali Khan is  easily  the  discovery  of the year. She embraces  the camera with the  familiarity that her  mother actress Amrita Singh  flaunted in her heydays. Saira’s  character  is  as un-coy(to coin a word) about exhibiting her heart’s content as Amrita Singh  in Mardor Chameli  Ki Shaadi. Sara  is a natural  while Sushant Singh Rajput’s  character is  so naturally  noble it’s  tough  not to  like him. The actor gives his all to his role, and then some more, leaving no room  for  his Mansoor to be judged for his religious beliefs. ThankfullyMansoor  is  never shown doing Namaaz . He behaves  “normally” while the city’s Hindu radicals get all worked up into a state of whiplashing  lividity , much in the same way that they did in the director’s Kai Po Che.

There  are  some moments  of greatness peeking  out of the storytelling , like the sequence where Mansoor tells Mukku how his  father once wrote a fan letter to  the great LataMangeshkar telling her how the Valley resonated to her voice when she sang.Mansoor then sings Lag ja gale se for Mukku.

Time stand stil. Sushant brings a certain magic to this moment. At the end when Mukku sits to hear the radio , the same song is announced.

But the song never plays.  That unfinished moment of parting best defines the film’s theme of  unfinished  love. Have  you ever seen a great love story that doesn’t end in tragedy?

This one does too.

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