Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Dhanak – Enchanting road trip to Bountiful


Cast: Swastik Ram Chavan, Krrish Chhabria, Vibha Chhibber

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

Rating: * * * ½

Runtime: 103 minutes

A simple magical fable, ‘Dhanak’ meaning rainbow, set amongst the picturesque sand dunes of Rajasthan has at it’s heart , two little orphan protagonists (inspired by Hansel and Gretel, I am guessing). 10 year old Pari (Hetal Gada) is the devoted older sister to 8 year old Chotu (Krrish Chabbria) who was blinded when he was about four years old . Having lost their parents at a very young age, they live with their uncle (Vipin Sharma) and wicked  aunt (Gulfam Khan) in a remote village.

Both children are positive about their handicaps. Pari is Chotu’s eys- his guide to the world around them while Chotu though blind, is smart, precocious and talented. Pari has promised Chotu that she will help him regain his sight but with no help coming from their jobless though loving uncle , it’s up to her to find another means to that set goal. As she, Chotu and their uncle exit from a film theatre, her eyes chance upon a poster for eye donation featuring Pari’s favorite actor Shah Rukh Khan and hope springs eternal in her heart. This despite the self confessed Salman Khan bhakt, her adorable brother, casting aspersions at her blind belief in the impossible. Nevertheless, one fine day, the two set out on a road trip to Jaisalmer, where Shah Rukh Khan is purportedly shooting and for most part the film deals with the many adventures and entanglements they get into while on the journey.

The children may be at risk, all alone on the long and lonely stretch to their avowed destination but their upbeat attitude, blinding innocence and enormous heart protects them from all evil.

Nagesh Kukunoor appears to have got back his distinctive touch with this new assay into childhood. The relationship between brother and sister is heartening. Their guilelessness is the magnet that draws in others to help their cause. The village life, devoid of communication gadgets and untouched by development is beautifully depicted here. The children are the masters of their own destinies here. The adults only help them along the way. The film is not intent on showcasing villains or putting the children through harrowing negative experiences. The one time they are at risk, they have a fortunate escape without much incident. And in the end they triumph with their unstinting irrevocable belief in the beautiful world they inhabit. A kindly grandmother tells them that magic exists and they need to stretch out and grab it. The magic here is in the telling. Kukunoor’s use of inveigling pace, earthy music, magnificent vistas and convincing conversations creates a realm that feels almost magical. And the two children do the rest. Their performances are so affecting that it will make it doubly hard for you to emerge from the theatre without tears of joy in your eyes. Such is the power of this sibling love story!