Dhadak is not a film but a launch. It's not even an impressive ode to a regional movie or an attempt to help a good story reach the masses. It's a smart business move that rides the wave of the much-acclaimed Sairat, in order to present two star kids.
So what if the film conveniently forgets the basic plot line of caste politics of Sairat? We instead have 'politics' in Dhadak that's made to look sinister with the over-expressive eyes of Ashutosh Rana as if compensating for the film's lead pair. Somehow everything is justified in Hindi films as long as we have some kind of elections in view because nothing is more crucial than Pitaji ki izzat in these elections. Dhadak hence becomes an ameer ladki gareeb ladka love story, something that Bollywood has never ever produced before. Ahem!!
The film starts with ladka ladki falling in love. We have no clue why. Because attraction, let's assume; ladka is charming, gareebo ka Hrithik Roshan types and ladki has just walked out of her Instagram account.
What genuinely works for the film, as in the original, is the way the girl's character is written. Rarely in Hindi films, do we see girls taking charge and calling the shots. Here Parthavi (Jhanvi Kapoor) rides her brother's bike, challenges her boyfriend and even elopes with him in a heated moment. Though Janhvi's limited acting abilities take away the impact of Archy (in the original, played by Rinku Rajguru), she manages to convey a lot in a few scenes. For instance, when Madhu (Ishaan Khatter), shaken from Parthavi's father's brutality, cosies up in her arms as she gives him a protective hug, she seems unsure about their role as a couple and the future of this relationship that started more on a impulse or an accident than committed love.
Largely, the film remains superficial, be it the first half of silly wooing or the second half when reality hits hard. There are no gut wrenching slums of Sairat but Bollywood's idea of a dirty hostel room that looks more like an Airbnb accommodation with two as its average rating. Such sanitised setting hardly makes you feel the protagonists' discomfort. Their insecurities, homesickness and struggle are lazily written and are so peripheral that it hardly touches any chord.
The lead pair struggles with their accents as if someone put a convenient Instagram filter on their dialect to make it slightly more effective!
Ishaan shows promise. He occasionally hams but even in that space, he shows earnestness. He is charming and cries pretty convincingly. Janhvi struggles in her dialogue delivery but manages to impress in a couple of scenes, especially where she doesn't have many lines. She seems too restrained in her portrayal of Parthavi, a character who is everything but restrained.
I guess that's pretty much the problem of our industry. We put so much pressure on our ladies to look a certain way that we reduce them to a pink pout and blowdried hair in a Manish Malhotra outfit and Mickey Contractor makeup. While the boys revel in sheer abandon, girls, caught in our limited idea of beauty, are constantly busy double guessing how they look than how they emote.
Dhadak is literally a Karan Johar film, trying too hard to be a Vishal Bhardwaj movie where they went to a small town in India, with suitcases that were so fully packed with designer clothes that they couldn't make any room for a script.