Kalank Movie Review: Looks Nice, Needs A Little Salt And Spice

Kalank Movie Review Poster

Kalank Movie Review

Turbulent first half almost plays spoilsport.

Kalank Movie Review | Analysis

Kalank is set during the times of partition of India, around 1945-47, in a fictional place called Husnabad, near Lahore. The film starts by introducing us to a cheerful and bubbly girl, Roop, through a beautifying song, which thoroughly tries to sell Roop as a very attractive girl. The song and dance sequences try to elaborate on her beauty through slow-motion running shots, slow-motion zoom-in shots of her smiling, raising her eye brows, etc.  Roop (Alia Bhatt) is the central character of the film, the supposedly very beautiful girl, as her name suggests.

The narration is quite jumbled in the first half of Kalank. And, the film in its effort at beautification, mostly forgets about at the subject at hand and only occasionally remembers to give us a few good sequences. The problem is with the initial part of the storytelling where characters straight up hit the screen with their respective songs, and indulge in conversation with the other characters which also haven't been properly seated in the story, yet. Three songs into the film, and it's still not clear what is going on, the flow of the story is still quite turbulent, and by the time it gets streamlined, you just get to appreciate the looks of the film, like, the locations, shiny colourful costumes, sets and the vivid colours, predominantly red and its various shades, that the film decorates the screen with. And, the made-to-look-good characters, like, Roop, with her long beautiful flowing hair, elegant clothes and a miniature bird-cage ear-ring; Zafar, with his shampooed dark-black silky hair, kohl lined eyes and painted abs. I mean, the film is definitely enchanting and well shot, and every frame of the film is very artistic and looks very eye pleasing, but the storytelling suffers from abruptness, and the unnecessary back-and-forth narration further adds to the woes. Some of the scenes are already disconnected with each other, and the film decides to go back-and-forth in time, with whatever intentions, but have definitely backfired. And, it also reduces the intrigue and tension in the climax portion, because you already know that Roop is going to be safe.

Kalank, in the initial part, fails to firmly set the premise for the rest of the film to be built around it. The film doesn't clearly convey the basic setting of the film, and instead seems more interested in astonishing us through its attractive visuals. The starting scenes involving Roop and Satya needed to be more clearer, to let the audience know what exactly is going on. The film doesn't offer any explanation to some of the dialogues and intentions of its characters, even after the film ends.

Like, for example, Why did Satya initially wanted Roop to be in their house only for one year? and not after that? What did Satya wanted Roop to do in her house? Because, Satya did not go to Roop asking her to be Dev (Satya's husband)'s  wife. It was Roop who said, unless she is married to Dev, she ain't coming to their house. So, Satya initially had no plans to get Roop married to Dev. It was only after Roop insisted. So, what was Satya's initial intention? The film wasn't clear about that. It just wanted to bring Roop to Husnabad and be done with it. The portion of Satya coaxing Roop, just felt like an excuse that the film was using to get Roop to Husnabad, so that she could fall in love with Zafar.

Zafar (Varun Dhawan) is a fan of real life Sanjay Dutt, who has no counts of the women he slept with. He is shocked to hear that Dev has slept with only one woman in his life, his own wife. Zafar is a blacksmith by profession, and fights bulls on occasion. But, once Roop and Zafar meet, you know what's coming up. And, you are just waiting for the doomsday to arrive. Even the surprise plot twist on Zafar's background and his intentions doesn't quite change the end result. It does add a little spice to the story, which otherwise was bland till now. But, Zafar and Roop's love story is not really heart-touching and strong enough to for you to care about it, and neither of them appeared to be deeply in love with each other, and you feel that they can give-up on each other easily. Pretty crumbleable love story, not very solidly constructed. Sure, Zafar had his own motivations early on, but Roop's love was supposed to be pure and passionate, but only feels so in just a few scenes in the second half and in the climax, otherwise her love towards Zafar mostly feels like an infatuation.

