MW Rating: ★ ★ ★

In 2 States, director and writer Abhishek Varman managed to make a usually wooden Arjun Kapoor appear charming. He’s been the assistant director for good films like Jodhaa Akbar, My Name Is Khan and Student of the Year and hence, there were high hopes riding on his first big venture, Kalank. However, Varman appears to have collapsed under the burden of managing such a big budget film (80 crores by some estimates) and big stars like Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sonakshi Sinha.

The story starts out nicely enough and we cannot credit production designer Amrita Mahal Nakai and cinematographer Binod Pradhan enough for making the film visually appealing. The shots are brilliant and the sets are a dream but at 166 minutes, we wish the editing had been crisper. Kalank is 30 minutes too long and the sequences that appeared immediately post intermission and the last 10 minutes could have been done away with entirely. The ending, especially, comes across as a little preachy.

However, at the heart of it, Kalank is as Bollywood a film as it gets. At a time when Hindi cinema is celebrating the life of the ordinary citizen – as it should – there is something to be said about a larger-than-life film like Kalank. After all, what is cinema if not aspirational, if it doesn’t let you experience a life you can never live?

Apart from Ghar More Pardesiya, sung masterfully by Shreya Ghoshal, there’s not much to be said about the songs in the movie except that they don’t appear oddly placed in the sequence of events. Madhuri Dixit’s talent is terribly wasted in the song, Tabaah Ho Gaye, even though she pirouettes like a dream and is elegance personified.

 

Sanjay Dutt shines as the grumpy patriarch of the Chaudhry family and Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt’s chemistry is on-point. The lead couple makes us root for them in the romantic scenes even as the sexy Aditya Roy Kapur broods from a distance. Kapoor is in top form here – he’s chosen a good film to make his comeback after his year-long sabbatical. However, it is Dixit who is the star of Kalank, she shines in every frame and makes even the most verbose lines sound magnificent. 

The dialogues, penned by Shibani Bathija are poetic and suit the mood but appear slightly odd considering that it’s hard to imagine that any normal person speaks so lyrically but as we said, at its core, Kalank is a Bollywood film.

Go watch Kalank for Alia Bhatt’s emotional scenes, Madhuri Dixit’s masterful acting and to marvel at the production design. It’s a good one-time watch and has its moments.

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