Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan, Nitish Bharadwaj, Nishant Dahiya, Pooja Gor and others.
Kedarnath is an inter-faith love story, set in the backdrop of Uttarakhand deluge of 2013. In the opening credits of the film, director Abhishek Kapoor pays respect to the countless victims that were lost in the devastating Uttarakhand tragedy. Further he makes artistic choices and liberties to highlight the humane aspect of the story. Kedarnath is primarily a love story where Kapoor demotes the disaster angle from the backdrop to the backburner. Disaster films have an odd reputation, often merely dismissed as popcorn fodder, so it's a little odd to have a film billed as such but to put character and drama over spectacle.
The film revolves around two individuals living in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath - Mandakini aka ‘Mukku’ (Sara Ali Khan) and Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) - who are poles apart in all respects. While Mukku is a rebel and always on fire, Mansoor is soft-hearted and humble. Mukku belongs to a wealthy Brahmin family, and Mansoor is a poor Muslim. The two soon meet and fall in love with each other. Their respective families, of course, disapprove their alliance. The central character in the sub-plot is Kullu (Nishant Dahiya), who is an influential man, and is also Mukku’s fiancé. The wrath of nature hits Kedarnath. Will Mukku and Mansoor survive their fate?
Abhishek Kapoor, whose last film was romantic drama ‘Fitoor’, dilutes on the deluge but concentrates predominantly on love angle. Despite the rich-poor stereotype, he makes efforts to have its heart in the right place. His story - co-written with Kanika Dhillon - falls short to evoke the right emotions. Kapoor tells the audience that the events are true, sure they are, but what may bother viewers is how much the eons old Hindu-Muslim love story is inflated in the film. The sequences of the downpour and the deluge seem credible enough, lacing danger with fear but the tragic notes the director strikes are predictable and downright filmy. The flood sequences neither consume much of the run-time nor contribute much in the possible impact of film at the end. There are some bits that feel manipulative thanks to the overarching score.
The occurrences like submerged idols/temples, water-logged paths, drowned homes, power outage, crashing trees, feeble animals and helpless people draw inspiration from true-life, but they are employed like mere gimmicks to bring in some VFX-enthused thrills. Thankfully, the special effects, while not world-class, do an adequate job of recreating an imagery of deluge.
The main focus of the film is largely on the romance between the lead pair and really the chemistry between the couple is palpably cozy. Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan create a chemistry that is brimming over with warmth and remains quite beautiful till the very end. Kedarnath's true strength lies in the combined appeal and compelling performances of the two.
The performances from the central cast are great, especially newbie Sara, who carries the film for a hefty chunk of the running time with a gravitas that many older actors would fail to achieve. Khan falls into the role of 19-year-old 'Mukku' with perfect precision and accuracy. The brave and committed performance by the debutante is miracle of the film. Sushant plays Mansoor with utmost sincerity and he especially shines in the monologue right before the interval. However, he isn't given the most of character development to chew through, but it's still an admirable work. Nishant Dahiya, Pooja Gor (as Sara's elder sister), Nitish Bharadwaj and Alka Amin provide able support to the film.
In the conclusion, Kedarnath does have some genuinely likable moments but when the monotony of the drama gets exposed, the film's pace breaks down and the entertainment level drops. The film somewhat manages to regain its speed in the climax. But till then, you find it is already late.
Watch 'Kedarnath' trailer here:...