Kedarnath is the story about a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl falling in love with each other. It’s not a modern love tale where the lovers are in bed by the second date but is a slow burner, where love germinates over many a ride up and down a mountain. Our heroine Mukku (Sara Ali Khan) is the younger daughter of a priest who also runs a shop and a guest house and needs a pithoo — porter — to cart her up and down. Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) happens to be Muslim but has lots of faith in Lord Shiva as it’s thanks to the Shiv temple at Kedarnath that he’s able to earn money as a porter. He’s an affable man prone to giving discounts to his clients and posing for selfies with them. Their common love for cricket leads to a chance meeting and a smitten Mukku later hires him for the whole month. She bares her heart to him and he amusedly listens and slowly, they fall in love. But there are complications. Mukku is betrothed to someone else. Actually to a person whom everyone assumed would marry her elder sister but who later changed his mind. A lot of angst brews under the surface because of that. She’s emotionally blackmailed into marrying the guy but nature intervenes before the marriage is consummated. A huge flood, coupled with cloudburst envelopes the valley. Mukku and her father take refuge in the temple, which is the only structure left standing. Mansoor comes to their rescue at that point of time and their love and faith gets tested once more…
Uttarakhand saw a tragedy of gigantic proportions in 2013 where thousands lost their lives. Abhishek Kapoor tries to tell their story in a nutshell. He does point out that it’s the unchecked development of the area, which didn’t take the environmental hazards into account, was more or less responsible for the tragedy. But please bear in mind that this is a commercial Bollywood film and not a documentary so you have to read between the lines to get to that point. He has also made hushed noises about how religious extremism practiced by the majority is slowly killing the harmony. Given the volatile climate currently engulfing our country, it’s understandably not the focus of the film, but it’s there.
Cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray has shot the film as a picture postcard homage to the beauty of Kedarnath. You fall in love with its rustic charm and want to book the first ticket available to the place. Apart from that, what holds your attention is the natural ease displayed by debutante Sara Ali Khan in front of the camera. She reminds you instantly of her mother Amrita Singh. Amrita’s bubbly effervescence has found an outlet in her daughter. You are riveted to the screen whenever Sara is around. Sushant Singh Rajput must have got a sore back ferrying her. He’s underplaying his role and gracefully lets newcomer Sara take centrestage. The duo do share a chemistry together and it feels good to see an old world romance come to life on screen after a long, long time.
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.