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Kaal Movie Review



The Film: Kaal

Dharma meets Varma!

When a trainee learns the ropes of film-making from two accomplished players -- Karan Johar and Ramgopal Varma -- the expectations from his directorial debut are inestimable.

So, has Soham learnt the ropes assiduously? Has Soham proved to be a worthy and efficient shishya to his two gurus? Most importantly, does KAAL live up to the massive expectations?

Soham amalgamates his two gurus' styles meticulously. KAAL has that edge-of-the-seat excitement of RGV movies, but the look/mounting is as lavish and also international as Karan Johar flicks.

The industry is going through a major transition in terms of creativity. The worn-out, depleted, washed-out formula is being abandoned, with the Gen X directors opting for themes that were hitherto alien for Bollywood.

KAAL is a shining example of new-age cinema. Cinema that enlightens. Cinema that entertains. Cinema that defies the stereotype. KAAL is the kind of impeccably crafted film that burrows deep into our psyche and connects with the dark, hidden terrors that lurk there.

In a nutshell, KAAL marks the birth of an accomplished storyteller in Soham.

Ace conservationist Krish [John Abraham] and Riya [Esha Deol] are entrusted with the job of finding out the reason behind the mysterious deaths caused by man-eating tigers in the past two months.

Dev [Vivek Oberoi], with his group of friends [Kushal Punjabi, Vishal Malhotra] and girlfriend Ishika [Lara Dutta], set out for an adventure trip for the weekend. Destiny diverts them from going to the farmhouse they had planned to visit and they are led towards Orbit Park, a jungle, for an unexpected ride.

The two groups bond together, but the same night the fear that revolved around the jungle comes alive. Now starts a journey with fear, panic and trauma as death is felt in the air.

The gang comes across Kali [Ajay Devgan], who takes the challenge of helping them escape out of the jungle. Together they must fight the unseen force in order to survive.

At some point, KAAL reminds you of Spielberg's masterpieces JAWS and JURASSIC PARK. Also, it bears a slight resemblance to three Hollywood films, THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS, WRONG TURN and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.

The man-against-beast struggle, if executed efficiently, can make for a compelling motion picture and must say, KAAL does complete justice to its genre. It succeeds in scaring the living daylights out of moviegoers at several points in the narrative. The atmosphere is right, the horror is mostly low-key and the story seems to be building to something.

And when the climax unfolds and the mystery unravels, you're in for a shock. The cleverly executed finale works primarily because most Indians believe in the supernatural.

As the writer of the film, Soham deserves immense credit not only for attempting something daringly different, but also succeeding at presenting it efficiently. The film has several sequences that leaves you frightened and shocked alternately.

While there are many memorable moments, a few sequences stand out above the rest --

  • The introduction of Ajay Devgan a few minutes before the intermission is fantastic. The three tigers come face to face with the characters at this point, giving you the goose bumps.

  • The killings of Dayashanker Pandey, Kushal Punjabi and Vishal Malhotra send a chill down the spine.

  • Esha's sequence at the well is bloodcurdling.
Yes, the pacing is erratic in the post-interval portions, but it's necessary to unravel events slowly and lead to the climax.

Besides Soham's razor-edge execution, three more departments that shine brightly are cinematography [Santosh Thundiyil], sound [Dwarak Warrier] and background score [Salim-Sulaiman]. In fact, the three factors are the three pillars of this enterprise. But towering above everything else is Soham's deft execution.

The songs have been placed intelligently in the narrative. Since there's no scope for the song-n-dance routine in a genre like this, the first song [Shah Rukh, Malaika] comes at the very start and the second [on the four characters], at the very end. Both the tracks are well tuned and stylishly choreographed [Farah Khan]. However, the songs are not part of the screenplay.

Special mention should be made of the SRK-Malaika track, which is simply mind-blowing. SRK's toned physique is sure to catch a lot of people by surprise!

The performances of the three lead characters are perfect. No one shows a hint of artifice or fakery. Ajay Devgan finds the right tone for his character and delivers a knockout performance. Vivek Oberoi is likeable; the role suits him to the T. John Abraham continues to show signs of a gifted actor and his performance in KAAL only cements his position further.

The girls don't have much to do in the film, except wear good make-up and appear in skimpy clothes. Both Esha Deol and Lara Dutta are strictly okay. Vishal Malhotra is efficient. Kushal Punjabi is equally good. Parmeet Sethi, as the cop, does an okay job. Dayashanker Pandey impresses in a brief role.

On the whole, a thriller like KAAL signifies the changing face of Hindi cinema and that's a step in the right direction. At the box-office, KAAL is already off to an excellent start thanks to the terrific advance booking. For its investors, the recovery from the first three days itself will be phenomenal, with multiplexes screening the film in approx. 10 shows every day and 30 shows in the first weekend itself, thanks to its short length [12 reels; 2 hours' duration]. The first week billing itself will be fabulous and by far the best this year. A sure-shot success all the way!

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