Magic realism is what best describes Nagesh Kuknoor’s latest outing Dhanak. At first glance, with bright colourful clothes, large stretches of desert, rustic music and traditional rural life, this looks like another regular bollywood movie at offering. However, before you realize, you will soon be transported into Dhanak’s fairy tale kind of world, which is filled with positivity and where every dream comes true.
Set in the backdrop of Rajasthan, the movie traces the journey of eight year old blind boy Chotu and his elder sister Pari as they set out on an adventurous journey through the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. While, the siblings dote on each other, the only bone of contention between them is the love for their ideal superstar. While Chotu wears the bracelet of superstar Salman Khan, Pari believes that Shahrukh Khan will help her in achieving dream. And, as soon as she realizes that superstar Shahrukh is in Jaiselmer both Pari and Chotu set out an exciting journey to get Chotu’s vision back.
From a kind truck driver to a compassionate father, an American Hippie to a delusional man, the kids encounter quirky people on their way. A dose of magic and Indian exoticism is thrown in through a God woman and a blind gypsy. Predictably there is also evil on their way, but the movie subtly reminds us that there is far more good than the bad in the world.
The biggest flaw in the movie is its predictable nature. The second half is rather stretched and the journey to meet SRK looks very long. It seems like Kuknoor’s story is set in an idealistic world of sorts where every stranger that the kids encounter is a kind hearted soul helping the kids in some form. The climax is very simple and fails to deliver a punch. Also, a lack of realism is very clearly evident between Chotu’s real voice and playback singing and this is rather rubbed on our faces very harshly.
The strength of the film lies in its cast. Hetal Gadda and Krrish Chabharia as Pari and Chotu are sizzling together and it is their crackling chemistry that shines when the film doesn’t. Every actor is above excellence and kudos to Nagesh Kuknoor and his team for that. Chotu’s disability is handled very well without any over dramatization.The siblings squabble and fight throughout the film, but their love for each other overpowers all their differences. The innocence in their eyes, their playful smiles peppered with disarming wit will keep you engaged. The camera work of Chirantan Das adds to the beauty of the sunkissed landscapes of Rajasthan. Tapas Relia’s music has the flavor of the desert and flows in sync with narration.
Unlike other road movies which deal with internal reflection, Dhanak is a magical journey of love, belief and a sense of never dying hope. Every character adds colour to the plot, thereby creating a dhanak, a rainbow. If a feel-good movie is what you are looking for, then Dhanak is your safest bet. It will definitely leave you with a smile. As of now, it’s a three star from me.