'Kedarnath' review: Sara Ali Khan shines in her debut performance; film is visually stunning

Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput in 'Kedarnath' poster Photograph:( Twitter )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 06, 2018, 08.45 PM (IST) Shomini Sen

Who doesn't like to watch a story of two-star-crossed lover unfold on the big screen? The story may be predictable, it may have a tragic ending and one may cry buckets watching the tragic love story, but let's admit it- there is a certain appeal to good old passionate love stories- they never get too old. 

Filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor's latest 'Kedarnath' ticks all boxes that make for a classic love story. And it does serve an endearing story to a great extent. Set in the backdrop of the 2013 Uttarakhand floods that devastated the state, the film is a story of a feisty Brahmin girl Mukku (Sara Ali Khan) and a do-gooder pitthu Mansoor(Sushant Singh Rajput) who not only have to fight societal norms and prejudices but also nature's fury in order to be together. 

The first half is breezy. A rebel, Mukku has a difficult relationship with her family, is constantly angry at her father (Nitish Bhardwaj) and wants to put her fiance (Nishant Dahiya) down in whichever way possible. She lures suitors to her doorstep every now and then, fights with her sister (Pooja Gor) and cusses freely while watching cricket matches. 

In contrast, Mansoor is a mellowed man who believes in doing good for everyone. With his charm and kindness, he makes even the staunch pilgrims who visit Kedarnath his admirers. He talks less and is initially reluctant to befriend the talkative Mukku because he is aware of the differences between them much to the girl's disappointment. But the two come close as they confess their inner fears to each other. Only to be separated by the staunch fiance who feels 'they' (read Muslims) anyway do not belong to the holy town of Kedarnath. 

As the two star-crossed lovers fight the parents, society, and norms to be together, rains lash the pilgrim town nonstop. The rains and the eventual floods serve as a metaphor to the havoc that it brings to Mukku and Mansoor's life and the town at large. 

The movie slips in the second half for a bit when a hasty (unnecessary) wedding takes place, the girl attempts to slash her wrist and the boy's community is asked to leave the town without any valid reason. There is also no proper explanation given as to why Mukku is forced to get engaged to the man who is rude and a bully. But the writers, Kapoor himself and Kanika Dhillon, neatly gather the scattered story in the last 20 minutes when the floods and the devastation takes over the story taking to a grand climax. 

If your attention gets diverted at the beginning of second half, and you predict what's in store, the filmmaker forces you to sit up and pay attention the flood scenes which have brilliantly been put together all thanks to the superb VFX with some breathtaking camera work by Tushar Kanti Ray.

Depicting natural disaster on the big screen is never easy as it needs to look authentic, believable and make the audience shiver in fear. And 'Kedarnath' manages to do that. The scenes where floods wash out the hilly town and subsequently washes away the 100 years old temple are captivating, tragic and yet picturesque. It also beautifully highlights that the man-made rules and boundaries stand nothing when nature wants to have its own way. All are equal, be it an upper caste Hindu or a poor Muslim Pitthu boy. 

The film serves Khan the perfect launchpad and the girl doesn't disappoint. She has a captivating screen presence, looks stunning, emotes well and holds her own throughout. It helps that her character is full of spunk, much like her real persona. Ably supporting Khan is Sushant Singh Rajput, who delivers a restraint yet an endearing performance. He is the antidote to her feisty nature and Rajput emotes through eyes mostly making Mansoor very likeable. The lead pair is fresh and shares a crackling chemistry- perfect for such a story. Other notable mentions are Nitish Bhardwaj, who brings in his effervescent charm, as usual, Pooja Gor who plays the difficult, angst-ridden elder sister and Dahiya, who plays the right-winger, shrewd fiance with great ease. 

The film also has some fantastic songs by Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya. Trivedi's tunes and Bhattacharya's words take the story forward and blend well with the scenic beauty around. All the songs are very soothing and beautiful. 

If 'Kedarnath' suffers, it is only because of over -dramatisation of certain scenes and a predictable story of star-crossed lovers. You know how the story will pan out but I'd still say it is worth a watch. For its music, its visuals and its actors. 

The story may not leave a lasting impression, but its visuals and Sara Ali Khan will surely do.