Movie Review: ‘Kedarnath’

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Based on the floods in Uttarakhand, Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Kedarnath’ was easily a film which many would have been eagerly awaiting. Not only is this a disaster movie which Bollywood often does well (and often the opposite too), but the film would see the debut of Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh’s daughter Sara. She’s paired with the hugely talented Sushant Singh Rajput for the film which would have upped excitement that much more.

The story follows a porter, Mansoor (Singh Rajput), in the region of the beautiful Kedarnath. He is a Muslim “untouchable” who does his job towards the Shiv temple for many pilgrims. One day, his love for cricket lands him next to Mandakini ‘Mukku’ when an India-Pakistan cricket match is on. They both spot each other and keep doing so. Mukku then decides she wants to spend time with him and asks him to take her Rambhara every day on his donkey. They start developing feelings for one another but, as Mukku is the daughter of a Hindu pandit, the road will not be easy – not least because Mukku is already engaged to her sister’s ex.

It has to be said that after his last film ‘Fitoor’ (2016) failed to impress most, Kapoor has definitely done well with this offering. He’s collaborated with Singh Rajput for the first time after 2013’s ‘Kai Po Che’ and their comfort level seems to show on the screen in various ways. He’s also given Ali Khan a lovely role to start her career with, opposite an actor who is critically acclaimed. Kapoor has managed to weave a simple but effective love story narrative into a calamity and it creates the right impact on screen. His treatment of this story written by Kanika Dhillon is applause-worthy and no matter its flaws, ‘Kedarnath’ is a good watch.

The performances are great throughout the film, from the main actors and also the supporting cast. Singh Rajput and Ali Khan have fabulous chemistry together and, more to the point, it isn’t evident as such that the latter is making her debut because she’s such a natural. Singh Rajput as Mansoor performs so well that you immediately identify with his character. You believe in him, you want him to get what he wants and you can clearly see how good-hearted he is. On the opposite side, Ali Khan as Mukku is fiery, funny and a go-getter. It’s the perfect role for her to show the range of performance she can give in one film and it’s definitely set a solid standard for her career henceforth. TV actress Pooja Gor makes her debut in the film too, as Mukku’s sister. The ensemble cast is very well thought-out too and this adds to the overall narrative immensely.

The thing that slightly lets the film down, which could possibly be overlooked, is that when the floods finally hit the region, there are parts which aren’t quite believable. However, apart from this, the story remains engaging throughout, including in parts which you may feel that the audience’s attention might dip. The underlying story between Mukku, her sister and her fiance is also an interesting angle which brings in a believable dimenson.

The music from the film is also melodious and, importantly, doesn’t overshadow the film. The Sweetheart song, Nammo Nammo and Jaanisar are all great additions to the story but never overpower the actual film. They are all placed effectively and have the perfect impact.

In conclusion, it has to be said this is a great debut vehicle for Ali Khan and her being paired with Singh Rajput works well. Kapoor has directed a movie which gives the floods of 2013 in the region a fitting tribute. You can identify with this personalised, small town story with a 90s charm as to how people would have escaped, survived and how the well-known temple was overcome by the force of nature. As far as disaster films go, this one is one of Bollywood’s worthy depictions and it is perhaps a film one could watch again with ease.

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