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Review Hindi

Shaadisthan review: This road-trip movie has an important social message

Release Date: 11 Jun 2021

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Keyur Seta

Though the film starring Kirti Kulhari has its flaws, its heart is in the right place.

In road films, you generally see one or more characters undergo fundamental transformations while making the journey. Writer-director Raj Singh Chaudhary’s Shaadisthan, which involves two sets of diverse individuals, is no different in this regard.

The film starts with Sanjay Sharma (Rajan Modi), who lives in Mumbai, losing his temper with teenage daughter Arshi (Medha Shankar), whom he blames for missing their flight to Ajmer. The family was headed to the Rajasthan town for Sanjay's nephew’s wedding. The daughter is unrepentant as Sharma’s wife Kamla (Nivedita Bhattacharya) struggles to de-escalate things.

Sanjay looks for another mode of transport to reach the destination quickly but can't find any at such short notice. So his nephew asks a friend and his music troupe to accommodate the Sharmas in their minibus. The group is also heading to Ajmer to perform at the wedding. In the absence of any other option, Sanjay agrees.

But he soon regrets the decision. The behaviour of band members Freddie (Apurva Dogra), Sasha (Kirti Kulhari), Imaad (Ajay Jayanthi) and Jigme (Shenpenn Khymsar), who drink alcohol openly and smoke and cuss freely, comes as a culture shock to the middle-aged and strait-laced Sanjay. Arshi, however, is unmoved.

If you were feeling bad for Mr and Mrs Sharma till this point, the tables are soon turned as you learn that there is another motive for the family's trip to Ajmer: Sanjay wants to get Arshi engaged there, a day after she turns 18.

Shaadisthan might be a road film, but it also takes a stand against toxic patriarchy and questions what 'cultured' means. Sanjay disdains the consumption of alcohol and the use of foul language but sees nothing wrong in pushing his daughter into a marriage against her wishes as soon as she attains the legal age, destroying her hopes. The band members behave in uncouth fashion but they turn out to be the real positive characters here.

Medha as Arshi is believable while you just love to hate Modi's Sanjay. Kulhari is perfect as a modern and urban woman with a heart of gold. Bhattacharya brings alive a woman who knows she has been a victim of patriarchy but is unable to do anything about it. Dogra, Ajay Jayanthi and Khymsar provide decent support. Kay Kay Menon turns in a memorable cameo.

Shaadisthan has its flaws, like the incident where the characters are tricked into consuming opium. One can understand the band members’ toned-down reaction since they are used to intoxicants. But the Sharma couple being relatively unaffected by the narcotic is hard to believe. The film, however, has its heart in the right place.

Shaadisthan is currently being streamed on Disney+ Hotstar. 


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