The movie Kedarnath is a romantic drama built on the premise of flash flood in Uttarakhand in 2013.
Uttarakhand Flood in 2013
In year 2013, on June 16th and 17th, Kedarnath (the Shiva temple built in 8th century AD in Uttarakhand, India) witnessed one of the most devastating flash flood in the history. Unusual heavy rain led to melting of Chorabari glacier and Mandakini river erupted claming thousands of lives in Uttarakhand. The overflowing river brought down huge rocks from the hills and washed away many multi-storied buildings, markets and everything on the valley… Kedarnath is a place prone to natural disasters, intensive mining, constructions, mismanaged tourism activities have unstabilized the already fragile eco-system.
Kedarnath located in a hilly region. Pilgrimages need to trek 15-16 kilometers or hire a porter reach Kedarnath temple. The porters have mules and horses, sometimes they themselves carry the pilgrimages on their back. The roads are steep and rocky… The porter community is sustaining because of the huge number of devotees coming every year to visit Lord Shiva in Kedarnath temple.
The story starts with a young porter Mansur (porter : called “Pitthu” in local language). His customer was an old lady, whom he had to carry on his back to Kedarnath temple. The old lady was accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law. Mansur’s mule would carry their luggage, he himself would carry the elderly woman on his back.
The old lady started complaining as the porter wasn’t a Hindu. It might not be a new thing to Mansur, with a charming smile on his face he took her on his back and started trekking. The roads are made out of rocks and quite steep…
The porters have to go up and down this road several times a day with heavy load on their backs. Extremely difficult job, but they do it with a smile
The old lady was afraid of the steepness, Mansur reassured her with shouting “Glory to Lord Shiva”!
To be honest I don’t know whether the porters in Kedarnath actually do that or not irrespective of their religious beliefs. But as I have visited some temples in India, I can understand how deeply the local communities feel connected to the temples. Where pilgrims become the means of livelihood to thousands of people for generations, the people grow a different sentiment towards it.
I got the same feeling when I read Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s auto-biography. He grew up in Rameswaram and he was friend with the son of Rameswaram temple’s head priest. It was distinct from his writing how the temple was an inseparable part of his childhood…
Mansur sneaked into the grocery store owned by his mother and got some laddoos for the lady… that’s when Mansur’s mother came out and started scolding him!
“Manage to get some money back home as well! Don’t spend all the earnings on the customers only!”
Finally Mansur dropped his customer at the gate of temple, he took a selfie with the family, rung the bell of the temple and went away.
Mansur dropping his customers right at the gate of temple was not taken well by some people. Ringing the temple bell was a token of gratitude from him towards Lord Shiva for bringing another customer to him. Mansur was Muslim indeed but his devotion towards Lord Shiva was not less than any Hindu.
The pandits (priest community), porters and other locals met together to discuss about bringing even more visitors to Kedarnath. Some of people in the priest families looked at this a chance to get rich but they represented the proposal as beneficial for all. Mansur stood up and opposed… Over-commercialization of a temple was after all is a disgrace to the God himself. Also Kedarnath’s already fragile ecosystem may fall apart because of the extra load.
Kullu, the nephew of the head priest was angry at Mansur for his genuine concern. He cut him off saying, “You would not understand the devotion” (as you’re a Muslim). “We will help more people to visit Shiv ji and that would help everyone…”
It was so immature of him to bring up religion. Mansur was quick to silent everyone explaining why religion wasn’t the appropriate argument here. Generation after generation, they have served the devotees, carried them on their backs, singed Lord Shiva’s glory on top of their lungs- how could they have any less devotion of the Lord?!
Then we meet Mandanini (Mukku), the younger daughter of one of the priests. Mukku was a girl of different taste… She watched Cricket matches and rebuked the opposition with abundance of bad words! As her father switched off the TV in their house she managed to find a seat in front of another TV set, where all the guys were enjoying the match in a small shop. This is where she met Mansur…
Rambara was a small place, Mukku and Mansur’s paths crossed again and again. Mansur’s simplicity and charm didn’t go unnoticed by Mukku. She used to hire his ride to go to nearby places… In other words, she was looking for opportunities make friend with him.
First few days, Mansur was reserved, he did his job as much professionally as possible. But Mukku was not somebody to give up so easily. She was a chatter-box. Instead of Mansur, she started having a conversation with the mule!
Days went by, Mukku and Mansur got closer and closer. The small meet every day was mandatory for them. Mansur was not an outspoken person but he used to wait for Mukku eagerly everyday…
Mukku was already engaged with Kullu, the nephew of the head priest. Mukku was never into him, not even before meeting Mansur. When Mukku’s elder sister Brinda came to know about Mansur, she was afraid of the the inevitable end of the inter-faith relationship.
Pandits are the highest caste in Hindu, do not even marry people from other castes in the same religion- forget about considering people of other faith!
