Cast: Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt, Aditya Roy Kapur, Makarand Deshpande, Priyanka Bose, Jisshu Sengupta, Gulshan Grover
Director: Mahesh Bhatt
Rating: 1.5 stars (out of 5)
In Sadak 2Mahesh Bhatt’s first adventure as a director since 1999, intersect the paths of a taxi driver who has lost the will to live and a 20-year-old girl whose life is in grave danger. It is not a happy intersection. The engine that the film runs on is terribly rusty and the path it takes is leading nowhere.
Sadak 2, broadcast on Disney Hotstar, is more than two hours of total bilge, a bewildering back and forth between one bend in the road and the next. With your headlights on in the blink of an eye, you never get anywhere near finding a significant exit point off the man-made, winding track you veer off without having the slightest idea why you’re here.
The actors sleepwalking through their roles in this ridiculously worked action drama. The lines they are loaded with are so silly they are fun. Pointing at the sad taxi driver (Sanjay Dutt), the hurried girl (Alia Bhatt) tells her grave-bored boyfriend (Aditya Roy Kapoor): “He’s suicidal.” The guy responds after a pause that it doesn’t have to exist: “That’s crazy. The banality of all this borders on the crazy.”
It is difficult to classify Sadak 2. Suffice it to say that you are enthusiastic about parenthood and filial faith and you stick around longer than welcome throughout its duration. Somewhere along the way, if you’re still involved in what’s going on, love and trust lead head-on to greed and betrayal and leave behind a shattered pile of a movie.
The script, written by Bhatt himself with Suhrita Sengupta, is riddled with baddies led by a greedy god (Makarand Deshpande) with followers gifted with the gift of outdoing each other in nonsense. The gossiping guru has his eyes on a large amount of money that a rich woman has bequeathed to her daughter.
That explains why Aryaa Desai, the heiress, is on the run. She is surrounded by malicious people, inside and outside the family, who want her dead before she turns 21. That is the age when, under the law of the land, you will gain full control over your massive inheritance and deny it. maternal aunt turned stepmother Nandini (Priyanka Bose) access to family wealth.
Stepmother brands Aryaa mentally unstable and takes her to a mental hospital. The girl’s irresponsible father, Yogesh Desai (Jisshu Sengupta), cannot do anything to help the girl. She runs away and knocks on the door of Ravi Prakash (Sanjay Dutt), owner of Pooja Tours and Travels with a taxi reservation receipt signed by the latter’s deceased wife.
Ravi is a total mess. He wants to commit suicide. He misses his wife, Pooja, the prostitute he fell in love with and rescued from the vicious transgender pimp Maharani in Sadak, clips of those that mark this movie. He blames himself for the premature death of the woman.
With death upon the two in different ways, Ravi agrees to take Aryaa to Ranikhet from where he must take a helicopter ride to Kailash. She asks the taxi driver that she doesn’t want him to stop on the way to pick up her boyfriend Vishal (Aditya Roy Kapur) from the Central Jail.
That makes for a total of three stories. Aryaa’s story centers on her ‘India Fights Fake Gurus’ social media account. Ravi’s revolves around the death of his wife and her guilt. And Vishal’s tale is the most complicated of all. In fact, everyone who encounters the trio during the trip, including Dilip Hathkaata (Gulshan Grover), a hit man with no right hand, has something to add to the pile.
By the time the driver and his two passengers know each other well, the equations between them change completely. But that is not all. Amid all the gibberish that goes through dialogue, something from Aryaa’s own mouth despite her high demands on rational thinking, a group of new villains emerge from the wood.
A police officer (Mohan Kapur), taking orders from the evil guru, joins forces with the handless growler (who is also a blind follower of the mad hatter-god) to execute the plan to prevent Aryaa from reaching adulthood.
The script takes a desperate turn as the heroine’s rationalistic streak progresses. But don’t worry, come back just in time for her to expose the horrors of being taken for a walk, as the Guruji preaches, by people close to her.
Sadak 2It is a journey best avoided. None of the characters that climbs have full control of their mental faculties. One is suicidal, another is crazy for power, and another is addicted to drugs. And they all seem to be driven by a death wish.
Speaking of death, the only character who wants it for himself is Ravi. The rest are in the enemy line of fire. At the beginning of the movie, two of the female characters, Ravi’s wife and Aryaa’s biological mother, are dead and missing. For Aarya, death lurks in the shadows.
The only woman in the movie who is in a safe corner is the girl’s mausi-turned-mother. But this is a world where, as one character declares, there is no love and no God. At the same time, he says that “there is no business like God’s.” If that doesn’t balance between two extremes, what is?
It would be too much to expect actors to rise above the rubble of such pearls of wisdom. None of them do. Except for a brief patch at the top of the movie’s last hour, when a twist livens things up a bit, the cast is left holding onto straws. Sanjay Dutt is as lively as a world-weary lumberjack; Alia Bhatt sports a consistent look lost in the woods; and Aditya Roy Kapoor settles for an unchanging expression of “let’s get out of here.” Take the hint.
When someone suggests that he turn on the GPS, the taxi driver realizes that he does not need the help of a machine to find an address. Not bad, but not even he can guide Sadak 2 to his destiny. A journey without a map that oscillates between a ghastly emptiness and a pulpy pontification on life and death, the film is a one-way dead end. All it produces is a hideous accumulation of crap.