All those waiting to pounce on all those who dared to like Sadak 2, kindly exhale. The film is, in one word, terrible: why would anyone want to make something so dated, so jaded, in this day and age?
Harking back to the 1991 Sadak, a high-pitched romance between a lanky taxi-driver and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, brings back memories of a time when Bollywood knew how to tell stories. There was nothing madly original about that Sanjay Dutt-Pooja Bhatt starrer, but something about the mix of pulpy plot and performance, toplined by the incomparable Sadashiv Amrapurkar as the evil Maharani, made it one of the most memorable films of that era.
Nearly thirty years later comes this ‘sequel’, and straight away you know that this one is a lost cause. Not that Sanjay Dutt, now appropriately older and attractively grizzled, reprising his role as the strong-of-heart taxi-driver Ravi, has lost anything. And it isn’t as if Alia Bhatt, whose heiress-on-the-run Aarya needs desperately to hit the road, isn’t a solid performer.
The supporting cast isn’t too shabby either: Jisshu Sengupta, who has been making steady inroads into Hindi cinema, is here as Aarya’s father, with Priyanka Bose as her sinister mother. The usually reliable Makrand Deshpande, gets a chance to vamp it up madly as a ‘dhongi baba’. And for a bit of the late 80s, early 90s nostalgia, up pops Gulshan Grover, briefly.
But not one of these actors is given anything credible to do. Who dreamt up this hare-brained plot? Sure, it’s perfectly acceptable to have wicked mommies and befuddled daddies and greedy swamis who prey upon the innocent. And there can be brave girls, accompanied by their faithful swains (Roy Kapur) who want to go up against the ungodly. To fight against ‘andhvishwas’, as Sadak 2 patently wants to, is a good thing, but like this? With not one believable scene, or character, or twist?
It’s hard to believe that this comes from Mahesh Bhatt’s baton, who has given us such classics as Arth, Naam, and the 1999 Zakhm, which spoke so eloquently and emotively to the growing rift between religions, and people. That was a landmark film. In his best work, Bhatt had the ability to catch the flavour of the moment and translate that into smart mainstream fare, and it was a wrench when he decided to stop directing.
The only one who keeps struggling against the leaden storyline is Dutt. Those with long memories may recall how Dutt, never a great actor, had screen presence, and how he and Pooja Bhatt (whom we see in frequent flashbacks in the sequel) made a pair we cared for. In these intervening years during which he experienced personal and professional turbulence, Dutt learnt how to fill out a role, and make us believe. In Sadak 2, despite all the ludicrousness, he stays the last man standing. But it doesn’t do this unbelievably tacky film the least bit of good.
Maybe some day Mahesh Bhatt will make something watchable with Alia, one of the most exciting actors of this generation. Sadly, Sadak 2 is not that film.
Sadak 2 is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.
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