Kedarnath is a communal love story set in the background of disastrous Uttarakhand floods of 2013.

Mansoor (played by Sushant Singh Rajput) is a humble and reserved porter who takes people on horseback or his back through the 14 km arduous stretch from Gauri Kund to Kedarnath – that houses the 2000- year-old holy Shiva temple. Being a Muslim does not stop him from believing in Lord Shiva or shouting Jai Bolenath so much that he brushes aside the religious discrimination he faces right from his introduction scene with a zest that surprises the audience. While he manages to win over the devotee who refuses to travel with a Muslim to see her Bolenath with his innate goodness and charm, the same cannot be said when he comes face to face with the villain. Mandakini aka Mukku (played by Sara Ali Khan) is, as love stories go, everything that Mansoor is not — richer, daughter of the local priest, bubbly, rebellious and ardent cricket lover. While Mansoor spots (read: taken by her beauty and smart banter) the girl much before she notices him, he looks the other way keeping in mind his religion and his status. But Mukku, in keeping with her character, is left intrigued by Mansoor and pursues him with a fervour like no other. As their love story develops, the usual family and communal drama seep in. But a bigger tragedy awaits the couple that nobody could have foreseen.

I remember being extremely excited about this movie after watching the trailer because the premise in itself was heartbreaking. But unfortunately, the film is not as strong as the premise. The story is essentially a romantic drama that we’ve seen a million times before. The Orthodox families, inter-faith love, the bad dude who wants to marry the heroine and beat the hero to a pulp. Legit all of it. The only thing that’s different is the natural calamity that affects the region. The first half of the movie takes its own sweet time by establishing the main two characters and their love story. The second half is better only because of the brilliant visuals and VFX. While the pressure of building more hotels and the climatic repercussions of the same are mentioned in one or two scenes, it never really impacts you. The sheer intensity of devastation the floods had bought in real life is what will hook you to the screens. At the end of the day, it will break your heart because you know it happened in real life.

Coming to the actors, Sara is a breath of fresh air. She owns every frame she’s a part of and plays the part with so much conviction that it will make you root for her character. She looks stunning in her desi avatar and plays every bit of her part from rebellious, to flirtatious to devastated with a determination that only seasoned actors bring to the screen. She is the single main reason why you should go watch the movie. Sushant is his brilliant self, as usual, with his subtle charm. But again, we see him in a role that he’s done in his other movies. The chemistry between the two is crackling and does give us some supercharged moments for us to enjoy. The movie belongs mainly to Sara and Sushant, and then the floods. While the supporting cast is good in their roles, they don’t have too much to work with. Their characters are cliche and we’ve seen over the last oh-so-many years.

While director and writer Abhishek Kapoor‘s attempt to bring the story of Kedarnath to the screen is sincere, it misses the bulls-eye by a hair. But what he’s done with his stunning shots of the hilly regions and the two main actors is still commendable. The writer Kanika Dhillon, along with Abhishek, succeeds in creating a serenity that contrasts the chaos in the second half. But it missed the succinct quality that the trailer promised.

But if you’re free on a Friday and are looking for a movie, I’d say, go watch it for Sara’s performance. She’s an absolute delight to watch.

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan

Director: Abhishek Kapoor

Rating: 3/5