‘Kalank’ review: Director attempts to showcase complex relationship between characters and somewhat succeeds

Movie Name: Kalank

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Sonakshi Sinha

Director: Abhishek Varman

Stars: ***

Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala’s ambitious project, Kalank is directed by Abhishek Verman. This film is set in 1945 in Lahore when the country was going through a turmoil under British rule. Varun Dhawan plays the central role of an illegitimate man Zafar, who is full of rage for his parents who abandoned him as a child. Zafar wants to take revenge against Baldev (Sanjay Dutt), who’s a powerful man who owns a local newspaper and his mother, Bahaar Begum (Madhuri Dixit), who’s a courtesan.

Zafar meets Roop (Alia Bhatt), who’s Baldev’s daughter in law and decides to use her to get even with Baldev. Roop feels drawn to Zafar even though she’s married to Dev Chaudhury (Aditya Roy Kapoor) due to some complications in her personal life. A single emotional thread binds all the main characters in the film. Zafar instigates his rebellious friend Abdul (Kunal Khemmu) to fight against the Chaudhurys.

Verman, while trying to recreate the old-world charm and turmoil of the period that his film is set in, also attempts to tell a story of complex relationship between his main characters. Unfortunately, while he somewhat succeeds in creating India of 40s through the costumes and other details, his film lacks the soul that would keep one connected to the goings on in the screen. While the attempt is to make it larger than life Bhansali-isque kind of film, the narration falls flat because of the underconfident execution. Heavy duty dialogues (by Husain Dalal) while effective in some places, largely seem forced and unnecessary. If the length of the film was shorter (it is close to three hours) and the CGI effects were better, perhaps it would have helped the film. While the climax of the film is created well, it goes on for so long that it ends up becoming a drag.

Varun Dhawan is excellent as Zafar, who is full of rage and revenge. Another actor who’s worth mentioning is Kunal Khemmu who plays Zafar’s rebellious friend Abdul. Khemmu is fantastic. Alia Bhatt surprisingly disappoints as she seems to be struggling to fit into the role of Roop. Her talent is evident in some scenes, but this is definitely not one of Alia’s best performances. Aditya Roy Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha give good support. Madhuri Dixit is graceful as ever but her stereotypical role doesn’t give her much scope to perform. The songs of the film are befitting the era that’s the film is set in and pleasant to the ears, but the monotonous background score is not something to write home about.

Watch this one solely for Varun Dhawan.