Based on the 2013 North Indian state Uttarakhand’s devastating floods and landslides, which created the country’s most recent natural disaster, Kedarnath follows the love story of Mansoor Khan, (Sushant Singh Rajput), and Mukku, (Sara Ali Khan). Initially, the beauty of Abhishek Kapoor and Kanika Dhillon’s script dances through the simplicity of its local language, as we see the inter-faith love story untwine between the wild and wealthy daughter of the Hindu Priest, whose family owns a lodge and shops near the historic Kedarnath Temple in the Uttarakhand mountains and the honest and humble Muslim boy who is a poor ‘pithoo’ (porter), living with his Mother.
As the story unfolds, there is a tingling tease of the religious differences, highlighted through hums of humour, whilst balancing the seriousness and sensitivity of scenes. In typical Kapoor style, a slow story but plenty of mini stories to keep the audience engaged initially, however what starts to let the film down is the unnecessary focus on religion, painting one in a negative light more than the other, when there is no call for it, as it brought nothing to story, script or scenes. For example, using the business element of the storyline to bring in the race and religion card, rather than the expected love story or the “Purity” scene: not a true reflection of religion and this is when the story starts its downward slippery slop.
Aside of a fairly 80s/90s predicable story, there were some pleasantly welcomed unexpected moments, such as the first kiss. The moment beautifully displaying the chemistry between Ali Khan and Singh. A treat for true Bollywood fans, were those mirroring moments captured from classic hits, like the first time Singh Rajput sings to Ali Khan. If one was to close their eyes, they would be transported to the moment when Kajol and Amir Khan reconnected in Fanna, finishing with a messily camera-angled but natural kiss. A silent slap shared mirroring Atul Kulkarni’s “I’m sorry” scene in Rang De Basanti and Ali Khan just repeating ‘Mansoor’ during an Aarti mirroring Ram Leela scene when Deepika Padukone returns home. What was an audio and visual treat for the audience, was Tushar Kanti Ray’s crisp and creative cinematography of the film; the only aspect keeping the audience enticed.
The attention to detail, transition between scenes and visual effects were beyond spectacular, which were completed beautifully with Hitesh Sonik’s Background Score and Amit Trivedi aptly composed soundtracks, namely the hot, hit favourites, ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Namo Namo’ and ‘Qaafirana’.
What is the saving grace of Kedarnath, is the debutante performance of Sara Ali Khan! A natural fit for the screen, the audience is treated to a young, mini Amrita Singh, dressed vibrantly mirroring her strong feminist character, with a sharp tongue to match, underlining traces of the 70s Basanti! It was almost like watching Roma from Aaina back on the big screen! What is phenomenal is the chemistry between Ali Khan and Singh Rajput; just a great shame the characters personalities were not allowed to develop further nor remain consistent. However, Ali Khan has definitely made her mark in Bollywood and with a powerful performance that made big waves in the industry, she is definitely here to stay and we look forward to great things from her, in the future.
Written by Sheena Sedani