Kedarnath

wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?)

quick review:

An attempt at telling a done-to-death love story in a new way, with a different backdrop. Succeeds for a bit and then takes a turn that makes it visually engaging but emotionally not as much.

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Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Running time: 120 minutes
Genres: Romance, Social
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The biggest grouse against Kedarnath would be that we are being fed the same ol’ story. Boy meets girl...families and society disapprove...ya-di-ya-da-yawn. Kedarnath does two things differently though – the nuances in the treatment of this boring story in the first half and the execution of the visual effects in the second half. And that last sentence might be the other big problem–the two halves are completely different stories with different aims and objectives. One half a love story; the other half tragedy caused by humans and nature.

The visuals in the second half are aptly heart-breaking.

At the outset though Kedarnath takes up a few things rarely taken up by Hindi films without glamourising them. We do have protagonists play coolies or do laborious jobs but the jobs are either aggrandised by the actor playing the role or the role is written in a larger-than-life way or the rest of the story has nothing to do with the job, it is just there–ironically–for cosmetic purposes. Here the job of being a pitthu–a person who carries pilgrims to a temple, usually long distances away–is quite germane to the protagonist’s existence. For what it’s worth, it is built into the love story too. Also, conditioned as you are as you expect this hero to save the day, he doesn’t turn into super-hero. He does what he does while being consistent with his character and within the scale of the film. This is one of the few wins in the film’s writing.

Kedarnath’s writing goes on to avoid a few more predictable things. It touches upon the irony of the government-business powerplay that focuses on better comfort for the tourists while completely ignoring the local labour and the very nature that earns the businessmen their bread. Let alone the animals, the people who toil day and night, and who face the vagaries of nature all their lives are sidelined in real life–the film doesn’t dwell on these aspects too much but banks upon them to support the frail love story.

The love story itself, while as mundane as can be is livened up by some flashes of nuance. You do empathise with Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) who lives in the middle of hatred all the time. Mukku’s (Sara Ali Khan) constant angst on the other hand, is understated but always simmering. It is a pity then, that Mukku behaves rather uncharacteristically in the second half.

The relationship has a freshness about it. The two bond over cricket and the smaller things in life. Their love doesn’t suddenly blossom over a montage sequence. Sure, it is still episodic, but there is conversation and warmth that makes you believe in their fondness for each other. It is a shame then that a couple of the intimate moments seem manufactured.

Of course, these things could have fallen flat if the actors hadn’t played these characters with subtle charm. Rajput plays shy just right and his ‘good boy plus nice person’ act is made believable. In fact, you want to dance with him, with his energy when he is happy. Sara Ali Khan also does well in her debut. Her chirpy and bold character is written with restraint and she doesn’t go overboard to impress. I must admit though that the story-line did feel like she would burst into a song from Mard to pay a tribute to her mom, Amrita Singh. It doesn’t help that she looks so much like her. It also made me wonder if the makeup was intentionally weird, especially the lipstick.

Anyway, these could have been completely ignored if the rest of the film followed through on all that was good so far. For starters, the supporting actors are all merely functional. While I am grateful that they don’t go overboard with their performances, they don’t stay with you either. I would blame the writing here. Some of the dialogue written for the supporting actors is distracting because it doesn’t sound real and consistent with the rest of the film. Dialogue between friends or between a mother and a son, for instance, is written in a way that makes you feel that they are completely unaware of each others’ situations and/or emotions.

Boy meets girl...families and society disapprove...ya-di-ya-da-yawn. And yet holds your attention because of some details.

I am not sure if it is a good thing or bad that the second half wakes you up from the ennui because it is completely different. The visuals in the second half are aptly heart-breaking. The wrath of an overflowing river that brings with it avalanches and unimaginable destruction is executed well enough to hold you to your seat. The political dynamics, the love story are all set aside and made meaningless. Maybe, that is indeed what the film wants to tell us. That it is all futile when nature does its thing. But, may be that is the audience adding its bit. The trailer indicates that it is more about nature taking revenge on behalf of wronged lovers.

Until then though, the beauty of the Himalayas is captured on mark. It was indeed nice to see this backdrop. I was in Kedarnath in 2016 and in the same region just before the 2013 floods and seeing those regions did strike a personal chord. I guess it is a shame then that despite this ready-made interest, and a reasonable number of things being done well, the film wasn’t able to pull and keep things together.

