For those of you who are unaware, Karan Johar planned on making this movie along with his father Yash Johar around 15 years ago with an entirely different cast. And all I have to say is, he should have. Because it would’ve been the kind of classic that it was intended to be back then. It definitely missed the mark here, now, in 2019.
Kalank tries to tell a story of star-crossed lovers. The story begins a few years before independence in a Muslim dominated city called Husnabad. Balraj Chaudhary (played by Sanjay Dutt) lives in a mansion with his only son Dev Chaudhary (Played by Aditya Roy Kapur) and his daughter-in-law Satya Chaudhary (played by Sonakshi Sinha). Satya sets the story in motion when she finds out that she has close to a year left to live. She is as good-wifely as it gets because she is striving to find another wife for her husband before she dies. Enter, Roop (played by Alia Bhatt), the girl Satya finds to replace her. Dev and Roop get married and Satya waits for well…death.
There is no love between Dev and Roop, just respect. Dev makes that clear by telling her that on their first night. Roop feels like this relationship has clipped her wings and looks for something to keep herself occupied. She oversteps the ‘Chaudhary house rules’ to take music lessons from Bahar Begum of the forbidden streets of Hiramandi. Here, she crosses path with the ripped ironsmith, Zafar (Played by Varun Dhawan). And of course, Roop falls for his overtly macho charm. Here in lies the Kalank that the movie title refers to. Illicit affairs —is it fair or is it a Kalank?
The stellar star cast is one of the redeeming qualities of the movie. The actors have played their characters to perfection. Alia makes Roop believable and as usual, owns every scene that she is in. Not to mention, she looks breathtakingly beautiful. Varun excels as the extremely macho, ironsmith with the kohl-rimmed eyes. Sonakshi will remind you way too much of Pakhi from Lootera in terms of her look and the storyline of her character as well. Even then, she delivers a stellar performance in the little screentime she has, making you wish you could see more of Satya. But it is Aditya who will leave you surprised. You finally get to see him play something other than an alcoholic and he is amazing as the progressive and extremely understanding Dev. He is hands down the best character and someone who will win your heart with his contained performance. Madhuri as Bahar oozes every bit of grace that her role demands. In fact, so much that, she might as well have been Chandramukhi from Devdas, 17 years later. Sanjay’s character is vaguely defined but he manages to pull off Balraj to perfection even then. Kunal Kemmu is the surprise element in the film and it is honestly refreshing to see him in anything other than the Golmaal series. But it is also a special appearance that was dragged for way too long or edited way too short. It almost looked like director Abhishek Verman didn’t know what to do with his character.
But what makes this nearly-3 hour movie worth the watch is the crackling chemistry between the characters. There’s a reason that Varun and Alia are shipped together by fans. The chemistry between Zafar and Roop is palpable even though their love story is hardly convincing. Their first meeting is one of the few electrifying moments in the film.
The same goes for the sweet and innocent relationship that Dev and Satya share, Aditya and Sonakshi look adorable together and you genuinely feel bad for their doomed relationship. Madhuri and Sanjay have one scene with each other and this scene is worth the drag fest you’ve to sit through. They deliver it like the superstars they are. Shame, pain, loss, love — this one Madhuri-Sanjay scene gives us all of that.
Like most of you must’ve figured from the trailer and the songs, Kalank is undeniably visually brilliant – minus the unnecessary bullfight sequence that it had. An extra oily Varun Dhawan and a badly VFXed bull do nothing for the plot of the movie. The sets are breathtaking and cinematography by Binod Pradhan is mesmerizing. While the Hiramandi looks a little too clean, the enchanting palace that Bahaar Begum lives in is a sight to behold.
But none of the above can redeem it from the bad writing. Unfortunately, the film feels like it’s trying too hard with a stellar cast who is shouldering the weight of a not-so-great script. It feels like Kalank is trying to tell too many things in too short a time focusing on nothing in particular. TBH, Abhishek had delivered brilliantly as a debut director in 2 States compared to this one. Even the central plot of the movie—Roop and Zafar’s love story, is not defined or convincing enough to make you believe that they need to end up together. The actors don’t really have anything to work with and are left with their raw talent.
Not to mention there are songs every 15 minutes just because they had the money to do it. Apart from Varun’s entry song, First Class, there is an item song by Kriti Sanon, Aditya, and Varun that comes out of nowhere. So does Madhuri’s Tabbah Ho Gaye, but she’s forgiven coz what’s a movie without Madhuri dancing? Unfortunately, even Pritam‘s music refuses to leave an impact.
All in all, the movie could have been at least an hour shorter, preferably with a better script. Sadly, it seems inspired by way too many magnum-opuses before it. Not to mention the film ends with a series of montages that almost looks like a fan-made trailer of the movie itself.
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sonakshi Sinha, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, and Kunal Kemmu
Director: Abhishek Verman