Director: Abhishek Varman
Duration: 2 hours, 45 minutes
When a bastard blacksmith Zafar finds out about his true lineage, he is devastated and seeks revenge. The married woman he seduces is unwittingly the second daughter-in-law of the rich landlord, who has buried a secret since long. Zafar’s courtesan mother is torn between her art and her personal life, while her pupil, her son’s new love interest, is trying harder to delve deeper into the lives and web of lies, everybody linked to Zafar is enmeshed into.
These days, star-studded multi-starrers are not the order of the day; yet director Abhishek Varman took a huge risk in bringing some of the finest actors together to deliver a movie that does not hit its message as hard as it had intended to. ‘Kalank’, which is set in an era just a few years prior to Partition, is a period drama about star-crossed lovers, their lost love, buried secrets and seeking revenge that take up most of the running time, making the film a little more than a yawn fest.
The year is 1946. The place is Husnabad, a fictional city on the outskirts of Lahore (part of Pakistan, which was still in India then). A young woman Satya (Sonakshi Sinha) is on her deathbed, worried sick about how her husband Dev (Aditya Roy Kapoor), the chief editor of The Daily News newspaper, would cope after she dies. In a flashback scene, Satya on a visit to her native village, meets with her elderly neighbour – a music teacher – and places an unusual request before him in exchange for her generosity. She requests that his young and beautiful daughter Roop (Alia Bhatt) be allowed into her household and get to know her people, particularly her husband, before she proceeds on her final journey.
Back in Lahore, in the Hira Mandi red-light district, a young ironsmith Zafar (Varun Dhawan) is forging swords and weapons, and sharing beds with nautch girls at every opportunity he can get. This is his way to channelize his anger against his mother for bringing him up the way he is. The bastard son of a courtesan Bahar Begum (Madhuri Dixit), Zafar once stirs up trouble at the rich landlord and owner of the newspaper Balraj Chaudhary’s (Sanjay Dutt) office. Not only that, he also manages to seduce Chaudhary’s now second daughter-in-law Roop.
Meanwhile, as all these characters’ story arcs go forward, the winds of Partition start to blow stronger and harder. Lahore is at the receiving end and so are the characters that are now embroiled in situations from which coming out is not as easy as it seems. Zafar learns of his secret past, seeking revenge against the man, who turned his own mother against him, while Roop, who is caught between her husband she does not love, and a Muslim man, who she is totally, deeply and madly in love with now. She cannot submit to her heart’s desire and cannot submit to her husband either. What follows well into an almost three-hour-long movie is the explanation of forbidden love and relationships that have no official name.
‘Kalank’ as the name suggests, is what the society holds unacceptable. Building on these lines, Abhishek Varman narrates a story that neither has coherence nor continuity. ‘Kalank’ simply tells a tale that we have seen umpteen times before (and mind you, more sensibly) on the silver screen but with a lot more characters thrown in for grandeur. It only turns out to be a sorry state of affairs in the end. The film is too long drawn out and while the actors try to convince us of all the good that is left in the world, it is too late. The screenplay goes on and on. Editors needed a tight hold over their art, while a little less of the grandeur could have been quite a relief. The stretched mujras and celebration of tyauhaars could have been cut short for obvious reasons too. The only plus points however, were the cinematography (though it became tedious after a point of time), the opulent sets and the grand scale on which the film is shot. Also, Madhuri Dixit’s flawless pirouettes in the song Tabah ho gai light up the screen.
As for the cast, every actor gets his share of the limelight equally. Even though Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt are the central characters, nowhere does it seem like the other actors are out of place. Madhuri Dixit can still light up the screen with her million-dollar smile and she dances like a dream. Sanjay Dutt’s extended cameo does not go waste. Aditya Roy Kapoor has sharpened his skills and is refreshing in his role, while Sonakshi Sinha, bringing back her Pakhi from ‘Lootera’ in Satya is a little disappointing. She could have done better. As for Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan, the youngsters do their best and own the game in ‘Kalank’ too. Kunal Kemmu does justice to his miniscule role.
All in all, without a proper storyline and illogical character arcs, this multi-starrer could have turned out to be a ‘blot’ in storytelling, but the actors’ efforts to keep it afloat is what makes ‘Kalank’ strictly a one-time watch.
Eventznu Rates Kalank: * ½