- meeta, a part of the audience

32 reviewers(?) - 2 yays 22 so-so 8 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Anna MM Vertticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...This is the natural order of things, the way the world was meant to be: men and women falling in love without social interference, humankind co-existing with the rest of the planet without interfering with the environment in the name of development and human welfare, so that no one gets to ask, “where did you land up in our midst?” because you see, we were all “always here”. Point well made, Abhishek Kapoor.... full review

Thumbs up, by IANS, Subhash K Jha, ZEENEWS.COM : ...But the song never plays. That unfinished moment of parting best defines the film's theme of unfinished love. Have you ever seen a great love story that doesn't end in tragedy? This one does too.... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...On the whole, KEDARNATH has nothing new to offer except some well-conceived visuals and an above average debut of a star-daughter that can easily be skipped in the costly multiplexes - to be later watched on the online portals soon for a fees already paid.... full review

So-So, by Ankita Chaurasia, Bollywood Life : ...Kedarnath is a visual spectacle but could have been a better love story. However, Sara couldn't have asked for a better launch pad or a better co-star. Sushant's shy demeanor complements her over-the-top antics perfectly. Watch it for the chilling climax scene to which the whole film leads and also for Sara's spunk that is a clear indication that she is here to stay!... full review

So-So, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...Despite these small problems, the film’s strength lies in the character who create its world. All of them are nicely written and assigned to very good actors. Nitish Bharadwaj is especially good, but Nishant Dahiya, whose dialogue delivery is controlled but powerful, is excellent. He exudes from his slender frame that aggressive Hindutva which always carries the threat violence.... full review

So-So, by Mayur Sanap, Deccan Chronicle : ...In the conclusion, Kedarnath does have some genuinely likable moments but when the monotony of the drama gets exposed, the film's pace breaks down and the entertainment level drops. The film somewhat manages to regain its speed in the climax. But till then, you find it is already late.... full review

So-So, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Verdict: Watch Kedarnath for the spunky and spirited Sara Ali Khan. A star is born.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Summing up, Kedarnath dazzles you with its scenic imagery and it's fresh pairing. But it's also a case of missed chances. Too less a time is spent on the large scale tragedy that engulfed the region. The human consequences of it, the emotional scars it left behind aren't touched upon at all. The film's natural ending, that of the rescue helicopter flying away, is changed into an artificial feel-good scene which does away with the impact of the powerful climax.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Flimi Beat : ...Cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray perfectly captures the scenic locations of Kedarnath on the canvas and some of his aerial shots are breathtakingly beautiful. The editing of the film works fine. Amit Trivedi fails to dish out a memorable album this time. However, we must mention the song, 'Namo Namo' is pleasant to the ears. Read more at: https://www.filmibeat.com/bollywood/reviews/2018/kedarnath-movie-review-and-rating-sushant-singh-rajput-sara-ali-khan-280213.html... full review

So-So, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...There’s no tsunami of feelings for the on-screen couple here because they aren’t emotionally potent. However, everything in this film is blessedly brisk — be it falling in love or a flood that swallows half the town. ‘Kedarnath’ is perfectly stormy and is good for a one-time watch.... full review

So-So, by Ananya Bhattacharyal, india today : ...The writers, Kapoor and Dhillon, use a George Eliotesque punishment in Kedarnath. A regression has happened. A Hindu girl and a Muslim boy have fallen in love. The land has to be purged. So the filmmakers, aware of the present-day climate of the country, use a convenient climax in Kedarnath. It is this that keeps Kedarnath from becoming something different. The music, the cinematography, the setting; Kedarnath ends up squandering everything that is good in it. Watch the film for Sara Ali Khan. The girl will surprise us.... full review

So-So, by Anita Iyer, khaleejtimes : ...Kedarnath fails short of stirring up emotions the way it intends. It ends up being an empty, unmoving watch.... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Kedarnath is watchable just for Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan and its cinematography. There’s nothing you’ll take back with you once the lights turn on. This plot required a special treatment to establish the connection & the makers fail at the base level itself. Skip it!... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, Live Mint : ...Khan shines in these later scenes, shedding the earlier self-consciousness to throw it all into the physically challenging finale. Rajput is natural as the compassionate Mansoor, though at times he seems to be searching for the soul of his character, which could have been another casualty of a confused script.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...For debutante Khan, this was more of a career-defining momen Read more at: https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/entertainment/movie-review/kedarnath-movie-review-sara-ali-khan-shines-sushant-singh-rajput-struggles-in-this-abhishek-kapoor-film/articleshow/66973038.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst... full review

So-So, by Rohit Vats, News18.com : ...Kedarnath totally banks on its leads and they deliver. Sushant brings calm and Sara a breezy freshness to it. They give the film what its average VFX fails to—a purpose. Kedarnath is watchable and strikes a chord when needed.... full review

So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...A Hindu-Muslim romance set in the temple town of Kedarnath, at the time of the deadly cloudburst that wiped out thousands of people. The film launches Sara Ali Khan and she has infinite possibilities although the film doesn't.... full review

