When it comes to natural disaster dramas, Bollywood really has nothing much worth writing home about. Attribute it to the fact that we see cinema as an escape from reality rather than something that rivets. But we sure were partial towards Titanic and from the trailer, Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan-starrer Kedarnath seemed to have all the makings of a passionate love story between star-crossed lovers. But does it manage to reach that scale of becoming a timeless romance or does it fall short? Let’s find out…
What’s it about
Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) is a happy-go-lucky chap. Carrying pilgrims up and down the treacherous paths to help them secure a darshan at the temple is what brings him joy, much to the annoyance of his mother, who is embittered after the same philanthropy and charm got her husband killed in a mishap, several years ago. She keeps pestering him to make a living but Mansoor is happy with the charitable work he is doing. And it is not just his mother who is miffed. The temple manager, Kullu is equally unhappy with Mansoor’s ways as he, despite being a Muslim, enters the temple premises. Cut to Mandakini aka Mukku, a feisty, loudmouth who sticks out like a sore thumb in the otherwise serene valleys of Kedarnath. The cause of her rebellion is revealed later when we find out her father approved of her sister’s fiance’s request to marry Mukku instead of her. Clearly, her family, including the now jilted sister, is done with her antics. But Mukku is far from reformed.
She loves cricket and meets Mansoor while watching what has been deemed to be a riveting match on TV. And when an Indian batsman hits a sixer on the last ball, Mukku loses her heart to Mansoor. Several carriage and mule rides later, the two share a chaste kiss in a cave in front of a cracking bonfire, to the lingering lyrics of Lag ja gale. But not all is hunky dory for long. Soon the fiance finds out about their alliance and beats Mansoor black-and-blue while her embarrassed family fast-tracks her wedding to the next day. But then disaster strikes. Will Mukku and Mansoor be able to navigate their way through the devastating flood or will that be the end of their love story? Well, the film releases tomorrow to answer just that.
The location, Kedarnath, lends to the film beautifully. It provides the perfect backdrop first for Mansoor and Mukku’s love story and then for the disaster drama that makes the film. As the sun shines down upon the lovers, you are almost hopeful for their budding romance, despite the obvious issues that you know will crop up. But when it starts to rain incessantly, you can almost predict the disaster in the making. Sushant Singh Rajput is adorable as Mansoor. It is endearing to see the exuberant lad turn all coy and blush, when the outgoing Mukku declares her love for him in the most audacious of ways. You can see his comfort when he plays these guy-next-door characters. On the other hand, Sara is completely in-your-face and unabashed as Mukku. Despite it being her debut performance, she seems absolutely confident in front of the camera. Her character requires her to be spunky and loud but she essays it with an honesty that makes Mukku relatable. The VFX in the flood scenes is worth a mention here too. Water gushing through the valley with an almost demonic force is a chilling sight. And it stuns the audience into silence. Almost everyone holds their breath to find out if the two survive or not. Commendable! The songs also lend beautifully to the film, adding the right touch of love and longing with a tinge of devotion. Abhishek Kapoor is great with the build up of natural disaster dramas. He had mastered the art of imparting his Doris with an impending sense of doom, where everything leads to the finale.
Mukku and Mansoor’s love story could have been more layered. Just when you start getting invested in them and are about to ship them as a couple, disaster strikes, leaving much to be desired. Additionally every good story requires strong and well-fleshed supporting characters, which Kedarnath clearly lacks. Everyone – right from Mukku’s sister, fiance, father to Mansoor’s mother – has been reduced to props and that is really the wide that can happen to them.
Kedarnath is a visual spectacle but could have been a better love story. However, Sara couldn’t have asked for a better launch pad or a better co-star. Sushant’s shy demeanor complements her over-the-top antics perfectly. Watch it especially for the climax scene to which the whole film leads.Rating: out of 5
Reviewed by Ankita Chaurasia
**** Very good