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Filmy Weather (39): Kedarnath, or Love and Hate in the Time of Rain

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It was in March 2018 that I wrote my previous post in this series. This long break was due to my inability to go to a movie theatre. When I could overcome my temporary immobility, I decided to watch “Kedarnath” for a variety of reasons. First, it was Sara Ali Khan’s debut film, and I have been her grandmother’s ardent fan! Second, it was a disaster movie, and I always like to see how films depict the India Meteorological Department’s role in weather-related disasters, if at all. Third, I had seen Sara’s aunt Soha Ali Khan in another disaster movie, Tum Mile (2009), and I wanted to make a comparison.

There is no doubt that Sara Ali Khan, with all the actor’s genes in her, carries the entire film and steals the show as Mukku, the vivacious mountain girl. But it is not without the help of Sushant Singh Rajput who graciously allows her to do that, literally carrying her on his back in his role as Mansur, the Pitthoo.

Among the many songs of Kedarnath, Qaafirana is nice and sweet: “Aise Tum Mile Ho, Aise Tum Mile Ho, Jaise Mil Rahi Ho Itar Se Hawa…”. But the perfume does not linger long in the air. Soon afterwards the atmosphere gets vitiated by the stench of hatred, jealousy, separation, misunderstanding, shrewdness, ambition and all. To all this, the environment adds its own woes. Kedarnath does not have just the one mandatory rain song that Hindi movies are required to have. Here, all life including rituals, ceremonies, weddings, arguments, and fights, goes on in the midst of heavy downpours. In one scene, where it is not raining, the heroine is immersed in freezing river water many times as if in compensation. Even when there are no visuals of rain, the film has the sound of pouring rain in the background. The audiography is so realistic that one feels that it is literally raining over the roof of the movie theatre!

In Tum Mile, the Meteorological Department was shown to be a place where people played carrom to pass the time, oblivious of the rain. Kedarnath has a brief sequence showing quite a high-tech Meteorological Department in action, with the staff discussing the situation arising from a low pressure area developing in the Bay of Bengal.

Tum Mile like Kedarnath, was also a disaster movie, but it was singularly focussed on the Mumbai rain event of 26 July 2005. Kedarnath while dealing with the cloudburst of 16 June 2013, attempts to tackle several problems in one go, and obviously cannot succeed. It has inter-faith conflicts, family discords, poverty, hazards of mountain life, all on the agenda. But it does deal with the Uttarakhand disaster in some detail, simulating the cloudburst process pretty well and using actual documentary footage of the tragic events. If the lesson it wants to teach is that man should not disturb the balance of the environment, then it does that effectively.

Kedarnath is about human beings seeking God residing on an inaccessible mountain top. But do they find him? And what do they do after finding him? These and other questions remain unanswered. Like, why does God allow natural disasters to happen? What role does he play at that time? Is it his way of disciplining those he loves? Is it his intention to restore order in an unruly and reckless world? And if an ordinary disaster can be so horrible, what will happen on his final day of judgment?

See also: Filmy Weather (9): Tum Mile, Love in the Time of Rain

Prof R R Kelkar’s Marathi Article about the Upcoming Monsoon

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Prof R R Kelkar has published an article in Marathi in the 22 April 2018 issue of Sakal Saptarang. It discusses the prospects of the 2018 monsoon in the backdrop of the recent long range forecast of IMD. Click on the thumbnails to read.

        

 

 

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