Synopsis – Two parallel love stories, and how believing with all your heart achieves love.
My Take – Gone are the days when Hindi cinema was dominated by films merely focused on showcasing a young man proclaim his love for a young women with sweeping analogies and would then take on the rest of the world to prove his emotions, just to settle down with her.
Don’t take me wrong, I am not complaining, in actuality I mean to say good riddance, especially considering how all these kind of romantic relationships portrayed on celluloid, particularly in this cyber age, began to feel melodramatic, cringy and stalker-ish almost a decade ago.
Yet, whether we accept it or not, most of us still continue to hold a soft spot for such kind of epics as they harken back to a simpler bygone era in which a charming actor romancing a pretty actress and singing soulful duets was enough to believe in the elemental power of love. Hell, Shah Rukh Khan made a career out of it!
Such seems like the case of this latest directorial from Kunal Deshmukh (Jannat, Tum Mile) which is all about crossing borders, both literally and metaphorically, for the one you love, no matter how unrealistic the turn of events translate. And like most love stories, this one too is backed by a premise that is far from the real world, but what makes the film immensely watchable is its peppy soundtrack, the likable cast, and the sincerity and passion with which director Deshmukh and his writers pull our nostalgia strings.
The story follows Joginder Dhillon aka Jaggi (Sunny Kaushal), a hockey player, who at a sports camp falls in love with Kartika (Radhika Madan), a competing swimmer. Though the duo find themselves in immediate friction, Kartika slowly gives in, without full committing, mainly because she is engaged to be married off in the next three months. But when she callously tells that if he manages to stop her wedding in London, she will end up with him, Jaggi takes it seriously enough to make a perilous journey from India to England via France.
Keeping in mind the emotional speech he heard from a groom, Gautam (Mohit Raina), for his bride, Ira (Diana Penty), in a wedding he had gatecrashed, Jaggi makes it’s his life’s mission to follow suit. As fate has it, when he is caught crossing illegally, he is placed in charge of the very same Gautam, who now separated from Ira, is an Indian embassy staffer determined to deport him back and does not believe in everlasting abiding love.
Studiously mounted, with splendid production values, here, director Kunal Deshmukh tugs at your heart twice over, once with Jaggi’s saga and then with that of Gautam. Despite its modern trappings, the film transports us to the 80s and 90s brand of cinema that’s played out in the modern setting. Yes, it is slightly problematic to see a very motivated young man, who is obsessed with a girl and won’t take no for an answer, something that was not only accepted earlier but also celebrated with song and dance. And the film comes dangerously close to that but thankfully, writers Shreedhar Raghavan, Dheeraj Rattan and Pooja Surti give ample agency to the girl, who is independent enough to take a stand for herself.
As a passionate love story, the film is driven purely from the perspective of its male protagonist Jaggi, whose manic obsession is given enough time to build. The entire first half is light and breezy with campus romance and flirting, but in the second half, Gautam and Sunny become the heart of the plot, who play off against each other with such energetic conviction, it becomes easy to forgive the narrative its quota of lapses.
Only if the film was written better. Though there aren’t many characters in the film, which is refreshing, the individual arcs should have been more sharply defined. Above them are the impractical situations that are really questionable. How do you justify the guy’s decision to swim through the English Channel between Paris and England to reach a girl?
And why do filmmakers see the need to glorify stalking to the extent where the girl has no option but to say yes. It’s true that in today’s world of realistic cinema, we often don’t get to see completely mad, raw and defiant love stories. This one is exactly that, but unlike those considered classics now, director Deshmukh‘s film doesn’t leave you deeply moved.
However, like I mentioned above the film is immensely watchable mainly due to its very likable cast. Stuck playing the stereotypical Punjab dude, Sunny Kaushal rises and shines with his charismatic smile and demeanor has a unique blend. It is a delight to see him on screen, and the film gives enough screen time to this fabulous actor to prove his mettle. Radhika Madan is spunky and blends well into her role to give a decent performance.
Mohit Raina is well cast and his aching performance beautifully translates on screen. As always, Diana Penty looks gorgeous, and despite her limited screen time dominates. On the whole, ‘Shiddat’ is an old school love story backed by a preposterous narrative and some very charming performances.
Directed – Kunal Deshmukh
Rated – NA
Run Time – 146 minutes