Sadak 2, starring Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt and Aditya Roy Kapoor, is out on Disney+Hotstar. And let me first warn you without beating about the bush: this road leads nowhere. Director of the film, Mahesh Bhatt has been one of the leading directors of the 1980s and 1990s, making hit dramas with big stars and peppy soundtracks. So naturally, when he announced coming out of retirement to make a movie, there was some level of buzz and excitement around Sadak 2. Although the 1991-hit Sadak was nowhere near his best movie, one still hoped that it would have the prequel’s engaging plot-line and Bhatt’s touch of emotively showcasing the rift between people and their religion. But by the end of Sadak 2, the feeling of incredulity hits hard: did this expert director really emerge from retirement to make… this? Because even with a cast so talented, this sadak is best not taken.

Sadak 2 reunites the team of KalankSanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt and Aditya Roy Kapur, after a year. It also stars Jisshu Sengupta, Priyanka Bose, Mohan Kapur and Akshay Anand in pivotal roles. The music is composed by Jeet Gannguli, Ankit Tiwari, Samidh Mukherjee, Urvi, Suniljeet. The film is produced by Mukesh Bhatt.

A Hare-Brained Plot

What’s so wrong with Sadak 2, you might ask. Well, many things honestly. The plot tries to recreate the 90s flavour, but ends in taking up all the worst aspects of 90s filmmaking. There is a fake baba (Makrand Deshpande) whose villainy is oversold. We have Aarya (Alia Bhatt), a rich heiress whose fiery 21st-century spirit looks quite misplaced amidst the last century’s treatment of her character as a bechari ladki. That’s right, we haven’t progressed much since the original Sadak, where Pooja Bhatt’s character was treated as a damsel who needs saving by a hunky man. Aarya is out to get her revenge from this fake baba who has been influencing his father Yogesh (Jisshu Sengupta) and step-mother Nandini (Priyanka Bose). In the process, she also falls in love with her former troll, Vishal (Aditya Roy Kapoor). Told you, it all too incredulous!

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Fast forward to the point where Aarya meets the taxi-driver Ravi (Sanjay Dutt) and convinces him to drive her to the mountains where the fake baba lives. Ravi, a weepy man in his 40s who is still not over the demise of his wife (Pooja Bhatt’s character from the original Sadak), finds renewed purpose with this journey. Coming along for the ride is Aarya’s boyfriend Vishal as well. And what follows after are more disbelieving plot-twists than you can probably imagine, with each being more ridiculous than the last one, and all finally leading to one of the cringiest climaxes of any film this year.

Abysmal Portrayal of Mental Health Issues

As if the plot wasn’t already bad enough, Sadak 2 handles issues of mental health with all the finesse of an elephant in a china shop. The film mocks suicide, glorifies mental illness, and even has the touch of drugs ‘for the greater good’. That’s right, all the three possibilities are currently being investigated in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case, and Mahesh Bhatt himself has been a target of the smear campaign that has followed the actor’s death. And now he’s out with a film that’s full of people talking about ending their lives.

The movie, in fact, begins with such a cross current to real-life: Ravi wants to take his life and ties a noose to the fan in an unsuccessful attempt to hang himself. We have Aarya who is labelled crazy for her behaviour, and there is even a mention of her being threatened with electric shock therapy. More so, drugs are used so casually in the film that ‘is this for real?’ is a question one is forced to ask too many times throughout those dreary 133 minutes.

Some Glimmers Of Hope

Sanjay Dutt was the star of the original Sadak, and he emerges as the star of the sequel too. He’s the only person who holds the fraying plot together, pulling off both the emotional and the action scenes with ease. Jisshu Sengupta as Aarya’s father also delivers an impactful performance and he totally owns the few frames that he is given in the film. Other than that, Sadak 2 has no saving.

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Alia Bhatt, who is considered one of the finest actors of this generation, falls flat this time. Aditya Roy Kapoor doesn’t have much role to play and takes a back seat for the most part of the film. Seasoned actors like Makarand Deshpande and Priyanka Bose deliver some ridiculously overblown acting. The screen-writing is passé, the dialogues sound comical, the set and costume designs are overtly flashy and on-the-face, and the camera doesn’t aid the cause by making the action sequences look caricaturish. The background score is melodramatic, to say the least. It’s like Sadak 2 started a journey without being clear of the directions it wanted to move in, and thus ended up taking a one-way road to an absolute dead end.

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