On a scale of Baaghi 3 to Kalank to Saaho, the Mahesh Bhatt misdirected Sadak 2, the 29 years later sequel that literally not a single one of the 7 billion souls on God's good Earth was asking for, falls somewhere between purgatory and eternal damnation. The 3 aforementioned movies have the dubious distinction of being the worst reviewed movies on this site (for the masochistic ones among you who may be tempted to give them a shot, caveat emptor, the reviews are given here, here and here). Now streaming on Hotstar, the casual movie watcher starting to watch this 2 hr 13 min abomination might be tempted to give up after the first 13 minutes, and that in itself might be generous by at least 10 minutes. However yours truly, who has sworn fealty to you the dear reader, and chosen to sacrifice himself for the benefit of humankind, and the millions of hours that would be thereby saved for them to enjoy more intellectually stimulating highbrow fare like Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Bigg Boss or Indian Matchmaking, has to plow on till the bitter end. Ah well into each life a little rain must fall.
The movie trailer, which has the dishonor of being the most disliked video of all time on YouTube (12 million thumbs down and counting at the time of going to press), should have been warning enough, but it was the target of a concerted campaign against the makers of the movie currently caught up in the maelstrom of the one burning issue that the nation wants to know, Covid be damned, the untimely demise of SSR. Sometimes one can judge a book by its cover, like say the telegraphing of incompetence and mendacity of the current resident of the White House, which are apparent the moment he opens his mouth. But we critics are drawn to such fare to see how bad it gets, like moths to a flame.
Starting with a Ku Klux Klan type of ritual being performed in a forest at night, with background music lifted straight from the chanting in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999), the ludicrous nature of the writing reveals itself when Aarya (Alia Bhatt) spray paints the word Badla on a huge mural of a religious baba, only to at the very next moment set the whole thing aflame. Pray woman, why did you then waste time and paint? A few days later she arrives at the house of cab driver Ravi Kishore (Sanjay Dutt) showing a reservation from 3 months ago, demanding to be driven, I kid you not, from Mumbai to Ranikhet in Uttarakhand. Ravi, who is about to have a go at his second suicide attempt (the first one failed for a reason that let's just say being overweight isn't always bad for one's health), promptly cancels said suicide plans in exasperation at the drop of a hat to help a complete stranger who has just waltzed into his life and is being the customer from hell. Maybe the writers thought they were too clever by half at this twist on the old narrative of the stranger rescuing the suicide attempting person from jumping off the bridge. The inanities keep piling up and are too many to enumerate but there is an over-the-top, cross-dressing godman Gyaani (Makarand Deshpande, the yun hi chala chal guy from Swades (2004), all hairdo, hamming it up big time in a travesty of an homage to Maharani played by the late Sadashiv Amrapurkar in the original), a father seemingly in constant inconsolable grief (Jisshu Sengupta from Shakuntala Devi of a few weeks ago, hamming it up toe to toe), a singer with an air of mystery Vishal (Aditya Roy Kapur, the millennial Nasir Hussain, reprising for the umpteenth time his stubbly, hang dog, crying expression from Aashiqui 2 (2013), Fitoor (2016) and of course last year's Kalank), and the literally named one-armed bandit Dinesh Hathkaata played by Bad Man Gulshan Grover in a cameo that could have been played by any extra playing a goon.
I was looking for any saving grace in this monstrosity but neither the acting nor the story, screenplay, scenery, dialogue, music or direction threw me a lifeline. It wasn't even one of those so bad it's good movies. Forget the current brouhaha - Mahesh Bhatt should be arrested for attempted murder of my movie-watching soul. Along with me, my aatma is roadkill on this sadak too.
August 28, 2020