“Kalank” REVIEW: A visually stunning, yet flawed film.

A huge star cast can’t always guarantee a good film. Grand visuals, splendid sets and an overall majestic vibe is a feast for the eyes, but that does not guarantee a good story. The songs are somewhat hummable, the dances may be fun to watch, but that does not guarantee a good screenplay. The point is, the content is not as powerful as what the visuals may make you believe. No doubt, a lot of effort goes into making such a film, and that effort should be commended. A film like “Kalank” is huge and to set up a film of such a magnitude requires hours and hours of labor and brain hammering.

At first the film grabs you by its aesthetics and visual style. It doesn’t take long for the first revelation to express itself. The first scene itself. Then we have a dance. Only a few minutes later, we have another dance. This film, in a way, comes across as an actual musical. That’s fine, if done right. So what’s the story? Satya Chaudhry (Sonakshi Sinha), a woman dying of cancer, requests her childhood acquaintance, Roop (Alia Bhatt), to provide companionship to her husband, Dev (Aditya Roy Kapur). Roop agrees on the condition that she marry Dev. Once married, Dev tells Roop that their relationship will be cordial and platonic. A lonely Roop, who enjoys dancing, slowly builds a relationship with a womanizing blacksmith names Zafar (Varun Dhawan). Zafar wants to exact revenge on his parents, Bahaar Begum (Madhuri Dixit) and Balraj Chaudhry (Sanjay Dutt) , who abandoned Zafar after Balraj ended his extramarital affair with Bahaar), by seducing Roop, as she is married to Balraj’s legitimate son, Dev.

That’s the set up, but of course there are twists and turns to this tale, along with the backdrop of communal violence. One can call this a pre-partition drama about star crossed lovers, which deserves more. Perhaps a different angle…But there is nothing new to this story, other than the grand canvas in which it has been painted. This is the type of story we have seen many times. The screenplay is flawed right from the beginning, with a few scenes standing out here and there. The structure of the film is debatable and may have prevented the impact required for such a film. Sadly, when it comes to the screenplay, it adds to the monotonous and “been there done that” vibe. Ironically, in this film, the second half is better than the first half. The climax may or may not find takers. One thing that also stood out in the film are the dialogues which were very heavy, melodramatic, and don’t really fit in with the type of dialogues we hear nowadays.

From a directorial standpoint, at times the blocking was questionable.  The film is generally very theatrical and stagy. Also, even though this is a period film, it seems to be set in a fictional space which is neither old nor new. It begs the question, “Did people actually behave like this back then?” Perhaps we can consider that to be cinematic liberty. Speaking of cinematic, from the technical standpoint this film is perfect. The visuals, the cinematography, the lighting and the production design gets an “A+” from me. This definitely looks like a proper, quality, product. The editing deserves special mention as well, however the film didn’t need to be as long. Thumbs up to the sound design as well. As for the song sequences, the choreography was better than the music. Lets put it that way!

Now the performances. Alia Bhatt is beautiful as Roop. Her character may not be very complex, but she does justice. Varun Dhawans role and character was meaty enough for him to showcase his talent, and he does so wonderfully. We feel for his character. Aditya Roy Kapoor is just ok. Madhuri Dixit shows off her dancing skills, but when it comes to acting, her character doesn’t really demand much from her, but she does what she can. Sanjay Dutt is nothing more than ok, but does his part. The supporting cast, especially Kunal Khemu, do their parts well.

Overall, Kalank is worth a watch if you enjoy eye-candy and visual splendor on the screen. If you are looking for a meaty story, you might be disappointed.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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