With big power comes big responsibilities. No one other than director Abhishek Varman could have understood it better. He had everything at his disposal. A fascinating subject, a production team that was willing to go all out (Karan Johar, Sajid Nadiadwala, Fox Star) and a dream multistarrer cast. He had a job in hand to put it all together and make a film that not just met but exceeded huge expectations that everyone had from it.
Well, he does succeed at least in meeting, if not exceeding, expectations. What he does is integrate the three elements quite well – story, dialogues and performances. In fact these are the three strong pillars of Kalank which ensure that the narrative stays engaging, exciting and entertaining.
Talking about the story, it is quite unique and smartly integrates elements of partition, industrial evolution as well as communalism in the love story which is on display. With Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt coming together, one may expect yet another light hearted entertainer but that was never going to be the case here. After all, when you have a film titled as Kalank, it is bound to be heavy weight and that indeed turns out to be the case.
All of this means that there is no such thing as welcome relief in the film. The drama stays serious and intense for most part of it as a result of which audience need to be in a certain frame of mind to enjoy what is being offered. You need to be attentive and patient as no one breaks into a laughter at any point of time and there is a lot of investment that needs to be in the characters.
This is where performances and dialogues play a very major role in keep it all smooth. There is a 60s Muslim social feel to the proceedings and hence majority of dialogues are heavy weight with a lot of sher-o-shaayari involved. If you like such conversational mode, you would like it. What supports it all are performances, especially by Varun Dhawan, Kunal Kemmu and Aditya Roy Kapur. It takes some time to grasp the graph of Varun’s characterisation but once you get it, he totally involves you in his journey. Aditya Roy Kapur is a revelation as he plays his part with sincerity and there is certain nicety that he brings on screen. As for Kunal, he has a very meaty part to play and he does that with full conviction.
Alia Bhatt is fine though one does feel that for this part a slightly elder actress may have fitted the bill better. She plays her part well but looks looks way too young amidst all other actors. Sonakshi Sinha has a few scenes in the film and she does justice to them. Sanjay Dutt has a very weak characterisation due to which he never really comes on his own right till the end. Madhuri Dixit is superb in her dance performances but her part is again scattered right through the narrative.
What is consistent though is the production right through the film. Everything from sets to cinematography to sound design to background score just about fits in very well. You know that you are watching a film which is made for a big screen viewing.
This is exactly the reason why the film is recommended. It doesn’t make for an easy breezy watch but the effort shows on screen and so is the lure of catching hold of a very interesting storyline.