Kunal Deshmukh’s new romantic drama Shiddat, starring Sunny Kaushal and Radhika Madan in lead roles, presents itself as this story of crazy passionate love where our protagonist would go to any extent to get his love. But what is problematic about the film is that it just propagates that conservative mentality by making a creepy stalker a passionate lover. Jaggi from Shiddat is what if Kabir Singh was a DDLJ fan.
Joginder Dhillon, aka Jaggi, is our hero, and he is trying to get into the UK via France illegally to see the girl he loves. The girl is a swimmer named Kartika, whom he met three months ago in India at an athletic event. Kartika, who was already engaged at that point, had casually promised Joggi that if he managed to reach London before her wedding, she would cancel the wedding and marry him. How this mad guy tries to do that is what we are witnessing in this movie.
There was this era in almost all the film industries where if the hero and heroine kissed or had sex or if either of them had seen the other one naked, they would have to fall in love and live happily ever after. What you see in Shiddat is the same logic presented with this pseudo-modern tone. Jaggi has no understanding of personal space, privacy, etc. and his life policy is “I love her. So I need her. Does she need me? Why do I care?” Maybe the writers felt guilty about glorifying a stalker, and they decided to casually include some lines here and there to give us an acknowledgment that they know this character is creepy.
Kunal Deshmukh, who has previously made romantic movies like Tum Mile, wants to pull off a story that needs to have an epic stature. The kind of things Jaggi does to show that he would go to any extent is a bit too much, and luckily he wasn’t made a Rajinikanth. The problem is that because of the borderline-creep impression given to the character, none of these “heroic” attempts feel like a version of passion. If I were his well-wisher, I would have suggested therapy rather than a fake passport. SPOILER ALERT! The movie’s ending is perhaps the makers’ defense tactics because you don’t talk bad about the dead, right? The track in the movie that features Mohit Raina as Gautam, an embassy official, is just another effort to glorify Jaggi’s madness.
Sunny Kaushal is actually pretty effective as this desi lover boy who has no idea about consent. But the writers aren’t giving him any help to make the character lovable at any point. Child-like energy would have been a good attribute to the character. But here, it is pure childishness. The talented Radhika Madan has the energy to make Kartika someone who questions a stalker. And even in the climax portions, she doesn’t make it overly melodramatic. Mohit Raina was good as this elderly brother figure. Diana Penty was just about okay as Gautam’s partner.
Problematic stalkers have always been there in even the most celebrated movies. But most of those movies also had a reason for the female to fall in love with that person. Here Kartika doesn’t look like a person who was confused about her life choice. In fact, for almost 80% of the story, her character doesn’t even care much about Joggi. Rather than showing a palpable connection between the lead pair, the film is just emotionally trapping the heroine, showing what all the hero did to see her.
Rather than showing a palpable connection between the lead pair, the film is just emotionally trapping the heroine, showing what all the hero did to see her.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended