The new Dharma Films production Dhadak is a remake of Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi blockbuster Sairat (2016). Karan Johar’s company has bought the rights from the original producer, Zee Studios, and both companies are producing the film. Dhadak will be directed by Shashank Khaitan and will be a launchpad for second-generation star kids Ishaan Khatter (the son of Neelima Azim and Rajesh Khatter and the step-brother of Shahid Kapoor) and Jhanvi Kapoor (the daughter of Sridevi and Boney Kapoor).

A collective groan went up among fans of Sairat, Manjule’s tragic account of inter-caste romance, after Dhadak’s posters were released. Although it is very early days yet, it appears that Khaitan’s movie will be an adaptation rather than a remake. Sairat is a very tough act to follow, as the Kannada and Punjabi remakes prove. The thick flavour of the story’s small-town setting, the charm and talent of the previously untested leads, and the highly localised treatment of a universal story of star-crossed lovers defy transplantation.

One of Sairat’s pulls is the soundtrack of Ajay-Atul, who combine the spirit of Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman with an astute understanding of Marathi folk and popular musical traditions. Sairat has four songs, two of which belong in the narrative universe and two of which have been added to fulfill the movie’s self-description as a musical. Yad Lagla is a gorgeous tribute to the moment Prashant (Akash Thosar) declares his love for Archana (Rinku Rajguru). In Zingaat, Prashant and his loyal friends channel Romeo and Juliet and gatecrash a celebration being held at Archana’s house. The song’s initial synth-pop beats, with lyrics in English, seamlessly transition into folksy beats and boisterous singing that challenge the characters in the movie and the audiences in the cinemas to continue to remain seated.

Combining traditional drums with a brass section and set to difficult-to-translate lyrics that speak of the raucous joys of young love, Zingaat is one of the greatest earworms ever composed. Manjule seems to have played the song during the shoot and encouraged the assembled crowds to shake their limbs. The infectious abandon, which encouraged viewers in theatres across the country to leap out of their seats when the song came on, appears spontaneous and unrehearsed.

Zingaat works, like the rest of Sairat, because it doesn’t try too hard to be anything more than a final moment of lightness before the clouds gather over Prashant and Archana’s romance. The Kannada remake, Manasu Malligey, retains Zingaat, while the Punjabi version has its own soundtrack. There are reports that Dhadak has recruited Ajay-Atul’s services, thus ensuring that at the very least, the soundtrack will evoke memories of the original movie.

Zingaat, Sairaat (2016).