Shaadisthan, a Hindi film starring Kirti Kulhari, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Rajan Modi, Medha Shankar, Shenpenn Khymsar, Kay Kay Menon, Ajay Jayanthi, and Apurv Dogra, is out on Disney+ Hotstar. Directed by Raj Singh Chaudhary, the film focuses on two different generations and clash in their morals and values. As the title suggests, the base of the story is Shaadi (marriage). The concept sounds good, but the execution isn’t up to the mark. Read the detailed review below.
Sanjay Sharma (played by Rajan Modi) is furious at his daughter Arshi (played by Medha Shankar) as she’s the reason they’re late to catch a flight. They all have to go to Rajasthan to attend his nephew’s wedding. He constantly reminds his daughter and wife Kamla (played by Nivedita Bhattacharya) how much he works and sacrifices for the family.
Sanjay’s nephew arranges a bus for them, which will be driven by the singers who will sing at his wedding. These singers are Sasha, Imaad, Freddie, and Jigme (Kirti Kulhari, Ajay Jayanthi, Apurva Dogra and Shenpenn Khymsar). As they all are in their 20s, they sing, drink and smoke at any time of the day. Along with his daughter, Sanjay is now also mad at these singers because of their lifestyle. His poor wife has to bear his frustration and constant bickering.
The description of Shaadisthan reads, ‘Mumbai to Ajmer, a squabbling family, a band and clashing values. Along the roads of friendship and life, this journey only gets crazier!’ Arshi’s parents forcibly want her to get engaged to the bride’s brother the next day after turning 18. Hence, she is unhappy and mad at her parents and calls them monsters. But all her father could think of is society and how much he has sacrificed for his wife and daughter.
For some time, Sanjay is away from everyone to get some work done. Kirti Kulhari aka Sasha takes this opportunity to ask some uncomfortable questions to Nivedita Bhattacharya’s Kamla. At first, we think Sasha is trying to make Kamla realise her value. But her disdainful approach takes away the primary intention of the film’s story. It feels like she’s taunting Kamla by asking her questions like – When did you last have sex with your husband? Do you hug your husband? and many more. In an attempt to make Kamla realise her value, Sasha comes across as snobbish and it’s really upsetting.
Shaadisthan could’ve been a tight slap on patriarchy had the director not tried to preach so much. The film that tries to sell itself as a feminist story has dialogue like – Hum jaisi auratein ladai karti hai taaki aap jaisi auraton ko apni duniya mein ladai na karni pade (Women like us fight so that women like you don’t have to fight in your own world). I don’t think any feminist will say this to another woman in such a condescending manner to prove her point. In fact, we have to be gentle while trying to make women like Kamla understand their value as human beings. It’s a fight of centuries and one cannot prove a point with harsh words.
Another problem I have with Shaadisthan is Kirti Kulhari’s character. We know she takes care of her parents, isn’t married, loves singing and earns well, but that isn’t enough. When you want the audience to believe the words of the lead character, they need to have a strong personality. Sasha is just a modern girl with modern values, but there’s no depth to her. We know Kamla’s story as we are seeing her typical married life where she has no voice. But there’s nothing known to us about Sasha. So why would anyone or even Kamla listen to her?
The length of the film could’ve been cut short and maybe I wouldn’t have mentioned these many flaws in my Shaadisthan review. The makers take a lot of time to make their point, especially when the climax is predictable. Apart from showing/making a few good points, the Disney+ Hotstar film fails to impress with its not-so feministic approach. The music of the film is okay and doesn’t add much to the story. That’s a big drawback as the digital platform is presenting it as a musical.
Shaadisthan: Is it worth watching?
Overall, Raj Singh Chaudhary tries to slap patriarchy with his latest film. But the patronising approach, weak woke character and waste of a talent like Kay Kay Menon doesn’t make it a memorable watch.
Shaadisthan is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.