wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?) - unless you can watch a movie just for well-done grandeur
A reasonably complex plot for a love triangle spoiled by shifting focus from the details in the story to reasonably well-done grandeur and opulence. Results in a play-like set-up without due regard for nuance.Read more
For a good ol’ love triangle, Kalank has a complex basic plot which would be difficult to articulate in one simple sentence. And it has fairly grey characters too. The two options for any one person actually are viable, good options. Unfortunately, the story development takes a hit because the vision to create a rich visual experience takes precedence. For now though, I prefer this to no plot and only grand visuals.
We are used to a sequence squeezing itself into our Hindi films just because. But, with such poor CGI? Why?
The issue then is that Kalank reminds you so deeply and continuously of every Sanjay Leela Bhansali film that you have seen. I even caught myself wondering how many more dances a particular song would have in one of his films or what colour palate would he have picked. Not that Kalank is not gorgeously framed. It absolutely is. The colours are delicious; maybe the compositions could have been better. But it’s just that Bhansali’s presentations never quite left my mind. And in comparison, this looked too staged, too theatrical with good-but-cheaper clothes and jewellery.
What Kalank then becomes is a love story with potential that is undone by the inability to capture emotions but has good-but-not-the-best visuals. In fact, the film begins with an emotional disconnect. Even if you ignore the weird lip-sync in the songs that are really disorienting in the beginning, you are trying to figure out why this woman, Satya (Sonakshi Sinha) wants this specific woman, Roop (Alia Bhatt) to marry her husband, Dev (Aditya Roy Kapoor). Why her? Similarly, even as you watch Roop engaging herself in a job, a hobby, other relationships, there is a distance between you and her that never quite goes away. None of the other characters come close to you either. The film doesn’t dig deeper into any of the relationships. Even the characters’ own beliefs seem superficial because they are either only said and not shown or what is shown seems rather cursory.
The billing order in the opening credits reflects this attitude somewhat. While I am happy that the women are getting credit, it is weird for Sonakshi Sinha’s name to appear before Varun Dhawan’s in this one. Even Kunal Khemu had a role longer and more relevant than Sonakshi. I guess we have to be thankful that at least the women are not entirely irrelevant in the story. It is a start to have the women characters lured into doing something they don’t want to do with a job and a hobby. If only this were taken further, deeper. If only.
It is some condolence then that this treatment is even through the film. Even the main issues like the social construct at the time of partition, the Hindu-Muslim divide aren’t dug deeper into. Same goes for the title itself. For a title that means taboo/stigma, the depiction of the era doesn’t fit with what I understand of that era. Also, the ‘losing face and honour’ is rather convenient through the film. When it suits the story, things are a big no-no, else women are breaking the rules set in the own movie without anyone raising an eyebrow. I am not even referring to what I know were big no-nos at the time, like women showing off their mid-riff in a dance sequence or a man and a woman talking to each other openly on the streets.
I prefer this to no plot and only grand visuals.
And then you have these weird sequences like a bullfight which has little to do with the main story. That, we are used to in Hindi films, a sequence squeezing into the film just because. But, with such poor CGI? Why? Similarly, the film is filled with enough songs to make you feel like it is a musical, but none of the songs stays with you—neither the ears nor the eyes--despite decent lyrics.
The dialogue is decent too. Kalank is sprinkled with one-line insights that might seem like they are heavy-handed. At the same time though, they make you feel that the characters are aware of their own situation and are sensitive to what is going on around them. In fact, they are good enough to even make the perfunctory performances pass off as good ones, despite a lacking hold on the Urdu diction by some of them. While there’s no over-acting or wooden-acting as such, none of the able and reliable cast members is adequately challenged either. The talent we know they have shines in a one-off scene that is almost written for them--like when Madhuri Dixit dances or when you can see the drain on energy when one has to hold one’s own in an Aalia Bhatt scene.
