Sadak felt like a consummate film, having made its point with clarity and closure. But perhaps there was more to say. The 1991 film is about a taxi driver in Mumbai, Ravi (Sanjay Dutt), falling in love with a girl pawned at the brothel (Pooja Bhatt playing her namesake) of the steel-heeled transgender vamp Maharani (Sadashiv Amrapurkar). It is reported that Sadak 2 takes off where Sadak ended, starring Alia Bhatt and Aditya Roy Kapur as well. It is also helmed by Mahesh Bhatt who is returning to direct a film after a two decade hiatus. His last was Kartoos in 1999.
As the digital release of Sadak 2 on Disney+Hotstar approaches, here is a photographic retrospective of the film in 10 images.
Gotya (Deepak Tijori) and Ravi are the best of friends, progeny of the street, mirroring each other in how they both fall in love with sex-workers, and fashion the back of their hair into a mullet. Here, they are seen celebrating Gotya's lover, Chanda, the street urchin's destiny of alcohol and footpath pillows, while also brotherhood and kindred company. Gotya and Chanda are killed towards the end of the film, memorialized in the love of Ravi and Pooja, a guilty weight they will always carry.
This is when Ravi first lays eyes on Pooja, lit like an angel. Finally, in his life of darkness and insomnia, haunted by the death of his sister who was also sold into sex-work, light has shone. His face is darkened with the pains of the past, lit up with the promise of a future.
Pooja is first seen with a cage where the birds refuse to leave. Ravi tells her they're safer inside – the world outside is worse; freedom always has a price. This will mirror their fate later on as Ravi and Pooja escape the brothel and Bombay.
This character has dated very poorly, confusing intersex for transgender, besides peddling harmful stereotypes associated with the transgender community. This also comes from Bhatt's universe of sex-work being without dignity, ("kothe pe jism bechne wali aurat"), which he has referenced in numerous films he wrote like Awarapan and Kajraare. But in this film she dies, thrown into the burning brothel by Ravi towards the end, and so we don't have to worry about this skirmish being repeated in Sadak 2. Alia Bhatt descibed the villain in Sadak 2 as "someone very different and totally unexpected."
Ravi is recovering from the death of his sister, insomnia and guilt induced self-hate. When his friends take him to the doctor, electric shocks are recommended. (Mental health in cinema has come a long way since then) It is this guilt that makes him want to rescue Pooja. While he does rescue her in the end, it seems that the guilt didn't subside entirely. Pooja Bhatt noted that Ravi might be afflicted with depression in Sadak 2.
The soundtrack of this movie, composed by Nadeem-Shravan, sold over 5 million units. 'Tumhein Apna Banaane Ki' was recently butchered into a Hate Story 3 remix. In one of the romantic songs, they are seen against the mountains, the imagery of which is used to promote Sadak 2. (It was the only film from Hotstar's slate to have a 'teaser poster' of a mountain with no main character in sight) In Sadak, Pooja is a 'pahadi ladki' which means she is fair and pure. The mountain connection seems to leak into the sequel.
The police officer here, who is introduced as an upstanding man, turns out to be a cog in the wheel of Maharani's tentacled control over the city. This reeks of Bhatt's disdain for institutional power. In Sadak 2, it is being reported that he takes on godmen as a corrupted institution of hope, but there hasn't been any official confirmation on this.
This is the deification of Dutt the icon, and Ravi the character. He is hung on a cross after being beaten blue by Maharani's hitmen, taking Pooja back to the brothel. From here, he is resurrected like Jesus; he takes the train back to Bombay, kills the police officer who betrayed him, and gets Pooja back from the talon-grip of Maharani, setting both the institution and the structure of the brothel aflame.
The lovers are together, the fire that is both destructive of their past, and regenerative of their future, lights them up. Look out for fire references in Sadak 2!
Bhatt's favourite conceit is of a man stuck between institutions that shackle and love that frees. This is Ravi in the final moments of the film having completed his time in prison for the righteous murders he committed.