Brinda warned Mansur to stay away from her sister as their father would never approve of their relationship. Mansur was shattered into thousand pieces, he cried piteously and accepted this to be his destiny. He started ignoring Mukku and denied to give her ride…
Mukku couldn’t bear his sudden silence… She followed him everywhere and sat at the gate of his house in rain. Mansur knew how stubborn Mukku was. She was drenched to the bone, shivering uncontrolably but detemined. In high fever she lost her sense and Mansur could not help bringing her home and cover her with blanket.
Kullu, her fiance was furious after knowing this and informed Mukku’s father. They all came to Mansur’s house… For a personal avenge Kullu wanted to blame all the Muslim porters living there.
Mukku was taken home, her father did the ritual of penance on her… Mukku stayed calm and followed her father’s words. But when her father said that she could never be with Mansur, even if the world falls apart, Mukku replied, “Then I would pray day and night for that apocalypse…”
Mukku was married off to Kullu the very next day and she slit her wrist just after the marriage. Kullu on the other hand, went to chase Mansur.
It was raining heavily and everybody was looking for shelters.
In a sudden cloud burst, everything flooded away, Mansur sent his mom to safe location and stayed back to help others. He couldn’t go away without seeing Mukku. He searched her everywhere, her house fell apart in the flood and nobody was there…
Finally he met her in the Kedarnath temple where hundreds of people took refuge. In a flash of light everything was under water but Mansur managed to hold her hand.
When the water flowed down, they all had to evacuate immediately. They saw a rescue helicopter, Mansur helped everyone to climb the rope. When only two people were left, the helicopter started giving signs of overloading and Mansur decided to stay back… He let the other guy go as his kid was crying for him in the helicopter. In fraction of seconds, the surface where he was standing collapsed and river Mandakini engulfed him on her way…
Mandakini was Mukku’s real name. On that night of terror and misfortune, Mansur united with the other Mandakini-the devastating one!
Everything was destructed but the main temple stayed in its place… Govt. rebuilt the area again in a more sustainable architecture. Mukku returned with her father to her home, radio was playing Mansur’s favorite song… “Lag ja gale”… (Embrace me)
Why Kedarnath reminds me of Hollywood Blockbluster Titanic?
I would not say Kedarnath did as great as Titanic on the box-office. Yet I find some good similarities-
- Both have the plot around a disastrous incidient.
- Where Titanic built the story around the passengers of Titanic and the ships glorifying look- Kedarnath showcased the cultural atmosphere around the temple of Lord Shiva.
- Titanic had Rose and Jack, whose love wasn’t approved by others and Rose had an evil fiance.
Similarly here we got Mukku and Mansur, they were madly in love – coming from different faith. Mukku too had an evil fiance. Oh I hate that guy so much!!
- I have watched Titanic so many times… I still can’t believe the scenes were made with special effects!
The VFX team of Kedarnath did a commendable job for sure, all the scenes showcasing the severity of the disaster was nothing less than real. I have seen the actual clips of the flood on news channel where it happened in 2013…
My final thoughts on the movie-
Kedarnath is Sara Ali Khan’s debut movie. The movie is decent. The natural beauty of Kedarnath will soothe your eyes. The movie hinted towards over-commercialization of such a delicate place, the unplanned constructions and mining have made the place even more susceptible to natural disasters…
I don’t think it is promoting or defaming inter-faith relations – many people boycotted the movie for all the wrong reasons. Yes it has the element of the drama to make an emotional impact on the audience, certainly better than many over the top romantic stories!
Mukku is like any other teeange girl.
Mansur is too good to be real! Sushant has done justice to his role of Mansur… There’s a shyness and a grace in Mansur’s character- which makes him so different from other Bollywood heroes. I have grown up watching heroes that are overly outspoken, stalk the heroine to her school/college/home, propose in the most dramatic way, promise to anything and everything!!
Mansur’s innocence, generosity won Mukku’s heart without any effort! For a pure soul like him, it was most likely that he would sacrifice his life happily in order to save others.
I couldn’t bear to watch Mansur’s death, it was reminding me of Sushant’s sudden and unexpected death in June, 2020.
After watching the movie I had watched several interviews of the real-life survivors of the flash flood. The movie seemed quite accurate showing the temple scene. When the water was raising alarming 200-300 people took shelter inside the Kedarnath temple, suddenly water flowed inside the temple breaking the main doors open, the water reached up to 7 ft. or so, But flowed down in 7-10 seconds and people were left in deep dark mud.
The survivor also told how quickly they had to get out of the temple in search of a safer place, the people who stayed back drowned to death.
Overall Kedarnath is a good movie, most of its songs are really really good. I have listened to Quafirana and Jaan Nisaar more than 100 times and still can’t get over them.
“Kai Po Che” (2013) was Sushant’s first film. He also starred in Shuddh Desi Romance(2013), PK(2014), Detective Byomkesh Bakshy(2015), M. S. Dhoni the untold story(2016), Raabta, Drive, Sonchiriya, Chhichhore (2019) and Dil Bechara(2020). Dil Bechara is Sushant’s last film that released after his death.