It is impressive how the city of Mumbai never runs out of stories. One moment you think, how can someone film anything more with Mumbai as a premise and the next moment you watch light breeze films like Tu Hai Mera Sunday (2017) and a dark comedy Kaalakaandi (2018) come out in two consecutive years with an entirely different worldview of this city.
Mumbai, for me, was the highlight character of Kaalakaandi. The film takes you through everything that happens in the wee hours of the city – on its roads, in its pubs, by the sea face and the dark edge corners of well lit up streets.
Apart from showing Mumbai in the never-seen-before dingy & desolate night view, Kaalakaandi showcases how about a dozen Mumbaikars deal with life, when almost everything goes wrong, which innately also is the definition of Kaalakaandi.
Debutant director Akshat Verma (who wrote Delhi Belly) has handled all his characters with great sensitivity and understanding. Similar to his last 2 performances in Rangoon (2017) and Chef (2017), Saif delivers a convincing performance, with nuances to his character & layers to his story.
At no point in the story, does one stop empathising with Saif’s insecurities, desires, and imaginations.
Deepak Dobriyal, Vijay Razz, Shobhita Dhulipala & Kunaal Roy Kapoor play well developed human mentalities with their performances overpowering the writing.
With smaller screen time, however, actors like Neel Bhoopalan, Isha Talwar, Amyra Dastur & Shehnaz Treasurywala bring moments of irritation, admirability & surprise – all in line with the little that was given to them.
The two that intrigued me the most, along with Saif Ali Khan were Nary Singh, playing a sex-worker Sheela and Akshay Oberoi as Angad.
We like characters for what they have, but we relate to them for what they lack.
You might not be them – but you relate to them so much that as an audience, I personally started finding myself in both Sheela and Angad – and so will you.
Details of queer behaviour, underworld, post-disease effect are also handled very well by the director, and the treatment is much away from what we usually have seen in our cinema.
However, apart from the characterisation of both the city and its people & its treatment – Kaalakaandi could have been handled differently. The movie is less than two hours long, which is ridiculously beautiful for a Hindi film, but it still feels a bit long.
The film, opposite to what was promised, doesn’t make you laugh much. Although it has its funny moments, on the whole, it leaves you wanting for much more.
The film aims to ride high on cuss words and make people laugh but I guess our audience has grown intelligent.
A weak link in Kaalakaandi’s credit list is its screenplay, which dwells on “karma” and tries to unintentionally link the major three parallel running plots, but somehow falls short.
While you empathise with people, little or no chance has been given to empathise with stories.
The plot is racy, aims to send down chills & evoke feelings – but what it also does is, it sends you home and lets you Google all the actors & the fabulous work they have done.
Image Credits: Google Images
ED Times as the Official Blog Partner for Kaalakaandi was invited to the exclusive pre-release screening of the movie yesterday, in Mumbai.