Synopsis – The film picks up where Sadak left off, revolving around the journey with a young girl who becomes an important character in the life of the protagonist, and the reason for him to stay alive.
My Take – Keeping aside the elements of the controversy surrounding his role in actor Sushant Singh Rajput‘s mysterious suicide, there is no denying of the fact that as filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt had given us some contemporary classics in the 80s and 90s, films still known for their bruising dramas and excellent soundtracks.
Among this slew, saw the release of Sadak (1991), a loose remake of Taxi Driver (1976), which despite not being among his best efforts went on to earn praise for the fresh pairing of Sanjay Dutt and Pooja Bhatt, Nadeem-Shravan‘s music, and of course the award-winning performance of the late Sadashiv Amrapurkar who played a transgender brothel-keeper to perfection. All leading up to turn the film into the highest-grossing release of Bhatt‘s directorial career.
A record which remained maintained until he took retirement from direction following the release of the moderately successful Kartoos (1999), an action thriller also starring Sanjay Dutt. Hence it seemed like an exciting news when Bhatt announced that he would be returning to the director’s chair after 21 years to helm a sequel to his biggest blockbuster while bringing back Sanjay Dutt in his role as the insomniac and fearless taxi driver Ravi.
But the bigger news came with the casting of his younger daughter Alia Bhatt, a supremely talented actress who has often lifted some of the most mediocre films just by her performances, in a new role, marking her first adult collaboration with her home production.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, the film will not only go down as the currently most disliked trailer on YouTube, but also as probably one of the worst Hindi film releases of 2020. Here, director Mahesh Bhatt gives his film a jaded look and the feel of the pulp cinema of 1980s and 1990s with a few lackluster twists thrown in an effort to modernize.
It also doesn’t help that the film is marred with average performances, forgettable songs, multiple references to suicide and faith without any depth, ordinary cinematography with some cheap-looking shots clearly done in a studio, and of course footage from the 1991 film and Pooja Bhatt’s voice to maintain the connective tissue of being a supposed sequel. Apart from Sanjay Dutt’s sincere performance, this film has nothing interesting to showcase and fails to leave any form of impression.
The story follows Ravi (Sanjay Dutt), a former taxi driver, who now runs a private transport service. But years after living happily Ravi is now once again depressed and suicidal as his wife, Pooja (Pooja Bhatt) has passed away leaving him with nothing to live for. However one of his many attempts at suicide is interrupted with the arrival of Aarya (Alia Bhatt), a 20 year old on the run from Guruji Gyaan Prakash (Makarand Deshpande), a powerful and influential godman, who she suspects along with her aunt/step mother Nandini (Priyanka Bose) killed her mother and have been influencing her industrialist father, Yogesh (Jisshu Sengupta), in everything.
And now all Aarya has to do is pick up Vishal (Aditya Roy Kapur), her fresh out of jail boyfriend, get to Mount Kailash, and wait till she turns a year older to officially take over her mother’s finance. While Ravi is hesitant at first to get involved, he agrees, considering that this was the last booking Pooja took in before her death, and is determined to protect the two irrespective of the dangers ahead.
What starts off as a film that aims at highlighting the undue advantage several spiritual gurus takes of their followers in the name of God, slowly becomes this bizarre redemption story of a suicidal man who warms up to a strange girl who wants to file petitions against fake gurus. In a matter of a few hours he becomes her sole custodian and she, being conned all her life by shrewd family members, finds it easy to trust him. And the overstretched and sluggishly paced 133-minute film does itself no favors by overselling Gyan Prakash’s villainy.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this sequel is the emotional aspect that is missing in the film. Despite its clichés, conservatism and loudness, Sadak‘s emotional aspects at least kept the film engaging. Here apart from Ravi’s bond with his dead wife, there is not a single relationship that sticks tight and generates good emotions. It’s surprising to see the primary actors’ submission to such a badly written script, and then they translated everything on to the screen with even worse body-language and movement. There is an arm less gangster called Dilip Hathkaata (Gulshan Grover) trying to wrestle five people, and Aditya Roy Kapur, is once again an addict.
Honestly I felt bad for Sanjay Dutt and Alia Bhatt, who probably wouldn’t have done this film if it was not by Mahesh Bhatt. Sanjay Dutt was the best thing about the predecessor and he is the best thing about its sequel too. He provides a continuity between the films and gives a full-throttle performance that compensates for the discernible lack of energy among his co-stars.
Understandably uninspired by the flat material she has to work with, Alia Bhatt is just plain here, especially considering the fact that we all know she is capable of brilliance. Though Aditya Roy Kapur gets a twist in his role, but once it is revealed he has literally nothing to do other than lip sync to randomly placed songs. In other roles, Pooja Bhatt despite receiving a credit in the cast only provides her voice, Jisshu Sengupta seems to be having fun with his character, Priyanka Bose overacts inexorably, Gulshan Grover shines in a few scenes and Markand Deshpande is neat but doesn’t get much to do. On the whole, ‘Sadak 2’ is a routine revenge thriller that masquerades as a laughable sequel.
Directed – Mahesh Bhatt
Rated – NR
Run Time – 133 minutes