Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan
Disaster, deluge and the ‘dil’ - they change the course of everything, love stories and film scripts predominantly. Kedarnath has all of the aforementioned and more playing with the mood of the film and its fate.
The scenic but treacherous mountain paths are the first we see as Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) gets ready to taxi the pilgrims to the coveted temple of Kedarnath. Except, he isn’t going to put them in a vehicle, he will instead strap a chair around his head and port the pilgrim up the hill. He is a good-natured porter, who wears non-descript clothes that cannot hide his sinewy strength. He makes the 14 Kilometers journey multiple times in a day, with a smile on his face and no ego around people who might have reservations about him being a Muslim. His heart and hard-work and handsome face turns Mandakini’s head. Mandakini aka Mukku (Sara Ali Khan) is the daughter of a Hindu priest, but she isn’t a demure, dainty lass. She is carefree, outspoken and extremely independent when it comes to her ideologies in life.
She doesn’t believe in hiding her feelings for Mansoor and goes all out to win him. Reluctantly, Mansoor gives in to his ‘sweetheart’ – singing a (horrendous) song, that marks the moment of change in Mansoor and also the lovers’ fate. Before they can even start enjoying each other’s company they run into opposition from Mukku’s family. Not only does Mansoor get beaten up by Mukku’s fiancé (Nishant Dahiya), the porter community is threatened too… the gloom that falls on the lovers is reflected all over the mountains as the incessant rains turn threatening.
The calamity that strikes, takes us to 2013 floods that chills the bones thinking about how much was lost as mother nature took things in her hand as the bad infrastructure lets everyone down. While the pilgrims and the locals struggle around wrath of the nature, Mansoor and Mukku’s love-story gets soaked too.
Throughout the film your senses are dazed by the cinematographer (Tushar Kanti Ray) and Abhishek Kapoor who take you to through a visual overdrive, be it the scenic beauty of the place or the overwhelming visuals of the devastation. Later, however, when you walk out of the theatre you are not really replaying any of that, yes they were beautiful but they don’t stay with you as much as Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput do.
The two start off awkwardly, but leave an impact. Since we don’t expect anything lesser from Sushant Singh, his contribution doesn’t seem as impactful in comparison to the rookie he is paired with. Yes, Sara Ali Khan has come to the movies fully prepared to sweep you off your feet. Her expressions, her attitude make her look like she’s been at it forever. Though she is far better in the second half where the drama and calamity cross paths, even in the romance scenes, she does her part beautifully.
The actors and the cinematographer get an enthusiastic thumbs up from us, but Amit Trivedi’s music gets a thumbs down. Other than Namo Namo, there is hardly another song that stays with you, there is nothing in the music that reflects the geography of the film, or its characters. The songs can easily be plucked and put on another film, with the same insipid effect. Given the film has been pegged as a love story, music failing it is a big setback. Hitesh Sonik’s background score is more effective than the songs.
However Abhishek Kapoor, makes up for the music, by putting some sweet moments between the two actors, their chemistry is subtle and yet, potent and for that Kapoor gets full marks. It would have helped if the script was played on with more clarity and definition, because the lack of it becomes more prominent when pitched against the technical perfection of the film. Yet, those curious to see Sara Ali Khan would enjoy the experience, the others can wait till the film is streamed online.