Kunal Deshmukh’s Shiddat opens with a wedding reception where the groom Gautam (Mohit Raina) talks about Rooh Maska, an heirloom ring that guides a lover to his dreamgirl. He gives it to his wife Ira (Diana Penty) and tells her that he would have found her in any corner of the world. She is his kismat—his destiny. A wedding crasher Joginder, also known as Jaggi (Sunny Kaushal), gets so inspired by the speech that he risks his life to find the love of his life Kartika (Radhika Madan). He takes the journey across the land, the sea, and the air and makes every effort possible to be with her.
Shiddat is, essentially, about how far someone can travel for love. It is about the distance that one has to travel to find their love. Jaggi is detained in France while trying to sneak in a truck to England. The Indian government officer assigned to identify him turns out to be Gautam. Jaggi has a habit of coming uninvited to places, remarks Gautam. Jaggi tells him that the words that he had spoken at his own wedding became his talisman in life to find Kartika. His visa application to England was rejected, and he had no other option but to take the illegal route. He then adds, “Ek hi haath ki toh doori hai.” In a beautiful moment, he puts his hand on the map of the world, covering the distance between India and England. The physical distance does not matter to Jaggi. A distance of six thousand kilometers is equivalent to the distance between the fingers of his hand. And, he will make every effort to cross that distance, even if it means risking his life in the process. Moments later, Gautam drives Jaggi to his home. On the way, they see the English Channel. “Paaji, woh wahaan kya hai,” asks Jaggi. “Darya hai, aur kya,” replies Gautam. Across the darya lay the town of Dover in England. A fascinated Jaggi gets down from the car and measures the distance across the sea with his thumb, like the earlier moment where he used his hand. “Angoothe ki doori bachi hai,” he says. It’s just a thumb’s distance away now for him. Twenty miles in the sea are nothing for him, again underscoring that physical distance for him is never insurmountable. Later in the film, Jaggi invokes the legend of Sohni-Mahiwal where Sohni goes swimming across Chenab every night to meet her lover Mahiwal. Jaggi will also try to swim across the English Channel to meet Kartika.
At the other end lies Kartika. She, too, has to cover the distance, but it is the emotional distance from her mind to her heart. She needs to make up her mind and cancel her wedding. She needs to decide if she wants to live a life for her family or a life of her own. She needs to choose if she is a realist or a romantic. For her, walking the final ten steps are as hard as Jaggi’s 10,000 steps.
Then, there is the other couple, Gautam and Ira, in whose story, too, the film keeps reinforcing the theme of distance. They got married. They moved to France. He is an officer of the Indian government, while she is an activist. Differences crop up between them. She sees red, green, violet, and blacks, but he only sees blue. During their fight, she tells him, “I love you, too, Gautam, but I don’t like you anymore. I just don’t like you anymore.” She moves out and files for divorce. But Gautam does not do anything to placate Ira. He does not try to sort out the issues that came up between them. While Jaggi takes the journey across continents for love, Gautam does not even travel forty feet. Now, Jaggi becomes the one who inspires Gautam to fight for his love. “Sarhadein toh hum dono ko hi paar karni hai. Safar toh dono ka hi lamba hai,” he tells him when he escapes again. We both have to cross some borders. We both have a long way ahead of us. The theme of distance is also mentioned in the film’s title track. “Kyun yeh hadein hain, kyun yeh sarhadein hain, itne kyun hai faasle, manzil teri meri jab ek hai toh, kyun hai alag raaste.” Why are we bound by limitations? Why are we restricted by boundaries? Why do we have so much distance between us? When our destination is the same then why are our paths different?
Early in the film, Kartika mentions Shah Rukh Khan and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, where she says that she will cancel her wedding in “DDLJ-style” if Jaggi still feels love for her. I kept wondering if there is a theme of Shah Rukh Khan associated with the film. In Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Raj travels from England to India while it is the reverse direction here. The film’s title is taken from another famous dialogue from one of Shah Rukh Khan’s films Om Shanti Om, which Jaggi also says, “Kehte hain kisi cheez ko agar shiddat se chaho, toh saari kaynaat use tumse milane me lag jaati hai.” Then, at some other point, Jaggi mentions to Gautam that he has become Devdas. The scenes between Gautam and Ira are a bit reminiscent of Chalte Chalte and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.
Sunny Kaushal makes the film eminently watchable. I loved the scene when Jaggi goes to buy the yellow dress for Kartika. The owner asks for the size that he is looking to buy. Jaggi calls Kartika, but her cellphone’s battery runs out. Left with no option, Jaggi imagines her in his arms and comes up with her measurements. It was also how he has fallen in love with her in his imagination with no actual confirmation from Kartika. Seeing this, Gautam starts missing Ira. He goes to the place where she works and takes food from there. I wish there was more of the story of Gautam and Ira. I find films about conflicts between married couples to be fascinating. Radhika Madan is miscast, or maybe it was her character, as we never saw that passion in her. There is more camaraderie between Jaggi and Gautam.
In his quest for love, Jaggi behaves irresponsibly all the time. He thought he could cross the freezing sea on his own without any help. He does not realize that even Sohni had used an earthen pot for swimming across the Chenab when she went to meet Mahiwal. He falls from a plane, which is disturbing as it almost mirrored some real-life scenes from the events in Afghanistan. He used to say, “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.” His death, too, comes from a great fall. At every stage of his journey, he got lucky. But, after a point, even the kaynaat stopped helping him. The Rooh Maska ring did not lead him to his dreamgirl. He did not have in his destiny to watch the moon with his beloved. Love does not have to be rational or logical all the time, but it also does not have to be foolish all the time.
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