Release: 07 December 2018
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan
Writer :Abhishek Kapoor- Kanika Dhillon
For pilgrims who come to Uttarakhand to visit the Kedarnath Temple and cannot climb the mountain there are pithus to carry them on donkeys and when the donkeys tire, the pithus strap the pilgrims on their backs and reach them to the temple.
Mansoor Ali/ Sushant Singh Rajput, has grown up in the mountains and carries pilgrims for a living but more for the joy he brings to their faces.
Mandakini/Sara Ali Khan is the Pandit’s daughter. Her family runs an in-house lodge and Mandakini and her sister assist their parents in the hospitality of the pilgrims.
Inspired from the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand writer Kanika Dhilllon and director Abhishek Kapoor weave a story of inter faith romance, of devotion and devastation.
The merits of the film are the beauteous locations, for two and half hours you are surrounded by the misty mountains and deported in a wondrous, fragrant land.
The film is clearly more than a love story, Kapoor addresses caste/class/ religion but also gender/ family and most important, saving of the planet!
There is an old belief that if you mess with nature then nature is going to mess with you and Kedarnath showcases nature’s fury!!
Kapoor layers his characters in complexities and adds undercurrents in all relationships so there is angst between the girls and the parents, conflict between the siblings and reservations from orthodox pilgrims towards their guides.
The demerits are the liberties we take in the excuse of commercial cinema so Sara Ali Khan is the only one in Uttarakhand who dons designer clothes and has a new outfit for a friend’s wedding and another opulent ghaghara for her own wedding.
The writing is not always coherent. There is no convincing reason why Mandakini is attracted to Mansoor Ali, no reason why she treks the mountain every day strapped on his back? Is she shopping grocery or plain dating and how come nobody in the region reacts to them even after the duo sing and dance at a friend’s wedding? Why does the village wait for the rainy night to talk about family honour?
Some dialogues are unclear, the climax elaborating on the floods and the rescue operation unnecessarily prolonged and the end scene ambiguous.
Nitish Bharadwaj and Gautami as Mandakini’s parents are well cast. Sushant Singh Rajput as Mansoor carrying pilgrims on his back in the biting cold to the top of the mountain is underplayed and effective.
Sara Ali Khan is the spice of Kedarnath; she has the poise of father/ Saif Ali and the spontaneity of mother/ Amrita Singh. Here is a complete natural, and what a relief to have a newcomer well versed with language and diction.
Watch Kedarnath for the beauteous Uttarakhand and for the courage and physical hardships endured while shooting this film.
I rate Kedarnath with 2.5 stars.