Kalank Movie Review 2019: Drama Amidst Opulence

Everything about Kalank is opulent. A pre-Partition drama between the grand and much-respected house of the Chaudhry family and Lahore's Hira Mandi where illegitimacy and immorality reside.

Kalank Movie Review 2019: Drama Amidst Opulence Kalank Movie Review 2019: Drama Amidst Opulence Source : Press

Religion, politics, class and legitimacy. Writer-director Abhishek Varman employs all the possible equations that spark tension in relationships to tell a story of star-crossed lovers.

Using the Sanjay Leela Bhansali route, he takes his camera and choreographer into an ageing nautch girl's palatial house of music and dance for lavish song and dance sequences.

Everything about Kalank is opulent. A pre-Partition drama between the grand and much-respected house of the Chaudhry family and Lahore's Hira Mandi where illegitimacy and immorality reside.

When Roop, the tender new daughter-in-law of patriarch Balraj Chaudhry is drawn to the music of Bahaar Begum in Hira Mandi, the forbidden beckons. It brings to the fore the play between Balraj Chaudhry and Bahaar, the ageing nautch girl, which in turn impacts the taboo romance between Roop and daredevil Zafar. The shirtless Zafar whose illegitimacy makes him as hard and as hot as the iron he hammers to make the best weapons.

And then there's Roop's husband Dev Chaudhry who's still in love with his first wife Satya.

The connection between Balraj and Bahaar, Zafar's destructive anger over his illegitimacy, the mansion on the respectable side of the social divide and Hira Mandi with its notoriety, all of it is leisurely and dramatically tied up. There's fire outside too with communal tensions stoked by men like Abdul, Zafar's brother-like friend.

So there's the Hindu-Muslim war cry raging and Balraj Chaudhry's respectable façade versus the morals of Hira Mandi all synthesised for a spectacular drama. At the core is the old Hindi film nugget of the ageing, secular whore with the golden heart.

Perhaps that's the problem with Kalank. It strives too hard to overwhelm. And the visuals with grand camerawork by Binod Pradhan are calibrated to stun. Don't look too closely for authenticity as a spectacular Dassera sequence in Hira Mandi has jumping blue figures with bows and arrows forming the backdrop for the entry of Zafar into Roop's heart. It's just one of the many examples of the obviousness in the visual grandeur.

Varman also makes lavish use of dances to simultaneously introduce characters and situations. Alia Bhatt as Roop traipses in with ‘Rang barse' in the opening titles, fresh as a daisy and free as a soaring kite to establish her sense of freedom which is soon going to be snatched away. While Varun Dhawan as Zafar energetically dances on the streets with ‘Baki sab first class hai', Roop, husband Dev, first wife Satya, patriarch Balraj Chaudhry with his own sins of the past and Bahaar Begum add their own colour to the picture. Towards the climax, Bahaar dances to a soulful ‘Tabaah ho gaye' to symbolise the all-round fatal end to love and emotions.

Despite the inordinate length, what lingers are the performances and the music. Alia Bhatt's chakkars in the exquisitely-picturised ‘Ghar more pardesiya' are a revelation, packing an impact as love-torn Roop. Varun Dhawan revels as Zafar, showcasing his skill at being energetically macho and vulnerably troubled too. Madhuri Dixit makes a graceful Bahaar. Madhuri and Sanjay Dutt bring a whiff of stardom from the past. Sonakshi Sinha is perfectly cast as Satya, the older daughter-in-law who has to do something which no wife would want to in her lifetime. Aditya Roy Kapur fits the role of the stiff khandaani Dev. But it's Kunal Khemu as hardliner Abdul who springs a surprise performance.

Verdict: For a spectacularly mounted movie that weakens with too many points of conflict, unnecessary length and a tepid ending, Kalank gets a 3* rating.

Disclaimer: We are proud that LehrenTV reviewer Bharathi S Pradhan has been appointed an advisory member of the prestigious CBFC. However, her reviews reflect her personal appraisal of a film and do not in any way speak on behalf of the Censor Board.

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