In that sense, Kalank can be watched for its overall decent attempt at creating a visual experience, at taking the story beyond its usual one-line plot level, at paying some attention to character-writing and dialogue.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...I came away from Kalank as unhappy as the main characters. No, I didn’t enjoy the film. But the lack of enjoyment did not diminish my admiration for the film’s innate beauty . Kalank looks beautiful and feels uncompromised. But it did not move me as much as it should have.... full review
Thumbs up, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Kalank is a fabulously mounted film with great performances. If you can overlook the length, it will be a good watch. This has to be one of Varun Dhawan's best.... full review
Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...The lead cast — Aditya, Sonakshi, Kunal, Sanjay and Madhuri – are good. But it is the young ones — Alia and Varun — who shine. Also, since the novelty of their acting is still there, these two leave a deeper impact than their seniors.... full review
Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Still, Kalank is likely to be the most visually stunning film you will see this year. Besides, Bahaar Begum has given me a line that I am dying to throw at the next boring person I meet – kal ayyiyega, filhal is guftugu se thak gaye hain hum. That’s a keeper. I’m going with three stars.... full review
Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Kalank has unmistakable contemporary resonance because it celebrates the transformative power of love and reconciliation in a time of rampant discord. It is worth a viewing not only for what it says, but also for how it says it.... full review
Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...This is exactly the reason why the film is recommended. It doesn’t make for an easy breezy watch but the effort shows on screen and so is the lure of catching hold of a very interesting storyline.... full review
Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...At 2 hours and 48 minutes, with a tighter edit the story could have wrapped up much sooner though. 'Kalank' is a true labour of love that tells you a story laced with beautiful moments that will tug at your heartstrings.... full review
So-So, by Deepali Srivastawa, Catch News : ...माधुरी-संजय ने अपने किरदार में परफेक्ट नजर आए और वहीं आलिया भट्ट ने शानदार एक्टिंग की है. वरुण धवन ने अपने किरदार को संभाला है. कियारा आडवाणी और सोनाक्षी सिन्हा का रोल ज्यादा नहीं था लेकिन जो भी रहा वो ठीक-ठाक रहा. आदित्य रॉय कपूर और कृणाल खेमु भी किरदार में अच्छे रहे और उन्होंने अंत तक अपने किरदार पर मजबूती से पकड़ बनाए रखी.... full review
So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...While the songs of Kalank are a visual treat to watch, the audio fares below the expectation levels. Barring the title track and Ghar More Pardesiya, the rest fail to linger for long.... full review
So-So, by T J Reddy, fullhyd.com : ...And therein lies the fatal folly of the film - the grand music, the opulent costumes and the bargain basement storytelling cover up any semblance of identity it could have had. The more I speak about these aspects of the film, the more I may encourage people to forget that compelling characters and narratives were short-changed for spectacle. And as we have been told time and time again, beauty is only skin deep. Like a bad date with a good-looking partner who has little between the ears, the movie told me all that I needed to know within the first 15 minutes, and the next two and half hours of my life were spent with it because I like hurting myself by being courteous.... full review
So-So, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...KALANK has everything – beauty, heart and a stellar cast but lacks the emotional heartbeat and is found searching for a soul. A beautifully stunning world, a lavish theatre created by sitting comfortably on an armchair that goes everywhere and reaches nowhere. Going with 2.5 – thanks to Alia, Madhuri and Pritam.... full review
So-So, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...Khemu’s turn as a wily power-broker is a revelation too. But the story is as old as the hills and the twists are alarmingly predictable. Though the film is mounted on an operatic scale, ‘Kalank’ never reaches a deafening crescendo. This love tragedy starts with a bang, whimpers along the way and concludes with some ado.... full review
So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Kalank's all-out commitment to a consistently feverish emotional pitch makes it an anomaly. No one, save Sanjay Leela Bhansali, does this sort of gale-force melodrama anymore.... full review
So-So, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...I was reminded of Deepa Mehta's masterpiece - 1947, Earth, rightly melodramatic, potently emotional which walked the tightrope of a love triangle in stormy times in a balanced way. Kalank doesn't aim for that depth. It's content in being pretty even when it has the potential of so much more.... full review
