Film Review Kalank
By Sunita Vijay
Kalank with its splendid tapestry, opulent sets and multi-star cast does not give a single moment where the extravagant experience of film-viewing doesn’t match with the perfect grandiosity of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films. The painting-like frames, overstated visuals, inordinately crafted sets and the detailed costumes are awing. Amidst all this excessive artificiality, the film has dazzling stars working in unison to perform their best under the direction of Abhishek Varman. But in the pursuit to make a perfect piece, the depth of emotions takes a back seat. Kalank is a weird film, a delightful visual ride to be enjoyed without seeking any reason or logic. It begins its journey from the colourful Rajasthani kites and lehangas to Husnabad, a fictional town near Lahore, with palatial haveli ashore a beautiful water body, to desert sand, to the oversized lotuses blooming in a canal with Venetian Gandolas, to the old-timer horse carts, beautifully handcrafted carriages, to vintage cars, to exquisite crockery to a high-end luxurious brothel to bloodshed due to communal riots; everything tastefully done to feast the eyes. Roop is emotionally forced in a strange marital bond by the ailing wife of Dev Choudhary. She comes to Husnabad as his second wife and finds herself entrapped in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the haveli. She finds some resort from this bait by learning music from Bahar Begam, who runs a brothel in Hira Mandi, an infamous red light area. There, she meets Zafar, an illegitimate abandoned child, now a blacksmith by profession. Roop’s life changes after meeting Zafar. Whether the love of a married woman to a man with illegitimate status will be named as love or Kalank is what is left to the audience’s discretion. The confused circumstances all characters find themselves struggling in, in this bungled story, the twists and turns, revelation of relationships, unravelling of old secrets, formation of new bond, dance numbers; all masala supposedly add to spice up the story. Kalank is a gripping film and does have its highs and lows. Each actor thrives in an idyllic zone in almost all the orchestrated scenes with not a strand of hair behaving careless. In the pursuit to give perfectible shots, they are made to sit appropriately with the right posture, tummy tucked in, holding on their breath, delivering dialogues that sound like proverbs – all this adds to the plastic effect. Wherever it loses steam, the intensity of emotions and impassioned dialogues and the grandeur of backdrops accelerate the momentum. Pritam’s music is outstanding especially the raag based song, ‘ghar more pardesia’ remains the most impressive number. The incandescent dialogues are evenly distributed amongst all and some are highly impactful. To mention a few, “Kuch ristey karzon ki tarah hote hain, unhe nibhana nahi chukana padata hai”, “Jab kisi aur ki barbaadi apni jeet jaisi lagti hai, toh hamse jayada barbad koi nahi ho sakta”, “Aakhon ki kashish ko palkon ke aitraaz se chhupana” and many more such philosophical preachings. Madhuri and Sanjay Dutt come together after years. Contrary to the expectation, their screen sharing is lukewarm. Madhuri, as a dancer and performer, outshines. Sanjay Dutt camouflages his layered character as Dev’s father. His shawls need a special mention and are worth seeing. Aditya Roy Kapur, as the owner and editor of Daily Times, carries a balanced and intellectual aura in his personality. Varun Dhawan does everything with ease as required of him right from shedding his kurta and exposing his sculpted body during a bull fighting sequence (a clumsy scene shot with unappealing VFX effect). His kohl eyes burn with anger and frustration when he is reminded by every second person that he’s a Naajayaz. He carries the demeanour of a Muslim ironsmith impeccably. Sonakshi Sinha looks restlessly comfortable in her shoes as Dev’s wife suffering from morbid illness. But, till her last breath, she looks resplendent except for few dark circles created under her eyes. Kunal Khemu, a man with selfish ambitions, does a brilliant job. As the main voice against the opening of arms factory by the British in Lahore, something that he resists, he is flawless. Alia Bhatt in her crackerjack performance will grab all accolades. Kalank has many copied and refurbished moments from previous films. The climax too has reflections of DDLJ. The tastefully done Dusshera scene will be admired by all when Roop is on her way to Hira Mandi to meet Begam. The unrealistic dance number by Kriti Sanon and bull riding scene should have been skipped to reduce the duration. They remain the film’s blatant weaknesses. The ending is good and Alia emotes the rightful expression in the heart-stirring scene. Kalank uncandidly depicts layers of relationships, the selfishness in humans and the meaning of pure love while it superficially touches the political climate of 1946. It speedily surfs the mood of the people in Lahore at that time when India-Pakistan was on the cusp of partition. It is one of the stories from the lives of the people who witnessed that tragic phase in the history of both the countries highlighting the strange love in the lives of four people. I personally feel, when the benign intention of the director is to make every scene look like a painting, every dialogue an updesh, every character beautiful and every attire adorned with intricate work, the movie is not worth skipping. The omnipresent traces of shots taken from Bhansali’s films and others are spread here and there throughout its long running but Abhishek Varman has done stupendous job in terms of presenting a perfecto cinematic poetry. I go with three stars.