Almost every frame spits fire in Abhishek Varman’s Kalank, it remarks the burning desire to breakthrough the norms and morals of the society. Unfortunately, Kalank succumbs itself in the reigns of “all glitters is not gold”, the burning desire falls short to ignite the narrative. “With the fire you ignited, I will burn down the city”, exclaims a character while Zafar-Roop meet in front of a burning Raavan – all indicating the dark desires of the characters. “Red is the colour of love and danger”, exclaims Zafar in a proverbial colloquy but, the tried-and-tested proceedings (remember, we’ve had Yash Chopra’s Silsila and Trishul decades ago) lack in providing warmth eventually failing to tug strings of the heart. Only if visual spectacle and extravaganza was the criteria, then Kalank is a Brobdingnagian, the meticulously designed sets and vengeful colour palette add hysteric momentum.
Set in 1945, Kalank unleashes deep-buried truths, secrets of betrayal and affairs that threaten to bring two distinct classes crashing down. In a way, it also unleashes and challenges the ideologies as well as perspectives of the society amidst the partition, religious tension as well as industrial revolution, but ends amalgamating itself into an incoherent flow. Running at 168 minutes, writer Abhishek Varman laces the narrative with few heartwarming moments especially featuring Aditya Roy Kapur and Sonakshi Sinha. Every dialogue is decorated by proverbs which gradually gets on the nerve because common man as well elite businessman speak in Mirza Ghalib-ish dictionary. Kalank is magnificently shot by Binod Pradhan (Delhi 6, Devdas) with frames posing as prolifically painted canvas – being one of the two propellers of Kalank other being the Production Design by Amrita Mahal Nakai.Kalank reveals itself in a mundane manner, like mentioned above we’ve had Yash Chopra’s Silsila (1981) and Trishul (1978) more than three decades ago. Abhishek Varman’s screenplay fails in tantalising through the illicit relationship and its repercussions, yet it achieves the emotional crescendo towards a heartwarming laced train sequence. It’s all about being prisoned within relationship, betrayal, religion, survival posed against a nation being cut into two. Even as a utopian setup, Kalank never engrosses into its time period – the soundtrack is rooted in contemporary style while the visual opulence becomes too overwhelming making you remind the worth of your ticket. Often, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s imagery were recalled from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), Devdas (2002) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), I’m terming it as a fateful inspiration. I tried to seek entertainment eventually leaned on a dialogue from the film, “The less you expect, the less you’ll be disappointed” – Abhishek Varman’s previous venture 2 States (2014) was a far better film. It unnecessarily oscillates between the timelines making one believe in the vast canvas while it travels hardly in metres, and the most problematic part is questioning, “what did you seek from the happenings?” – I suppose we’ve now overcome the perspectives challenging illicit relationship and Bollywood is still stuck with what it achieved more than three decades ago. So what’s the point? Kunal Kemmu ends up delivering the most elegant and better performance in a limited character role than the so-called stellar star cast while Aditya Roy Kapur intrigues with one-note restrained performance. While Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan fail to ignite the screens on fire with their chemistry, blame it on writing – neither of the two sync into the melodrama and opulent by overcoming the plasticity. And Sonakshi Sinha walks on similar lines of her character Paakhi from Lootera (2013).
“Ghar More Pardesiya” is meticulously and thoughtfully staged enough to draw notes, I wish rest of the film was strong enough. Kalank wants to be a labor of strong burning desire but unfortunately it doesn’t live up the proverb, “all glitters is not gold” instead it becomes a labour of meticulously designed set and masterful frames.
Language: Hindi, Urdu
Release: 17 April, 2019
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