If you scroll through Mahesh Bhatt’s Twitter timeline, you’ll find many philosophical musings, accompanied by appropriately abstract imagery that covers everything, from Buddha in a sunset to intersecting railway tracks to a flower blossoming in the middle of the road.
You get the drift.
One of his recent tweets asked, “I have come a long way. Where? I just don’t know where?”
If you, a thoughtful person who respects their broadband connection, choose to watch Sadak 2, you’d be reminded of Bhatt’s Twitter timeline and the aforementioned tweet, except that the film is over 2 hours long and edited with the skills required to dole out a powerpoint presentation.
Within the first 15 minutes, there are two attempts at suicide, both shown graphically. Sanjay Dutt is a ponderous old man, still mourning the loss of the love of his life, played by Pooja Bhatt. Per his auditory hallucinations, he believes she’s waiting for him in the heavens and misses no opportunity to tell us how badly he wants to sneak up there. Alia Bhatt is on the run. She’s out to expose a fake godman who has cast a sinister spell on her family that caused her mother to die, her father to lose it, and introduced an evil step-mother into the mix, of course.
Bhatt’s some sort of an activist, although a lack of Twitter account seriously made me doubt her credentials. Aditya Roy Kapur starts off as an abusive troll but transforms into a woke fuckboi within 5 minutes. “I was wrong” is all it takes. The film is so dated that the activist group’s outreach programme involves distributing pamphlets outside temples. Damn. So many selfies, yet such little understanding of WhatsApp networks and IT Cells.
Come on, Bollywood. Get with it.
Bhatt is determined to bust dhongi baba’s seedy empire but before that she needs to fulfil her dead mother’s dying wish: make a quick trip to Kailash for some last minute blessings. On the way, she casually picks up Aditya Roy Kapur, who’s supposed to come out of ‘Central Jail’ where he was in for murder.
Except that he looks like he’s just walked out of Aalim Hakim’s salon in Versova after a particularly thrilling hair spa (I’ve tried it, it’s ace). It’s a uniquely Dharma moment in a Vishesh Films’ production. I mean, this is a film where, even the guy who everyone calls ‘taxi driver’ and who’s ferrying Alia on said trip, rides an Audi Q8.
At a little over an hour, it’s revealed that everybody tried double-crossing everybody while the the unit frantically searched for a copy of the bound script. Sources confirmed that when said copy couldn’t be found, Bhatt saahb decided to go by the philosophical ramblings from his Twitter timeline. “The real power is not wanting power.” Tweet or actual dialogue? Keep guessing.
As if infusing an archaic plot with 90s melodrama and dialogue baazi wasn’t tacky enough (“Himmat marne ke liye jeene ke liye chahiye” “Suna tha pyaar kachre ko bhi sona bana deta hai”), at some point, Gulshan Grover wanders into the film. He looks like he hasn’t taken off his costumes from the time he played Gulshan Grover in Mohit Suri’s Gangster. This time, though, one of his hands is missing. In case you miss that subtle detail ― not like it’s visible or anything ― his character is named Dilip Hathkata.
Makrand Deshpande, in a nod to Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s Maharani, plays the fake god man. A fine actor, he’s reduced to a caricature and is made to contort his face in strange ways that are neither sinister nor amusing. What exactly is the cult that he presides over, why are people worshipping him, remains unclear. This is a Sadak with too many potholes...err...plotholes. Jisshu Sengupta now does Bollywood films but he seriously needs a better agent.
Really, here was a chance to explore how religion has been subverted, faith has been weaponised, blind devotion to babas turned into a real concern, thanks to the rapid influx of Big Tech where the assault on truth is getting increasingly impossible to contain. And yet, Sadak 2 is reduced to a pulpy mess, burdened with awful, awful writing, a plot that resembles a catastrophic road accident, and characters who lack any amount of believability or depth. Unless you read Aditya Roy Kapur’s graph as an actor who’s slipping deeper into the endless abyss of addiction with each passing film.
While Dutt’s grizzly facial hair tries its best to instil gravitas in his performance, it’s poor Alia Bhatt who is left mouthing lines she appears to be secretly embarrassed by.
What to do. Even her choice of template, mainstream fare turns out to be fairly enjoyable but Sadak 2 has no redeeming qualities, whatsoever.
Nepo kids have their struggles too, in case the right wing has conveniently forgotten. Outsiders struggle to get films, nepo kids struggle to say no to them.