Let me set the record straight before we begin : What is the film about?
Jaggi played by Sunny Kaushal meets Kartika played by Radhika Madan at a sports camp. Former’s a hockey player, latter’s a swimmer. One fine day, the boys plan to “warm up their eyes” by the poolside as the girls train. And as Kartika comes out of the pool after her laps, Jaggi finds herself to be the equivalent of a “jalpari”(mermaid.) And that is all it takes to evoke “Shiddat” in him.
As the boys led by our hero i.e., the tallest guy with a beard, Jaggi, gatecrash a wedding, he overhears a romantic toast by the groom addressing his bride talking of destiny and how he would have gone anywhere for her because it was meant to be. And Jaggi is swept by this. He engraves it into his mind. So when he lays eyes on the mermaid(Kartika) the speech sets on loop in his mind.
Jaggi is a light-hearted guy who believes a hookup is never a hookup but it has to mean something. He believes in trying even if the initial response is a clear no. He doesn’t budge, shows up uninvited at places and wears his heart on his sleeve.
Kartika is a swimmer, who wears cool jackets, needs a lot of training in her sport and doesn’t think things like a hookup, too seriously. They are things “that happen.”
So as they meet and Jaggi pushes for friendship and Karitika initially pushes him away sending all the right singals that she isn’t interested, has a sudden change of heart when she feels attracted on noticing Jaggi’s free-flowing spirit(like most stalkers are). And it soon develops into a friendship, that’s transformed into a party-romatic single song, leading to a night of coitus.
Naturally, Jaggi has feelings attached by now but it all comes shattering when Kartika breaks it up as she reveals she’s already getting married in London in 3 months time. But on enough persistence, Kartika promises that if in three months, Jaggi can come to London before her wedding, she’ll cancel it.
Our hero, is about to turn on the Shiddat mode, right about now.
A lot of Shiddat went into scouting locations for the film. From Punjab to Calais to London, they are serene places where the coming events occur.
This is a 2 and half hour watch. And nothing much really happens. There’s no concrete story-telling because there isn’t a big story. The story is as big as a decent sized paragraph, like this one. Mohit Raina and Diana Penty play the couple whose wedding Jaggi crashes before the events are set in motion. And to be honest, their story arch has much more meat for the actors to dive into, as they start off a happy couple but living in Paris they grow apart due to solid reasons that we would have loved to see on the screen.
On the other hand, we don’t know what Jaggi does for a living. He had plans to play hockey for the national team but after spotting Kartika, not once do we know of his life other than that. So we’re assuming he has given up everything. Jaggi smuggles himself across borders trying to reach London but gets held up as an illegal immigrant at Calais.
As Jaggi is set up for deoprting back to India, he is reunited with Gautam(Mohit Raina), who is an officer of the Indian government, in charge of sending Jaggi back. Jaggi displays no sign of worry with respect to the trouble he is in. He has burnt up his passport, has traveled illegally across borders but there’s not one sign of worry that any normal person would suffer from, irrespective of how much love you are in or how much passion you posses. He hails Gautam as his romantic hero, reminiscing over his speech but Gautam’s love life isn’t that rosy at all. There are differences between him and Ira and he schools Jaggi on rationality and practicality but our hero instead motivates him to mend his differences with his wife.
As time nears by for the Kartika’s wedding, Jaggi escapes the security of Gautam’d gaze, puts on a wet suit and goggles and plunges himself into the English Channel, attempting to swim his way to England. And mind you, this character was just learning swimming an hour back at a sports camp under Kartika. So, well, he fails at crossing the English Channel.
At its core, it can be understood that love knows no boundaries and no borders and under its influence people tend to react the unusual way but Shiddat is a film miles away from the realm of sensibility. It tries to float on filmy, dreamy dialogues spewed into the air with no instances of reality. Completely out of balance, the film has moments of conviction and convincing power, when we delve into Gautam and Ira’s tale.
Shiddat would have been much better if Jaggi was given a life except for just trying to get across borders and if Kartika didn’t dissaaper after a few laps in the pool.
Locations can’t help a story and that should be a lesson well learnt by now.
The film has been directed by Kunal Deshmukh and is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.