So-So, by Anindita Paul, Mumbai Mirror : ...At the end of the day, Kalank is a sensory delight. It’s har Read more at: https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/entertainment/movie-review/kalank-movie-review-varun-dhawan-alia-bhatt-starrer-is-an-ode-to-dysfunctional-love/articleshow/68920291.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst... full review
So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...A love story set in pre-independence with Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan should have been a hit, but it's such a mish mash of everything from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge to Casablanca to Lawaris to Bahubali to Camelot and everything in between and presented to you in a language that is so pretentious that it exhausts your patience.... full review
So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Kalank, if exploited for all its politics and ambiguity, has the material for a nine-part mini series. As a movie trying to cram in romance, betrayal, morality, sacrifice, virtue, ideology and tons of masala in under three hours with mostly miscast actors having to do all the heavy lifting, it feels like a lifetime.... full review
Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...Overall, it’s a pity that we get to see such a below average film made at such a lavish scale with such a potential cast wasting a great opportunity. Besides it's really surprising how the experienced makers couldn’t see the painfully slower pace and excessive length of their film lacking the most important emotional connect failing to rise above it grand visual appeal. Wonder what was the feedback in the trial shows of the film from their close associates? But then, what could they have done even after a negative feedback in the trial shows. As it seems, probably they knew that they had a pretty weak product in hand and thus cleverly released it two days early to take advantage of the holidays resulting in a long weekend.... full review
Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...Binod Pradhan's cinematography is captivating and has the big screen appeal. Amrita Mahal Nakai's production design is surreal and though it might remind one of Sanjay Leela Bhansali films, it is praiseworthy. The Heera Mandi set and especially the brothel of Bahaar is stunning. Manish Malhotra and Maxima Basu Golani's costumes are appealing but doesn’t seem authentic in terms of the era and the economic condition of some characters. Sham Kaushal's action is fine and not too violent. Remo Dsouza, Bosco-Caesar and Saroj Khan's choreography is worthy. Fluiidmask Studios and NY VFXWaala's VFX is good overall but quite bad at certain places, especially in the bull fight sequence. Shweta Venkat Mathew's editing is very disappointing as the film is quite lengthy at 168 minutes.... full review
Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...What is exhausting about Kalank is the excessive grandeur, the overwritten dialogue, the use of period setting just to have lavish sets, costumes, vintage cars, gondolas and chariots. Even when a woman is having a breakdown, she is prettily arranged on gold flooring.... full review
Thumbs down, by Mayur Sanap, Deccan Chronicle : ...In summary, style is not a substitute for story. Some good things do not make up for the complete derailment of this bland endeavour and an exhausted viewer leaves the theatre wondering exactly what the hell had happened, both in front of the camera and behind it.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Kalank ends up impersonating one of those tragically dated Lucknowi nawabs that sees “character,” rather than impending disaster, in the cracks of their dilapidated mansion walls. For better or worse, there is only one Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I’m not sure history can afford more.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...It is tempting to not think of the troubling, damaging politics of Kalank because it is fronted by such a likeable cast and comes in such pretty packaging. There is nothing pretty though about the lack of nuance in its portrayal of Hindu-Muslim equations and the lasting image from this film of the ferocious Muslim who destroys not just the other but also his own in pursuit of a cause.... full review
Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...The weak characterisations and the hackneyed justifications only add to the compounding tedium. The climactic portions borrow heavily from legendary Bollywood tropes and eventually end up making the entire sequence of events here look rather factitious and unworthy. Despite their likeable presence, the actors fail to drum up intensity or attachment with their performances. This tackily dressed-up extravaganza has nowhere to go, literally.... full review
Thumbs down, by Ankur Pathak, Huffington Post : ...A love story that you don’t root for is a love story that perhaps lacks love. Repeating ‘shiddat’ and ‘mohabbat’ do not an epic romance make.... full review
