More often than not warning signs are there right at the time of announcement itself. In case of Shaadisthan, there wasn’t even a semblance of announcement. The promo wasn’t ‘promoted’ per se and then the film released just like that. No promotion, no fanfare, no nothing and one fine evening, the film was playing on Disney+Hotstar. I had in fact managed to catch the promo and at that time itself the signs were pretty much there that this was an amateurish attempt in the offering.
The place where Shaadisthan suffered most at the promo stage itself was that there was no semblance of a story. It was erratically put together with no real connection between the characters, dialogues, scenes and events. Still, with some false hopes that the final product narrated by Raj Singh Chaudhary (who had earlier acted as a lead, and rather well, in films like Gulaal and Antardwand) would have something better to offer, I played on this 90 minutes tale.
Well, all expectations were laid to rest there and then in the first five minutes when a random rock song with virtually no audiences around (they were clearly patched into the proceedings during the post production) played on. There was rap thrown in as well with the principle cast comprising of Kirti Kulhari, Apurva Dogra, Shenpenn Khymsar and Ajay Jayanthi trying to fit into the band member zone. Yes, Apurva and Shenpenn did look at least a bit convincing but that’s about it.
However, as you soon find out, the film isn’t really about the rock band, it’s about a young 17 year old girl turning 18, Medha Shankar, who is required to travel from Mumbai to Ajmer with her parents [Nivedita Bhattacharya, Rajan Modi] on a road trip. A turn of events orchestrated by the girl’s cousin brother [Nishank Verma] results in all these characters come together in a tempo traveler converted into a caravan bus, and this is the point where some sort of interest develops into the proceedings.
You want to know what’s troubling the girl. You want to find out why her father behaves in such an irritating manner. You empathize with the mother for her meek attitude. You hope that a bond would develop between Apurva and the family. You look forward to Shenpenn talk more about his Tibetan origin. You expect an angle of communal harmony thrown in due to Muslim character played by Ajay. And then of course, you do get one clap-worthy scene with Kirti takes the elderly man to task when he mocks her rock performance as trash.
However, this is where the buck stops as the film goes totally downhill once the caravan reaches Udaipur. With the introduction of Kay Kay Menon (in a guest appearance as Raja sahab), one expected that the drama would elevate. However, other than the fact that he clearly playacts for the camera, the turn of events from this point on are simply incomprehensive. In fact it is sheer bewildering to find all the characters get into a different zone altogether and suddenly, the film just crash-lands. The wedding which follows tries to salvage it but to no avail.
In the midst of this all, there are a couple of scenes between Kirti and Nivedita that debate on gender equality, or the lack of it. However, they come across as two adults debating it on a news channel or a stage, albeit in a far more civil way than one has come to see on screen. The point is made but then it is stretched to such an extent that you just want the film to end. As a matter of fact the core written material of Shaadisthan is so weak and flimsy that you wonder if it would have been better off had the narrative folded up inside 30-45 minutes.
Even technically the film is quite weak as it doesn’t even look like being shot from a film camera. The sheer framing of so many shots are lesser than some of the poorly made OTT shows and you wonder how this was qualified as a ‘film’ to begin with. Moreover, even the performances are nothing great to write home about as other than Kirti and Nivedita (and to some extent Apurva and Shenpenn) there isn’t much to notice. As a matter of fact Medha has such an important part to play in the film but she is so dull that your heart doesn’t even beat for her.
Give this one a skip and you won’t miss anything.