Cast: Hetal Gadda, Krrish Chhabria, Vipin Sharma
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
There is something incredible happening around us, but we don’t know it yet. Call it magical realism or our inability to spot a rainbow (Dhanak), we keep marching ahead with our blinkers on. But, Pari (Hetal Gadda) and Chotu (Krrish Chhabria) are not like us, not anymore.
They live in a small mud house near the desert in Rajasthan where life is as difficult as it can be. Pari has been failing her exams for two years to study in the same class as her brother Chotu. The young boy will be turning nine soon and his sister believes that her idol, Shah Rukh Khan, who appears on the posters of an eye donation campaign, can help restore blind Chotu’s vision before his birthday. Now, they need to meet Khan who is shooting at the other end of Rajasthan.
Unlike most road movies, Dhanak is not about any inward journey for its lead characters. Undeniably innocent, their approach to life is pure and full of trust. They believe in a house with walls of sweets, and sing folklore with foreigners. They fight to prove Shah Rukh’s supremacy over Salman. And, to walk across Rajasthan is just another sport for them.
This may prove dangerous because the barren lands stretched on both sides of the road can trick you into believing things that aren’t there.
As you journey with Pari and Chotu, you may meet an American singing an ode to peace, or you can run into a tribal woman with a gun. Your luck can save you from an approaching dust storm, or it may land you straight in the laps of a godwoman. It’s a world where only your conscience can save you.
The cocky Chotu lives in a state of denial about his disability, but his courage infuses hope in others. He is always hungry and asks for chocolates from strangers without being ashamed of it. On the other hand, Pari is mature and full of gratitude. But, she is not someone who wouldn’t act her age. Her indomitable spirit sails her through the thick of times.
The kids talk a lot and that shifts the focus from the people they meet on their road trip. Repetitive conversations make some of the most interesting characters of the film go unnoticed.
Director Nagesh Kukunoor explored Rajasthan in Dor like never before, and the same style of cinematography and character placement can be seen in Dhanak. Long shots capture sand sliding like water with minimal props. The frames rarely look crowded as enough space is allotted to the background. The secondary characters could have been given more depth though.
Watch: Trailer of Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak
Thanks to its use of fusion, Dhanak slowly grows on you. And, who knows, Chotu and Pari may help you in shedding that tough exterior you’ve been burdened with.
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