Thumbs down, by Ananya Bhattacharya, india today : ...Kalank uses the idea of Alia being 'giraftaar' in her marriage. That idea holds true for anyone watching Kalank too. You feel like a prisoner. Exercise your choice. Watch Kalank ONLY if you don't have any.... full review
Thumbs down, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...Overall, the film mysteriously loses its soul in the second half, and the explosive voltage of the Bahaar-Zafar confrontation in the first half simply cannot be matched by the calculated and synthetic feel of their meeting in the second half. Also, a sequence that should have been the emotional spine and highlight of the film, the meeting between Sanjay Dutt and Dixit, is a completely damp squib in the way it is written and enacted.... full review
Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...There is enough and more here, plotwise, for a bunch of films. But finally, despite Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt’s histrionics (the former looking as if he could well belong to that era, and Bhatt staying watchable, if increasingly, exasperatingly familiar), and Dixit’s wondrous dancing abilities (nobody can touch her when it comes to the grace she displays when she is on the floor), Kalank doesn’t really lift off the screen. The whole feels like a giant set, stately and ponderous and minus impact; the cast all costumed and perfumed and largely lifeless, sparking only in bits and pieces. As a character says, two-thirds into the film, yeh kissa yahin nipat jaata.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anita Iyer, Khaleej Times : ...Kalank ends up being a classic example that ostentatious sets, mammoth budgets and big stars aren't enough to hit the bull's eye. How about the makers shift their focus to bringing stories with soul to life?... full review
Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Kalank is surely not from those “kuch daag” which are good. It’s a skid mark on every actor’s filmography associated with the movie. Stuns visually & that’s about it! Me to Karan Johar after this: Peeche dekho, peeche toh dekho (Baahubali).... full review
Thumbs down, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...Screenplay and editing are poor and Abhishek Varman, could neither handle the movie nor the star cast. This film needed to be cut short by at least 40 minutes. Cinematography is fantabulous. All I want to say is that Kuch filmein karzon ki tarah hoti hai unhe dekhna nahi jhelna padhta hai. I had no other choice but to watch this movie, but you can avoid it.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...Just shy of three hours Kalank is ultimately tiring and heartbreaking even. You can see the talent on screen. If only there was a sharper script to harness it. I’m going with two out of five.... full review
Thumbs down, by Giridhar Jha, Outlook India : ...Aditya Roy Kapoor as a reticent newspaper editor, Sonakshi Sinha as his dying wife and Kunal Khemu as the leader of a communal party are good in parts but overall Kalank does not have much to write home about, unless you consider its grandiose production design to be a virtue in an era of content-rich movies.... full review
Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan have been well-matched in previous films, but Bhatt is out of her depth in Kalank. She is miscast as Roop, and cannot do the heavy-lifting required of a woman who is pawn, reluctant feminist, dutiful second wife, philanderer, singer, dancer and, in a hilarious moment of misjudgement, a budding journalist who marches out to document Hira Mandi’s history.... full review
Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Despite coming together on screen after years Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt don’t quite make one go nostalgic. Dutt seems disinterested and, despite her natural affectations, Dixit doesn’t dance or emote like a dream as she has. Varun Dhawan and Aditya Roy Kapur manage to hold their own, Sonakshi Sinha barely has much to do other than looking perfectly made-up even when mortallyill. In fact, it’s the youngest of them, Alia Bhatt, who makes you care for her. But the one to steal the thunder is the odd man out, Kunal Khemu in a villainous turn on the margins of the narrative.... full review
Thumbs down, by Joe Leydon, yahoo! India : ...There’s really nothing in the dialogue-heavy sections of “Kalank” that is as impressive and infectiously exuberant as the over-the-top performance of a tune like “Aira Gaira,” an exuberant show-stopper that has a saucy young woman (Kriti Sanon) cavorting with Zafar and Dev (who don’t recognize each other) and a few hundred dancing extras. Indeed, whenever there is a long stretch between the big production numbers here, you can’t help wishing everyone would just stop yapping and start singing and dancing again.... full review
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