The second half of the film is quite sorted out with respect to its narration, and the film feels smoothly flowing forward, unlike the jittery first half. Also, because you get used to the film's pace and storytelling. And, the film really ups the ante towards the end, and finishes on a high note. Abdul, the leader of a local pro-partition political party, played by actor Kunal Khemu, adds the much needed 'looming threat' feel to the film as it nears the climax. Kunal through his demeanour and expressions appeared really menacing, and made the end of the film memorable along with good performances by Aditya Roy Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. The second half, specially the last 30 mins, is the only time where the film gives you something to hold on to, so that you can continue watching. Otherwise, in the first half, even after an hour into the film, there isn't much that will make you to continue watching the film.

The mood shifts in the film are rapid sometimes, and scenes and songs hit the screen out of no where. Like, for example, just after the serious part involving Roop, Satya and Balraj Choudary; Varun Dhawan suddenly hits the screen with his song and dance! I mean, just a couple of scenes back Roop was trying to commit suicide. The transition isn't smooth, and the film isn't sensitive and emotional towards its characters, and instead comes across as rude and careless. This abruptness raises its ugly head like blackheads and pimples on a smooth skin. Even the bullfighting scene involving Zafar is sudden, and just comes across as a filler forced into the film, so that it can be used as a material for publicity, by adding it into the film's trailers and posters. Otherwise, the bullfighting part has no purpose and foundation, and is hilarious instead.

Even with its 168 minutes long run time, some of the portions are undercooked, the interpersonal relationships are underdeveloped, and the main characters, Roop and Zafar, lack the required emotional depth, and as a result some of the important and crucial scenes end-up being ineffective. Like, Roop trying to kill herself because her wish to learn music from Bahar Behum of Heera Mandi was refused, is an important scene which tries to convey that she is being confined in a golden cage. But, the scene hits the screen without any prelude, and just fails as a result. And, instead will make you think 'Mental hai kya'? I mean, the film earlier to this scene doesn't make any attempt to showcase that Roop is trapped and her freedom is being shackled. Instead, Roop arrives at their place just a couple scenes before, and in the next scene she has a conversation with Satya, and in the next scene she is trying to kill herself?!

The first half of the film is mostly devoted to songs, grandeur and fillers like the bullfighting scene, instead of effective storytelling and character development. And these half-empty characters take a long time to emotionally fill themselves up by either through the actors' performances playing them, or just by virtue of the forward moving story. Kalank had a lot of potential to be an amazing film, but, here it is lost in its own beauty. The director of this film, Abhishek Varman, who is only in his second film as a director, may have been overburdened by such a grand scale of production and the huge star cast to handle. Abhishek Varman's first film as a director was the 2014 HIT film '2 States'.

The dialogues in some parts of the film are stiff and feel artificial. Like, for example, the conversation between Roop and Satya, regarding Roop wanting to learn music/singing from Bahar Begum of Heera Mandi. Felt like they are uttering their lines, as it is, straight out of a novel.

Coming to the overall acting performances, Sonakshi Sinha, according to me, did the best job with her role as Satya. She sold Satya so effectively, that she lifted a sagging film, and also made the other characters around her look good. Varun Dhawan did a good job as well, and so did Alia Bhatt, but, she wasn't convincing as Roop. Sure, she was cute and good looking throughout the film, but not enough Roop to play Roop, is what I felt.

But, all is well that ends well? A better and largely sorted out second half, and a good ending laced with good, believable, heart-touching performances that lift the film out of its mediocrity, and as a result, Kalank ends up looking as an above average film. The background music is very pleasing and lingers in our mind long after we have finished watching the film. The music is also one of the reasons the film is a watchable above-average product. And, full marks for the creating such amazing visuals.

Overall, Kalank is a beautiful piece of artwork, which slightly falters in its narration and screenplay, but, is certainly watchable. Kalank is a slow-paced dialogue-oriented serious-drama, which takes its own time to get going. If are not into such movies, then Kalank is not for you.

ALSO SEE - Kalank All Critic Reviews & Ratings

Rating - 3/5

- Review by Aditya.

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