Kalank is not a kalank (blemish/disgrace) as you might have read in some reviews by now. Kalank is a beautiful take on the spontaneity of forbidden love, and the very helplessness of it that might mess up everything else in one’s mundane existence. At the outset, lower your expectations of Kalank that might have been raised because of the promos. Only then, it might be an enjoyable watch.
Yes, it is dramatic. But the script demands it. What is art without drama? Kalank reminds you of many movies at its many junctures. It is not an entirely fresh concept, not a spectacular movie but definitely a Partition story good enough in its own right as it delves into the psyche of communalism and into the ignition of riot mentality. Like quintessential Partition movies, there is violence, loss and nostalgia in Kalank as well. In addition, it shows the culture of Lahore, especially that of the small town of Husnabad and its aesthetic beauty.
Kalank is a mature take on relationships. The terminally ill wife of Dev Choudhury, Satya (Sonakshi Sinha) loves her husband so unconditionally that she insists on his second marriage to Roop (Alia Bhatt) because she is apprehensive about his well-being after her death. Roop marries Dev out of responsibility towards her sisters and Dev marries Roop because of his love for Satya. The beauty of the forced relationships is that they slowly emerge out of their restrictions and gain a new freedom.
Some critics saying there isn’t any story in Kalank, is questionable. There is definitely a concrete storyline, not entirely compelling though. Revenge in Hindi cinema is clichéd and so is the illegitimate child and his problems in societal acceptance. Kalank adds to it a dash of religious conflict. Nevertheless, the treatment of revenge in a complex quagmire of relationships and extra-marital affairs in Kalank is riveting.
Prostitution is not an unprecedented subject in Bollywood. Madhuri Dixit as Bahaar Begum reminds you instantly of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Chandramukhi and when she refuses to leave Husnabad, her stubbornness unmistakably brings Begum Jaan to your senses. Bahaar Begum may not be as fascinating a character as Chandramukhi or Begum Jaan but she comes across as a vulnerable woman whose misfortune, as usual, is a product of circumstances of a patriarchal society. It would not be wrong to label Madhuri in this movie as a personification of grace and poise. Her dancing prowess, especially her unmatched expressions and the 30 continuous twirls in Tabaah Ho Gaye, would put any young actor of this generation to shame. For all Madhuri fans there, who are planning to see the movie just because of her: at 51 Madhuri is irreplaceable and she rocks! One wonders if Sridevi, who was initially signed for the role of Bahaar Begum, could have essayed it any better!
Aditya Roy Kapur as journalist Dev Chaudhry is convincing. Abhishek Varman is able to scoop out the vulnerability of Roop by perfectly casting Alia in the role. And one wished the ailing Satya had a few more moments to breathe! Varun Dhawan as Zafar is likeable and detestable at the same time. And yes, he overacts at times. But he definitely puts life into the songs he is featured in.
Bollywood needs to grow up when it comes to technical aspects. The entire bull fight sequence seemed fakely staged. It would remind you of George Tillman Jr’s “The Longest Ride”, where bull fights were done so naturally. One wishes that stunt director Sham Kaushal had taken some lessons on the portrayal of bull riding/fighting scenes.
All the songs are melodious. The dance sequences, especially Tabaah Ho Gaye and Ghar More Pardesi are spectacular. The title track leaves a lingering romance in your mind. On a casual note, Aditya Roy Kapoor looks sizzling hot as never before, Alia’s costumes are to die for, Madhuri’s twirls in Tabaah Ho Gaye are not to be missed!
In short, the movie weaves a dream. White is the predominant colour in the film; perhaps a deliberate attempt to showcase a foil to the colour black usually associated with a kalank. The sets and the costumes overwhelm your artistic consciousness.
Overall, a one-time watch. Not a movie that you would like to revisit too often. But definitely not a flop.