‘Sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself’. Dhak Dhak ends on this beautiful note, and it somewhat sums up what the film stands for. Four women embark on a bike trip from Delhi to Leh, and with their mean machines roaring loud, they must reach world’s highest peak, Khardung La. What makes the journey even more exciting is how these four women from different backgrounds bond on common grounds, and discover themselves and their strengths, while crossing one obstacle after another. Along the journey, they laugh, enjoy, break down, rise again and ride vigorously towards their dream. Also read: Dhak Dhak Twitter reviews
With its heart at the right place and a well-meaning plot, Dhak Dhak attempts to empower you, entertain you and keeps you excited. It is not at all devoid of the thrills and frills that you would expect to see in a road trip movie. Director Tarun Dudeja wastes no time in weaving subplots to make us meet his leading ladies.
Crux of Dhak Dhak
The story starts with Shashi Kumar Yadav aka Sky (Fatima Sana Shaikh), a YouTuber, who with her penchant for bikes and travel photography, wants to reset her identity that got tarnished after an ugly online scandal. Covering the Barcelona auto expo on her channel is the next big thing on her list, but she first needs to prove herself to secure that spot.
Searching for a story, Sky meets Manpreet Kaur Sethi aka Mahi (Ratna Pathak Shah), who had just won a bike by collecting newspaper coupons, and in no time, nurtured a dream to one day go on a bike trip to one of the world’s highest motorable roads. Upon realising that only Sky can help her turn this dream into a reality, Mahi gets aboard the idea of this dangerous bike trip.
Joining the duo on this trip next is automobile mechanic Uzma (Dia Mirza), who couldn’t have asked for a better chance in life to show to her husband that she, too, deserves to follow her aspirations. Lastly, when an extremely guarded Manjari (Sanjana Sanghi), who has been pressured by her single mother to settle for an arranged marriage without even meeting her to-be-groom, sees an opportunity to live her life one last time, she laps it up without any second thoughts.
How the four face all the struggles, yet don’t give up on their journey, and how the most difficult roads lead them to the most beautiful destination of their life, is what forms the crux of Dhak Dhak.
Dhak Dhak needed better editing
The story co-written by Parijat Joshi and Anvita Dutt follows a simplistic screenplay without complicating it much. Though, at places, it does look patchy and inconsistent, especially in its pace. The first half brilliantly sets the premise, and gives adequate attention to the story of each of these four protagonists.
At 2 hours 17 minutes, the film could have been edited a bit more crisply. It slows down quite often, and especially in the second half, gets a tad stretched. Despite that flaws, the conviction and determination that these four actors showcase just lifts up the whole story. Sure it could have had more depth and grip on the narrative, but for most part, Dhak Dhak succeeds in keeping you invested in each of these four tales.
The performances are earnest
Ratna, a seasoned performer, brings her experience and finesse, and as a matriarch of a Punjabi family, she is so endearing and a delight to watch. The way she keeps the quartet together fills your heart with joy, giving you hope that age is never a hindrance, if you decide to live your dreams.
Fatima is quite impressive in this bold and daring act, and as the in-charge leading the pack to their destination, she exudes immense confidence and power. Dia as a Muslim wife suffering at the hands of her shauhar (husband) is a slightly stereotypical portrayal, not problematic though. Sanjana, is perhaps the weakest written character of the four, but holds her own and delivers an earnest performance in whatever she gets to do.
Dhak Dhak also has several heartwarming moments, when these women seeks solace and comfort in a stranger, and a piece of advice from the person helps them navigate ahead. Sky’s heart-to-heart with a monk, Manjari’s rescue moment with a truck driver, who tells her to look for solutions rather than focus on problems, and Mahi’s encounter with a foreigner, who helps her bike, are among the touching moments in the film.
Doesn’t opt for a preachy route to make a point
Even the sequence, when the quartet gets high on substance-laced cookies and rum, while spending a night at a lodge, has been thoughtfully written and shot. The way the four let themselves lose, discuss about orgasm, faking it, condom flavour and never being kissed, it brings out their vulnerabilities, and at the same time, letting them bare their soul and connect with each other without any inhibitions. But, one question here: Why do we always need to show women under the influence of some substance to be able to speak their mind and heart?
Besides these moments that strike a chord, there are various underline messages that the film aims at conveying and gladly, it doesn’t opt for a preachy route to make a point. For instance, when Uzma tells her husband that he should seek her consent in bed. Or when Manjari confronts her mother and expresses that she wants to be like her – independent, decisive and strong. They leave you with a thought that stays with you for long.
Dhak Dhak might have used a lot of tropes that you would see in a story about women empowerment, but it is also about a lot of things that you usually don’t associate with women. At the core, it remains a tale of this quartet, who continues to break free from the past, and dealing with the present conflicts. In the end, the four women’s desire and dream is to ride all the way up is what leaves a sense of pride and victory. Watch Dhak Dhak to experience an adrenaline rush of seeing women on bike, taking a road trip of their life, and also enjoy some scenic views of the magnificent Leh.
Film: Dhak Dhak
Cast: Ratna Pathak Shah, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanjana Sanghi
Director: Tarun Dudeja