Shaadisthan Movie Review: Actor Raj Singh Chaudhary of Gulaal fame makes his feature-film directorial debut with Shaadisthan, a road trip movie that sees a clash of old-age ideologies and new-age thoughts. A family of three, consisting of a father Sanjay (Rajan Modi), a mother Kamla (Nivedita Bhattacharya) and their forlorn teenage daughter Arshi (Medha Shankar), wants to go to Ajmer to attend the wedding of a relative. However, they miss their flight and are forced to tag along with a band, who is coaxed into performing at the wedding. Shaadisthan: Kirti Kulhari Reveals Why She Could Instantly Relate to Her Character in the Upcoming Road Trip Film.
The family, travelling in the band's colourful van, comes across as an odd sort to the Bohemian ways of the group members, who smoke, drink and abuse as freely as much as they want. Because as per Bollywood, characters doing so are kinda free spirits (someone, please show them Dulquer Salmaan's Charlie). The father, especially, is irked by their behaviour but can't do much about it. The mother and the daughter, meanwhile, are mesmerised with the band's lead female singer Sasha (Kirti Kulhari). Sasha's free-spirited ways intrigue them, and even pushes them to question their own societal conformities, especially after the band realises that the family's Ajmer trip also has another purpose.
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Through his debut directorial, Raj Singh Chaudhary wants to impress upon you how women in our society are still made to adhere to the paths that men want them to walk on. At first I expected that Shaadisthan would have been about the going-tobe-18 Arshi developing her wings, through Sasha's tutelage on the way. While the movie does let it happen, it more of relies on how Sasha gets through her mother and tries to dissect at how she is satisfied (if she is, that is) with her marital life and how her every decision has to pass through her husband. Kahaani ghar ghar ki na! Though the way her bandmates behave around the family, what's happening with the family seems like alien to them.
I liked the scenes between Sasha and Nirmala, but it has less to do with what they are trying to say, and more to do with the performances of both Kirti and Nivedita. I understand from Sasha's POV that she finds the family emotionally strangulating their daughter and being frustrated at her, but her straightaway attacking the mother's situation relentlessly comes more across annoying for her as a character. Thankfully for her, Kamla becomes more of a pacifist at her questions, not daring to once even ask why she is being so meddlesome. Considering that - I believe - she also had a hand in supporting her husband's decision over their daughter, this was an abrupt about-turn for her character, that she suddenly accepts the views of a woman she just met a few hours back and was initially revolted by their ways. Shaadisthan: Kirti Kulhari Is 'Cool as a Cucumber and Hot as Fire' in Her Next Film, Trailer To Unveil Tomorrow.
This volte-face also goes for the conclusion of the film, where two more characters change their attitudes all of a sudden, by then the film has become beyond relatable. Also, what's the about whole dargah sequence where the band members turn so emotional? For a film that has a questioning look for female characters draping a pallu over the head, suddenly Sasha is seeing doing so at this scene. Why was this even needed?
We also have Kay Kay Menon make a cameo as a former royal-turned-hotelier. it's a charming performance from the actor (also real-life husband to Nivedita Bhattacharya), but the problem comes from the scene he is featured in. Although he does it in good spirits, the character serves what is hallucigen-laced tea to the mother and daughter! Sorry, but what kind of 'freedom' are we talking here, where two women are served beverages that they didn't know contained drug-like substance?
Raj Singh Chaudhary's intentions at targetting inherent misogyny in the society is laudable, but his writing and direction leave the film with a lot of rough edges. Which is why the impact really goes missing when Nirmala tells her husband, "Bhaad mein jaaye society!" ("to hell with this society!") What could have been a really massy moment for this character is turned into a mere ho-hum scene, and it is only what preceded before that's to be blamed.
PS: How is abusing by using sexist swear words any kind of cool that you are aiming for?
- Kirti and Nivedita
- Writing Lacks Impact
Shaadisthan comes across as a one-sided and lacklustre conversation on what the film sees as free-spiritedness vs misogyny garbed as traditionalism. The movie is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 11, 2021 08:09 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).