The premise of setting a romance right before disaster strikes is rather exploitative and dreadful. But the young Sara Ali Khan is luminous and can deliver wicked dialogue with seasoned ease. She makes the practically cliched love story between a poor Muslim worker in love with a Hindu girl, a daughter of a priest, rather refreshing. Kanika Dhillon (she wrote Manmarziyan too) writes her as a rather rebellious daughter of a priest. Credit goes to the young girl who shows flashes of her beautiful mum's talent (Amrita Singh) and brings a little something of her own on screen. There's talent here, and it is enough to take your mind away from the horrendous cliches that make the movie.
The hero is a poor Muslim lad who ekes a living by ferrying people up to Kedarnath on his horse or carrying them on his back. He's so good, his mother (the ever so good Alka Amin) has to scold him about saving money rather than spending it all on the pilgrims.
The villain is a Hindu guy who is planning to build a hotel and resorts etc., engaged to be married to the heroine who doesn't want to be engaged to him...
The father of the heroine (Nitish Bharadwaj) is a priest and hotel owner, has dreams of being head priest at Kedarnath temple. He is stern and a patriarch, likes the Muslim hero as long as his daughter doesn't fall for the poor boy. He gets to mouth really pathetic Bollywood cliches like, 'Tumhari himmat kaise huyi mere ghar ki taraf aankh uthane ki!' (How dare you even look at my home, aka, fall for my daughter!)
There is a mother and a sister too, and the mother is shown to be pious and quiet. But the sibling rivalry is great. Alas, the audience has seen the film Patakha and when the sisters slap each other, that's what some wise guys yelled, taking away from the cliche any gravitas.
The cinematography is rather wonderful, but then the setting in the Himalayas cannot but be spectacular. In fact, it will make you want to visit the temple town. And as temple towns need, there is a very catchy quasi religious song that makes your heart well up. The camera catches the temple town in all its glorious colors.
There is a Hindu Muslim tension that could have made the film awful, but the director manages to keep it in control. When Mansoor Khan, the hero, stands up in the community gathering and makes the point with the dialogue, 'We belong here,' I found myself grateful that cinema is speaking on behalf of the Muslims and all liberal folk.
The disaster strikes and there is a cloudburst, but we don't do special effects too well. At first you think you are going to see something terrible, but it isn't too bad. But you know it's fake, so you know everyone is acting. In fact, if the curtains in your kitchen catch fire, you will scream, but here the mom and sister don't even know it's happening... Obviously post production addition, or they would have screamed even more. The final disaster scene goes on and on and you wish someone - the hero or the heroine - would drown and end it all for us...
The romance is fun, and Sara Ali Khan actually carries the film with her energy. Sushant Singh Rajput acts embarrassed quite well. But watch it for her.
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