KAALAKAANDI (2018)

An uptight man learns that he has only 3 more months to live. He has lived a life of control but now decides to unleash his darkest dreams and fantasies. Two gangsters decide that they have had enough of earning pocket change and hatch a scheme to swindle a bag full of cash from their boss. A girl who is in a relationship that she is not totally convinced about and is leaving for the US to pursue a Ph.D. runs into an unexpected police raid at a rave party and then is part of a hit and run. As she makes her way to the airport, she is pulled down by guilt and an insatiable desire to do what is right. A guy who is about to get married has a change of heart as a girl he had a fling with arrives in town. All these events entangle in a finite time period of 8-10 hours.

I believe many will not get this film and its dark humor. It might be a little too ahead of its time and I would go to the extent of saying that this film comes at a very wrong time. This is the time when masala potboilers are making 300 crores + surplus. Making a film like this which doesn’t have an actual story so to speak and has none of the commercial tadkas is like catering to a polar opposite taste of what is the norm of the day. But kudos have to be given to the makers for attempting a film like this.

I liked this film and I have my own set of reasons for that. It’s not that this film is devoid of flaws. It has its own share of flip-ups and I will get to them too but before that let us appreciate all that is good in this film. Throughout the screening of this film, I had a grin on my face. I couldn’t remember a single sequence when I was not grinning. For a film, this serious to have been able to achieve this and that too gracefully was a great achievement. The comedy is very situational and even when a doctor delivers a death sentence to a patient, chances are you will grin simply because of the reaction that the patient has to it.

Every character in the film is interestingly written. Even a havildar who appears for only  5 minutes or so is not boring. I loved the way the characters moved from point a to b throughout the runtimes. The film doesn’t have a coherent story but what it has instead is a chain of events for each of the characters. By the time the film is done with the characters, they have all made important decisions in that stipulated time and grown as the characters they are.

That brings me to the next best thing about the characters. We have over the years learned to expect certain characters to behave in some specific way and that we have been groomed to do by some mind-numbing typecasting of characters by filmmakers. This film breaks that status quo and gives us something new to experience. I cannot reveal what I am referring to without giving a spoiler and hence I will refrain from it. I believe when you will see the film you will understand what I tried to put my finger on at this point. This is a densely populated film. There are many characters and there are at least four individual parallel storylines that are unfolding in a runtime of lesser than 2 hours and yet the director successfully keeps the narrative breezy and easy to track.

I read many reviews pointing out the fact that the screenplay is hotch-potch and messy and in-cohesive and what not. I, on the contrary, had absolutely no issues following what was happening and hence had a pretty good time with the film. I loved the way the film shifted tracks between the narratives and enough time was given to each of the narratives to ensure that we connect with the characters and the storylines. The way the stories overlap each other was also believable and wouldn’t raise any eyebrows.

Having said all that, the biggest plus for the film will still remain its performances. Saif Ali Khan gives one of his best performances of recent years. From the moment he gets stoned, he is a delight to watch. The amount of laughs that he generates simply with his mannerism is astounding going by the body of his recent work. I loved his camaraderie with a eunuch essayed wonderfully by Nary Singh. It is one of the funniest bits of the film. Deepak Dobriyal and Vijay Raaz are delightful in their bits. What the director completely nailed, in this case, was the lingo. They use a sensational amount of abuses going by Bollywood standards and use it well. This trait helps in making their characters and the setting more real. Sobhita Dhulipala as the girl who has the hit and run case is terrific. Her act gets better towards the end and I am not saying that she was bad to start with. Shenaz Treasurywala plays a voluptuous drug-abusing party animal with finesse. She and her sex-slave (as she refers to Shivam Patil) are quirky and fun. Every actor nails his/her part with clinical ease.

Having said all that, the film has its share of issues. The biggest of them all is the ending. I couldn’t buy the way they deal with Dobriyal’s character. For a while, that is something that completely took me out of the psychedelic realism of the film. It came as a shocker and not a good one at that. The film’s content will not appeal to one and all. Frankly speaking, even I am not that much into the subject that it deals with but the performances and the comedy took me in. For all those who are not hooked by the comedy, performances and the set pieces, this will be an almost unwatchable film.

Overall, my views of this film are very subjective and at that, I have to admit that I had a good time with this film. Saif leads from the front an ensemble cast that is at the top of its game. The execution is top notch and if you still want more then you have the subtle comedy which will make you grin throughout the runtime if you get the drift of their wicked sense of humor.

Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

 

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