Dhadak, the Bollywood debut of Janhvi Kapoor, daughter of the late Bollywood star Sridevi, has been given a solid thumbs down by critics, with many pointing out its failure to live up to the original Marathi film Sairat — a gritty story about two lovers torn apart by a caste divide.
Reviewers have pointed out how Dhadak director Shashank Khaitan glossed over many of the original film’s cultural nuances, instead dressing it up in designer clothes, making it “a little too polished and slick,” according to the Times of India.
“By reducing the socio-political subtext of the tale to a mere footnote, Dhadak deprives itself of the chance of breaking out of its dreary shell and bringing into its sweep the social faultlines that lie at the core of a complex, fragmented society,” writes NDTV. “The result is a grind that pretty frames and fresh faces cannot mitigate.”
Dhadak pairs Kapoor with Ishaan Khatter, the brother of Bollywood star Shahid Kapoor, who’s also making his Bollywood debut. They play college mates Parthavi Singh (Kapoor) and Madhukar Bagla (Khatter) who fall in love and, after discovering their families’ resistance to their relationship, decide to elope. As they fend for themselves, the young couple’s relationship and love for each other is tested. How they weather these challenges forms the crux of the story.
“Despite being a commercial film in every sense of the term, Sairat was a discomfiting commentary on the caste system, a territory in which few mainstream films dare to venture,” says India Today. “Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak is none of the above. What you get, instead, is a blunted tale that leaves no impact.”
“Filmmaker Shashank Khaitan displays a commitment to societal resistance but shows no interest in the social iniquity on whose back this extravagance is built,” The Hindu writes.
Times of India also says the film failed to understand the nuances of the original: “While Parshya and Archi’s love story in Sairat was made with great honesty, realism and depth, giving us a perspective of the deep rooted prejudices in our society, Dhadak touches upon them too, but it merely skims the surface.”
Kapoor’s acting has also not received much love from critics, while Khatter, who starred in the acclaimed indie film Beyond the Clouds last year, has been called a natural.
“Janhvi lacks personality and delivers a colourless performance as Parthavi,” firstpost.com writes, while the Times of India was more encouraging: “She does come across a little too raw in comparison to her co-star, especially in dramatic scenes that demand a powerful performance. It’s her first film, so she’s still rough at the edges, but it’s a good start.”
Khattter “displays a wide range of emotions,” the Hindustan Times writes, while Kapoor “fails whenever it’s about enacting pain induced by personal experiences.”
Rediff.com sums it up: “As a remake of Sairat, Dhadak is a travesty,” it writes, “As a standalone, Dhadak is standard Bollywood boy-meets-girl drivel.”