Kalank Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapur, Kunal Khemu, Hiten Tejwani
Kalank Director: Abhishek Varman
Kalank Producer: Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions
Rating: 1* star/5
It seems the jinx that hit big-budget, big-starcast films last year has not slowed down yet. After the debacle of Thugs of Hindostan and Zero, Karan Johar’s Kalank starring new age heartthrobs Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt and yesteryear’s superstars Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt looks like heading in the same direction. May be not at the box office (god forbid) but in terms of missing screenplay and glaring flaws at least. Kalank’s makers try to pack too many punches in a movie filmed in over-the-top sets and this weight crumbles the thin screenplay it rests on. A movie school will teach you that the film’s screenplay should be heavier than its plot but in Kalank it is exactly the opposite. The premise or the plot of Kalank movie is too complex and long and the makers have tried to pack it in a box of glossy Sanjay Leela Bhansali-style sets, but in the end nothing can work if the film’s screenplay is flimsy. The film opens with a close-up shot of Sonakshi Sinha and ends with one of Alia Bhatt. In between is a more than two and a half hour long slog of a yawn fest that is Karan Johar’s production Kalank.
What went wrong
In the beginning, for almost an hour, we are introduced to characters randomly, one-by-one, without trying to connect them with any emotion or story. There is little backstory of the characters and they appear without reference. Writers, and Director Abhishek Varman leave this puzzle lingering for too late to unravel. Till then you are already bored to death! Alia’s character is introduced to us jumping from rooftop to rooftop after kites in Gwalior and her one jump is so long that she lands straight in the Himalayas from the central Indian town. There are unnecessarily lengthy songs which add to this already one-hour too long movie. The film’s story then shifts to Husnabad, on the outskirts of Lahore, which looks like a town designed and inspired by Bhansali. Madhuri Dixit is shown as a former mujra dancer who now teaches singing but for some reason no one apart from Madhuri and Alia sing. Alia also works as a journalist. So she is a journalist-cum-singer-cum-Kathak-dancer whose only article gets rejected! Varun Dhawan is a Lahori blacksmith-cum-gladiator who for some reasons fights with a CGI bull in a roman-style arena in Himalayas (apparently next door from Lahore)! Surprisingly, the hyper-aggressive CGI bulls is so intelligent that it leaves Dhawan unharmed and walks straight into the cage on its own.
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In the first-half, Madhuri appears for a song while Sanjay Dutt appears only for few seconds. Aditya Roy Kapur stands and gives side glances to Alia in almost every scene they are together in the first half. There is also a shouting match between Aditya and Varun in the second half! In the climax, a neatly stacked pile of newspapers burns perfectly in the middle of a road. That’s a riot! Here, artist’s perfection wins and realism and rawness, and messy human emotions lose. There is a DDLJ-style train sequence as well but without anything DDLJ. People easily board and deboard the train running at snail’s pace barring the protagonist who is running at Usain Bolt’s speed!
Alia Bhatt is shown as the narrator of Kalank’s whole story but why and to who she is narrating is unknown. It is probably a tale we don’t want to know anymore.
The precious little that works
Kalank’s sets are beautiful and lavish but lack life which can only be instilled by a solid script. Film’s lead cast of Varun and Alia have tried hard to lift the sinking narrative of this movie. They try to portray genuineness in their emotions and have done everything they could but even brilliant actors can not over power screenplay. Sonakshi is good and her act reminds us of her gracious portrayal in Lootera. Aditya Roy Kapur brings sincerity to his performance, especially in the second half. Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt sparkle in one scene they are together and that is it.
Kalank is an opportunity missed. It tries to pack too many things and achieve too much but the end result does not give you a film that was promised in its pacy trailer. The film lacks pace, is too lengthy, story lacks cohesion and screenplay is dull. The dialogues are a mish-mash of Urdu and Hindi. For example a Urdu-heavy sentence spoken by Alia also has a Sanskrit word like ‘ant’ (for end) in it while there is an easy Urdu alternative available for the same in ‘aakhiri’. The confusion is passed on to viewers making it a not so impressive experience. The film could turn out to be Dharma Productions very own ‘Thugs of Hindostan’.