Kalank Movie Review: Almost 3 hours of tedium!

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I survived (Somehow). That’s all I can say after an excruciatingly painful watch and a tiring experience.

Kalank deserves a rap on the knuckles for the kind of restlessness it leads you into. Having sat through the first half-an-hour of the movie and endured the colossal boredom, I wasn’t surprised that I started going into the state of slumber. There’s a big announcement in a dramatic way as to who’s the father of one of the protagonists and who’s his mother as the film nears the intermission (Something that turns out to be a child’s play as you would have precisely predicted it much sooner than they actually reveal). And there’s some sort of romance building up in the midst of India-Pakistan partition issues that hardly move you. The biggest of all problems is that the screenplay is structured in the Indian soap opera style! I didn’t walk out of the cinema hall midway. I had made up my mind to check just how badly it all unfolds in the film.

The story is set in Lahore during the time when India was on the cusp of Independence from the British and the birth of Pakistan was on the cards. The film shows the glimpses of conflict between the followers of Hindu and Muslim religion which ultimately result in indiscriminate killings in the end. Director Abhishek Varman’s focus is more on the lives of a Hindu girl Roop (Alia Bhatt) and a Muslim guy Zafar (Varun Dhawan) and how this affects the people related to them.

Call it inspiration. Or, an attempt to use elements from hit films or even a TV series. This jejune film does have elements that make you hark back to some of the greatest films or series but that doesn’t work in its favour. Do you want a bit of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sort of action? You got it! You see a strong and muscular Zafar involved in bullfighting. Be ready to witness one of the greatest CGI work in this sequence (pun intended). If you wanted to get a feel of that iconic “My heart will go on” sung by Celine Dion for Titanic or Ramin Djawadi’s haunting main title theme for Westworld, Kalank’s background score by Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara gives you modified versions of the same. In fact, when the teaser of this film was released, film critic Raja Sen tweeted saying that it has ripped off the theme music from the TV series The Flash. And Bollywood also has its very own to look up to. So, you do get to recall Shah Rukh Khan’s famous train scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge as Alia Bhatt, who has boarded the train, shouts out to Zafar and he runs to hold her hand in a dramatic fashion and get onboard. The more this film tries to make this film interesting, the more it plummets miserably.

Brace yourselves. Almost every lead actor has an “intro” song too. The unnecessary and not-going-well-with-the-mood-of-the-film songs were probably meant to give you a sigh of relief and give some respite from an otherwise stodgy collection of scenes in this film. But that doesn’t save the film either.  A ‘special’ mention to a song where Roop has turned up at the brothel of Bahaar Begum (Madhuri Dixit). Roop wants to take singing lessons from Bahaar Begum and actually starts singing to a great perfection along with her in the first meet itself (It looked like Roop did not really need singing lessons at all). Outside of this Brothel, Zafar hears the voice of Roop and is mesmerised. Zafar meets Roop on her way out and leaves an impression on her just like that! And there blossoms a romance (actually, tries to blossom).

Not only the relationship between Zafar and Roop fails to bloom, but the not-so-moving tale of Dev Chaudhry (Aditya Roy Kapur) and his ailing wife Satya (played by an affecting Sonakshi Sinha in her short stint) also does not go well.

A grim-faced Sanjay Dutt as Dev’s father is terrific but does not have much to do in this film.

Well, then what did I really like in this film? I got to know that Lahore city is known as Lohaaron Ka Sheher (City of blacksmiths) and this is how it got its name.

I survived (Somehow). That’s all I can say after an excruciatingly painful watch and a tiring experience.

Sui Dhaaga Movie Review – Knitting an uninteresting tale

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Source: Yash Raj Films

A good attempt which takes us into the world of hardships to attain something bigger but is plagued with familiarity and predictable arcs

Moving up the ladder in your life by doing it in your own terms is something we all look forward to. Who wants to be repressed inside the bubble of a forced life where we get to accept everything as a fate and survive on the murky waters waiting for the tides of change? You would like to burst out of that bubble and do what you really want to do by making corking good use of whatever talent you have. Sharat Katariya’s Sui Dhaaga tries to establish a similar theme through the struggle of Mauji (Varun Dhawan) and Mamta (Anushka Sharma). Well, the intention is right but the narration goes haywire.