So-So, Outlook India : ...Overall the shift of tones while blending a fictional, interfaith romance with a historical natural disaster, the film suffers to some degree from the maker's of romance and idealistic and there by leaves you unsatisfied.... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, Kedarnath delays its disaster theme up until the third act to build on its Hindu-Muslim romance against a majestic mountainous range enveloping the pilgrimage town.... full review

So-So, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...The entire film leads up to the true event it is based on – the Uttarakhand floods of June 2013 which killed close to 6,000 people. Kapoor tries to juxtapose the fury of nature with the tempestuousness of forbidden love, and is successful for the most part, except that the narrative never quite reaches its zenith.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Sushant Singh Rajput is a buttoned-down presence whose character has to prove his nationalism and underline his purity. The absence of any creases or rough edges makes Mansoor a very nice but a very dull boy. Singh Rajput’s reticence is amply compensated for by Sara Ali Khan, a debutant with the confidence of a camera veteran. Ali Khan is a vibrant presence, lending her character spirit and charisma. She is the most watchable and memorable character in the pre-interval sequences, and gives a snappily told but somewhat cold film much-needed warmth when the mountains melt and everything goes under water.... full review

So-So, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...against Kedarnath for being “insensitive” to the 2013 Uttarakhand tragedy and turning it into a metaphor is a proof that we are content remaining blind to the bigger picture; that we are not far from disaster but sitting right on top of it.... full review

So-So, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...For a love story, there are no romantic tracks that really hold your attention. Apart from the song Namo Namo, Amit Trivedi’s music doesn’t create the required mood for a love saga like Kedarnath. Director Abhishek Kapoor’s attempt to make a film set against the backdrop of a natural calamity of this proportion is ambitious and sincere.... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, KEDARNATH is a poor fare owing to the unexciting and flawed writing and weak execution. What works well is Sara Ali Khan's stupendous performance and the flood sequences. At the box office, its fate will be an average one.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...After all, you know a film is on shaky ground when it’s a natural disaster that must rescue it from being a man-made disaster.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...Kedarnath is a forgettable film, but some may remember the girl fondly — which might be the film’s only goal. In one scene, Khan rides down the mountain on Rajput’s back, and he calls her the heaviest load he’s lifted. She smiles and tells him to get used to it. Carry on, Indian cinema, carry on.... full review

Thumbs down, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...Kedarnath, starring Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput is a hackneyed love story that just doesn't flow. Though performances by Sushant and Sara are commendable, the film leaves you rather untouched.... full review

Thumbs down, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...And having said that, it is some of the simple and everyday interactions between Mansoor and Mukku before the interval that temporarily keep the film afloat with false promise of something good to come. But by interval time, we know this film will be a goner.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...There was clarity of intent and execution in Abhishek Kapoor’s terrific Kai Po Che, as it went about upholding the virtues and necessity of religious harmony. It took a clear stand. In trying to please everyone, Kedarnath loses edge, and leads to a tepid cop-out. It’s a weepie minus the tears.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Be that as it may, is this the sort of romance dream-debuts are made of? Traditionally, yes. Khan's mother, Amrita Singh, for instance, similarly hit the screen with Betaab — rich girl, poor boy, young love — in the early '80s. Practically all top stars from the '90s have at some point owed their stardom to a similar super-hit. Maybe that's the intention here. Wonder if this stuff still works in the front benches; forget the few highfalutin film-buffs. Who knows? Wish them well; of course.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Kedarnath is a two-hour film, so the demand it makes on your time is reasonable. The special effects aren't up to scratch nor is the screenplay, but do watch the film for Sara Ali Khan. The pleasure of watching a young actress who not only holds her own in her very first film but also reveals her long-term potential in no uncertain terms makes the otherwise disappointingly inert Kedarnath worth a trip to the multiplex.... full review

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2 readers - 1 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by ishika singh : 4 rating

So-So, by Fan

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: One scene with the protagonist being beaten up and the violence of nature
  • Language: Mostly clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: One lip-to-lip
  • Concept: Boy meets girl, families disapprove. Natural disaster occurs too.
  • General Look and Feel: The Himalayas captured very well.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Kedarnath - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
120 minutes
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Comments (1)

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Fan

Try how much ever as I want I just cannot shake off the feeling of having watched Titanic. The similarities are simply too many. The underdog pitthu being drawn into a fatal relationship by an upper caste Rose. The jealous fiancee, who happens to have more or less the same build + hair style + mannerisms. And above all the overpowering water.

The special effects don't live up to the expectations. I guess it's not easy to recreate such scenes with the Himalayas as a backdrop.

The story is predictable from the word go in the trailer. The lady love's character is haphazardly written. Although she gets ample opportunities to act, unlike in Simmba.

Overall nice translation of Titanic to Indian conditions and Hindi film genre. But otherwise not much to offer.

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