As of August 13, 2020, Sadak 2’s trailer sits with 7.8 million dislikes, making it the most disliked Indian video on YouTube.
Currently, it sits behind “Baby Shark Dance” on number 5 on the list of ‘Most Disliked YouTube Videos in the World’.
As Sadak 2 continues to amass dislikes on its trailer, I decided to revisit the 1991’s original, directed by Mahesh Bhatt.
Ever since I’ve become an adult, I have managed to watch all the movies that I wasn’t allowed to watch when I was a kid.
Immediately, my first observation of Sadak was that it had a lot of similarities to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
If Google Translate were available in the 90s, I would’ve suggested Mahesh Bhatt to just translate the entire movie in Hindi because the Indian adaptation pales in comparison to Taxi Driver.
Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s Maharani in Sadak
Bollywood has always had a representation issue. Especially when it came to the LGBT community.
Take, for instance, Ashutosh Rana’s Lajja Shankar Pandey in Sangharsh, Rishi Kapoor’s Dean Yogendra Vashishth in Student of the Year or any Bobby Darling movie ever.
Mahesh Bhatt’s Sadak also has a token transgender character called “Maharani”, portrayed by one of Marathi cinema’s finest actors, Sadashiv Amrapurkar.
He plays a brothel-owning trans person, who’s not only cunning but also drips of villainy and malice throughout the film.
The name they’ve chosen for this character is “Maharani.” Yep, that’s the name they chose.
When Maharani is recruiting one of the “new girls” into her brothel, she tries to console her by saying the following:
“Darr mat main kuch nahin karungi. Main kuch kar hi nahi sakti. Jaanti ho kyon? Kyonki main aadha mard hoon aur aadhi aurat.
(Don’t be scared, I won’t do anything. I can’t even if I try. You know why? Because I’m a half-man and a half-woman.)
Dekh naa, naa roop na rang, dekh ye kismat ka khel toh dekh. Agar kuch hain naa mere pass toh woh hain dimaag. Haan, kamaal ka dimaag hain mere pass. Isliye madon ki sewa karti hoon aur aurton ka dhandha.
(See, I neither have the complexion nor the looks. If I have something to my advantage, it’s my amazing brain. That’s why I serve the men and sell the women.)
Yaha kaa raja. Iss jisam ke bazaar ka maharaja. Aur naam, Maharani.“
(I’m the king of this place. The emperor of this flesh-selling business. And my name is Maharani [trans: Queen.])
Villainizing a community
This monologue of Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s Maharani got him the first-ever Filmfare for the Best Performance in a Negative Role.
The critics and the audiences praised Amrapurkar’s portrayal of a trans person. Even today, he’s remembered for this “iconic” role.
However, the above monologue has aged so poorly, I felt like putting a dislike on the original Sadak trailer, as well. (Just kidding)
Sadak was directed by Mahesh Bhatt, produced by Mukesh Bhatt, written by Robin Bhatt, shot by Pravin Bhatt and starred Pooja Bhatt in the lead.
The obvious observation of nepotism aside, the entire Bhatt family’s idea of a trans person was way off.
I won’t even comment on Amrapurkar’s over-exaggerated expressions and heightened enunciation.
Sadak cannot even decide on the Maharani’s pronoun. At the beginning of the monologue, Maharani uses the her/she pronoun but switches to him/he at the end. So disappointing.
After that, Sadak’s reiterates their miseducation by implying that men are meant to be served by the LGBT community.
Sadak doesn’t just stop there, it also panders to the “fair-complexion-chasing” audiences by stating that a dark-skinned person is not desirable. A problem we are facing 29 years later, as well.
Watch Sadak’s super-cringe monologue here.
While I don’t want to comment on the current hate Sadak 2 is receiving, I can confidently say that the original Sadak had potential.
The movie chose to portray the seedy underbelly of our society but the path they chose wasn’t quite right. (Pun unintended).