Nagesh Kukunoor’s outstanding feature Dhanak is tale of a sister and brother who set out on a journey across Rajasthan to meet Shah Rukh Khan. It’s the simplest story that one can ever imagine, but the director’s robust grip over child psychology wins you over. This is a kind of sensitive cinematic triumph that knows no age borders.

The #Film begins innocuously enough with Chotu (Krrish Chhabria) buttoning up his shirt and tucking it in his pants. Meanwhile, his sister Pari (Hetal Gada) arrives. They share some moments of sibling love, showing concern for each other. Sadly enough, Chotu lost his eyesight and parents before the age of five.

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The orphaned children live at their paternal uncle’s (Vipin Sharma) home, which is dominated by their wicked aunt (Gulfam Khan).  

Pari wants to get Chotu’s eyesight back before his ninth birthday, which is just two months away. The narrative takes a turn when she finds an eye donation poster outside an open air cinema endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan himself. It motivates Pari to chase down Khan, who is shooting for his next feature in Jaisalmer. On the way, Pari and Chotu come across people who collectively carve a path for them towards Jaisalmer.

Out of all the people they meet, I loved the track of Flora Saini and Bharti Achrekar the most. It’s a plot point that makes Dhanak India’s very own fairy tale that can be cherished for decades. Bharti Achrekar, as the fairy godmother, keep this act gripping enough to be believable with her restrained acting prowess.

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Marinated in intoxicating colours, Dhanak starts to weave its magic right from the first frame. Writer and director Nagesh Kukunoor paints a dreamscape that is elaborately laid and magnificently framed in Rajasthani exotica. I remember being impressed by Kukunoor’s work when I watched Iqbal (2005) at the age of 13. After a hiatus of 11 years, his Dhanak has arrived that is better in terms of writing and execution than many of his films in the past decade, with an exception of Dor.

Watching Dhanak is quite an uplifting experience. It delights you with its sheer, magical palette of intoxicating dreams. Real life never looked this good. This is the life that we wish to have. Kukunoor handles the movie with a calibrated perfection, when it’s so easy to mess a film like this. Like a leisurely told naïve dream, it intoxicates you with an infectious energy.

The movie also works remarkably well because of the lead actors. Hetal Gada is absolutely luminous in the role of Pari. You can see her concern for Chotu only with a raised brow.

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On the other hand, Krrish Chhabria is a miracle who conveys a sense of freedom with his expressions. It’s a boldly realised role that is effectively carried by Chhabria on his flail shoulders with aplomb.

Apart from the performances, the expertise of Kukunoor in exploring frail human relationships will make you fall in love with DhanakOn the other hand, the cinematographer gets a perfect landscape to bring vividness to the screen. I must accept that this is certainly one of the most visually stunning Indian films that I have seen in a long time. Nagesh Kukunoor has concocted a heart-warming fairy tale that is staggeringly well-shot.

Dhanak is a small film, but powerfully so. Nagesh Kukunoor’s heart-felt storytelling strips this film of melodrama but not of emotion. #Bollywood