Kalank Review: As the name suggests, ‘Kalank’ is a story that questions the high morals of society, especially when it comes to love and family ties. At the heart of the story, the film focuses on how eternal love goes beyond the norms and rules of society, the trappings of religion, and all other physical and man-made boundaries. At a dramatic moment in the film, Aditya Roy Kapur’s Dev remarks that if someone’s wife is in love with another man, then what is the point of the marriage at all. In that aspect, writer and director Abhishek Varman’s film makes a strong point.
The story is based in a town called Husnabad, near Lahore, a few years before the Partition of India and Pakistan. It’s a town populated by blacksmiths and a majority of them are Muslims. Husnabad’s most affluent family is the Chaudhrys – Dev and his father Balraj (Sanjay Dutt), who also run a liberal newspaper called The Daily News. Dev’s life takes a sudden turn when under strange circumstances he gets married to Roop. But the complexities in the story are just about to begin. Without revealing too much, during a visit to Bahaar Begum’s chamber (where Roop is honing her music skills) Roop meets Zafar, the local blacksmith and after several meetings they develop strong feelings for each other. The story seems like it offers something new, but the complex relationships and ill-fated romances are often predictable. What’s fresh about ‘Kalank’ is the treatment. This period drama is mounted on a lavish scale and whether it’s the sets or the costumes, everything about the film brings the grandeur alive.
While it does make a strong case for the universal nature of love, the film’s screenplay at times, becomes a little too indulgent and keeps oscillating between the deft nuances as well as theatrical drama. And yet, there are sublime moments like the uneasy relationship between newly-weds Roop and Dev, the tender exchanges between Satya and Dev and the romantic scenes (topped with intense dialogues) between Roop and Zaffar. The other high points of the film are the problematic equation between father and son, Dev and Balraj as well as the fragile teacher-student dynamic between Bahaar Begum and Roop. What we wish is that the narrative lingered more with such intimate moments that would make us feel more for the characters.
The biggest highlight of the film is the star-studded cast and thankfully, the performances measure up to the epic ensemble. Alia Bhatt leads the way in a role that showcases vulnerability and strength in equal measure. Varun Dhawan, flaunting his superbly toned, greased body looks great for the part and he shows immense intensity that his conflicted character demands. Another stand-out performance comes from Aditya Roy Kapur, who excels in the stoic silences and reserved nature of his character. Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Sanjay Dutt and Sonakshi Sinha chip in with moments of pitch-perfect drama, too. Kunal Kemmu as Zafar’s friend Abdul, brings in tension and thrills in his grey-shaded role. The joint efforts of the cast add the proverbial punch to the experience of ‘Kalank’.
An epic love saga based during the 1940s has so much scope for visual detailing and finesse. While ‘Kalank’ scales up the production in every aspect, at times, the world that it recreates looks a little too plush and away from reality. The film features arresting frames full of grand visuals captured by cinematographer Binod Pradhan, and the music by Pritam has stand out songs like ‘Ghar More Pardesiya’ and the ‘Kalank’ title track. At 2 hours and 48 minutes, with a tighter edit the story could have wrapped up much sooner though. ‘Kalank’ is a true labour of love that tells you a story laced with beautiful moments that will tug at your heartstrings.