A passionate but problematic love story

STORY: A young lover with immense perseverance changes the course of his life to follow the girl, whom he believes to be his soul mate. But his journey across continents is fraught with pitfalls, reality checks and a seemingly one-sided obsession. Will he find love or will he perish in search of love?

REVIEW: It’s love at first sight for Jaggi (Sunny Kaushal) when he sees Kartika (Radhika Madan) come out of the pool. But the sparks don’t fly instantly, as an elaborate “nafrat pyaar ki pehli seedi hai” process follows, with Jaggi trying every trick in the book to woo the girl. There is plenty of fun here, as director Kunal Deshmukh transports us to 90s cinema played out in a modern setting. It’s a bit problematic to see a very motivated, girl-obsessed young man who won’t take a no for an answer – something that was not only accepted in the ’90s but also celebrated with songs and dances. “Shiddat” comes dangerously close to it, but fortunately the writers (Shridhar Raghavan, Dheeraj Rattan) grant great freedom to the young girl, who is independent enough to take a stand for herself. As a passionate love story, “Shiddat” is motivated solely from the perspective of its male protagonist Jaggi, whose manic obsession has enough time to build. The entire first half is light and airy with campus romance, flirtation, and lots of naach gaana – basically anything but academics. What works here is the unpredictability factor, because one wonders what will become of this improbable love affair.

There aren’t many characters in “Shiddat,” which is refreshing, but their individual arcs could have been defined more precisely. There’s little conviction in the Mohit Raina and Diana Penty story that seems to exist just to help the central storyline, which is good, but it doesn’t feel organic. Sunny Kaushal has the hardest time playing a high-spirited loving boy with serious boundary issues and as the actor does his best to make him convincing, his character graphics start to get too hard to believe. Radhika Madan struggles to effectively portray Kartika’s inner conflict on screen, most of the time resorting to fumbling to express anxiety. Mohit Raina is well chosen to play Gautam, the Indian immigration lawyer in a foreign country, but there are too many cinematic freedoms to take him seriously. Diana Penty is gorgeous as a young independent Ira, but her character could have been developed more effectively. For a love story, “Shiddat” has above average music (Sachin-Jigar) that grows in you and is effectively used to enhance the narrative. With rich cinematography (by Amalendu Chaudhary), the film shows visual finesse.

The major problem with ‘Shiddat’ is that it’s an exciting idea on paper that tends to lag in execution, especially in the second half. The story is sometimes very unrealistic and absurd too, but what keeps it going is the sense of volatility and suspense. However, it is true that in today’s world of realistic cinema, we often don’t see completely crazy, raw, and provocative love stories. This one goes with Shiddat, but doesn’t leave you deeply moved.

About Victoria Rothstein

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