Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan, Nitish Bharadwaj, Nishant Dahiya, Pooja Gor
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Rating: * * 1/2
Fashioned as an inter-faith love story, set in the backdrop of Uttarakhand deluge of 2013, this Abhishek Kapoor helmed film literally opens up the heavens to wash away the sins of communalism fed by majoritarian hegemonies. While the story may seem like an oft-repeated stereotype of celebrated romance legends, it is not merely that. Kapoor aims to stun you with his allegory on fate and the consequences of religious absolutism. And even though this creative torrent is heartfelt it’s not hard-hitting enough to hit you where it hurts most.
The writing fails to develop on the underlying themes that flit through the misshapen romance. The consequences of environmental degradation, communalism-fired victim migration, and overload on nature’s bounty are definitely some of the aspects that today’s audience can relate to. But a Hindu-Muslim romance between economic non-equals (a Muslim porter and a small-town Hindu pandit’s daughter) in a climate overpowered by aggressive communalism is certainly difficult to buy into even if you have been fed on the successes of Guide, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Raja Hindustani. With too many negatives stacked against their ‘ever after,’ it was but obvious to expect tragedy to come calling.
The feisty Mukku short for Mandakini (Sara Ali Khan modeling her craft on her mother Amrita Singh’s effort in Betaab) is daring enough to stir up interest in a diffident pithoo/human porter named Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput). It’s not a very happening romance at that, because all you see is her incessant pursuit of him and his almost reluctant efforts to be agreeable. Neither her father (Nitish Bharadwaj) nor her fiancé (Nishant Dahiya) is going to allow the ill-advised romance to go far. And then the heavens open up.
Co-written by Kapoor and Kanika Dhillon, the script doesn’t provide insight into the characters it wants to champion. Mansoor is entirely one dimensional and needs a kick (literally) to respond to Mukku’s overtures and Mukku’s inflexibility appears entirely childish. The development thereof feels terribly fractured and ungainly. The attempts to marry communalism and forced migration doesn’t play-on effortlessly even though the setting is perfect for such a confrontationist tale.
The camerawork has way too many wide-angle aerial shots of the mountain-scape and as a result, the intimacy of the drama is lost in the travelogue-mindedness of this rendition. Amit Trivedi’s music tends to overpower the narrative but the CGI, though patchy in places is impressive enough to make the deluge look credible. Nishant Dahiya as the aggrieved, vicious fiancé and Nitish Bharadwaj as the Mukku’s father is quite impressive.
Sushant’s Mansoor appears clueless though and Sara Ali Khan’s Mukku is the only one to lend momentum to the telling. The sequence construction of the climactic moments leaves a lot to be desired though. While Kapoor has made a noble effort to define religious intolerance, damning it with a karmic consequence – he fails to make it powerful enough to stir up the conscience of criminal minded religious fundamentalist. And that’s a real pity!