The film starts with a breezy introduction through the voice of Varun who briefs us with every important character in the film. Apart from Mauji and Mamta, a married couple, we also get to know about his father (Raghubir Yadav) and the mother (Yamini Das). They are leading the lives of a typical Indian middle-class family which appears monochromatic. The breeziness in the air is short-lived and we are taken to a juncture where their lives take a detour.

The intention is right but the narration goes haywire

This is where the movie really takes off and completely catches you off-guard at the same time when Mauji takes his family to a wedding function of his boss. Mamta gets embarrassed on witnessing the ill-treatment of her husband by the groom. Mauji is literally being treated like a dog where he is actually impersonating a dog on being told to do so by the groom. And he really does a great job on this task of impersonation. Although one can argue that he had to obey the orders of his boss, it all looked spaced-out when he hardly shows any discomfort and happily does everything. Later, consoling his wife at home, he innocuously divulges that he has impersonated numerous animals for his boss.

This all looks eccentric looking at the sort of character that Varun has to exhibit but that’s when we realise how naive he is. Anyway, it is hard to think of a person not caring a wee bit about his respect even at a public place whatever the case may be. The whole impersonation thing was really irksome and never looked real. It was not even funny. Maybe a child would laugh at that! Thanks to Mamta who puts some sense in him and encourages him to quit his job and start his own tailoring business. Mind you she is generous in that way and a viewer may be annoyed by this absurd and preposterous act.

Now the problem is we can already foretell that it is the tale of poor-turning-rich-fighting-all-odds and we start picturing the next course of events. So, the only hope is that those events are knitted in an engrossing manner. And, thus, we wait and endure the familiarity in this narration.

At this stage, we would be expecting him to start from the scratch and make it big to be one of the best in the field of tailoring. If fixing the blouse of Mamta was a small gesture and not proof enough of his talent, he uses cloth pieces at home and stitches a gown out of that for his mom so that she can wear something comfy while being admitted at the hospital for all the stress she is going through. Mauji’s father and elder brother never stop berating him and asking him to accept a job at a factory far away home to earn a living. Both the husband and wife even have to travel a long way on a bicycle to get free sewing machine distributed by the government.  They even fall in the trap of working for a big company called Bedi Creations for meagre salary only to realise it later on.

Instead of “Oh really! How are they going to do this?” remark, one would end up thinking “Come on, just get it over with”

But all these events, showing troubling times, does not really invoke any emotion. It never really sets the tone to pique the interests of the viewers thereby failing to make any sort of impact with the predicament of Mauji and Mamta. Amidst all the hindrances, it is Mamta who is always motivating Mauji to keep trying. We even see a small chemistry blossoming between the two lead characters which come off as a sigh of relief in an otherwise numbing predictable arc that the movie ends up forming.

Even as humdrum and uninspiring narration unfolds, we lose all hope of it getting any better and just wait for the phase where they have finally reached on top. Instead of “Oh really! How are they going to do this?” remark, one would end up thinking “Come on, just get it over with”. So, when we finally get to that final phase, one might have hoped it to have come sooner. Mauji and Mamta get to know about a Fashion Fund, in their short stint at Bedi creations, which is like a major competition to get noticed among the biggest of fashion designers. And so we enter into the best phase of the movie and so comes the nicest song as well called Khatar Patar. Anu Malik’s background score nicely blends with the theme of the movie too. They get selected in the auditions, build a team of locals and win the titular prize as well which was again the most probable outcome.

As far as I can think of, leaving aside that stupid impersonation of dog, Varun did okay showing the traits of innocence that he displayed well in Shoojit Sircar’s October. Anushka’s character was not sidelined at all and had a colossal role to play in the uplifting of Mauji’s career. Although I rate Anushka as an astounding performer who shined like a diamond in a crap like Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry met Sejal, somehow this tear- eyed performance did not quite look convincing to me and looked very artificial. Raghubir Yadav and Yamini Das have done a decent job as the parents of Mauji as did other supporting casts.

A plot like the one in this movie is not something we have never seen or unheard of. But that does not mean we should stop making films on this subject where one comes on top after all the scrabbles. The problem occurs when there is nothing new for the audience to cling on to and they lose interest early on. Weaving an arresting storyline is of utmost importance in such familiar plots where the audience needs to keep guessing the next course of events and end up experiencing surprising sequences. Sharat Katariya’s Sui Dhaaga is a good attempt which takes us into the world of hardships to attain something bigger but is plagued with familiarity and predictable arcs. Sui Dhaaga winds up knitting an uninteresting tale.