Written by Siddhartha Krishnan . 3 Min Read
The Amazon prime video description of Kala, says that it is a psychological thriller. In line with this description, the many slow-motion sequences at the start, seduce you into believing that the film is one thing, before it transforms into something else. This metamorphosis is almost magical in this deeply allegorical and non-linear narrative, where two men are beating each other to pulp for half the length of this film. It takes a while to understand, that what is being handed out is not an enticing red apple, but a many-layered onion.
Kala is not a plot heavy film, and strangely, the story unravels through its innumerable fight scenes. However, this is not just a fight, it is much more! Expertly choreographed by stunt directors Basidh Al Gazzali and Irfan Ameer, these action scenes are brutal but not grotesque, and there is an unmissable lyrical quality to it. But it is not meant to excite you in the way a Jackie Chan movie would. You wouldn’t be rooting for anyone in this bloody combat, and yet watch the madness unfold with keen interest.
The film has a deep commentary on toxic masculinity but in an ingenious, non-preachy way. The screenplay by writer Yadhu Pushkaran and director Rohit VS, exhibits a level of maturity rarely seen in Indian cinema. In a scene from the film, a plane flies over the property of the lead character, Shaji. At that moment, he is engaged in a bloody duel, and the fight is captured from a height, as if to show it from the perspective of the plane. The triviality of it all comes out beautifully! But this is only one of the many perspectives explored and cinematographer Akhil George gives you an absolutely immersive movie-watching experience, ably aided by a gripping background score by Dawn Vincent.
However, it is in the two lead characters played by Tovino Thomas and Sumesh Moor that you are most invested in. The contrast in their physicality as well as their personalities sets everything up beautifully for what is to unfold on screen. A lot depended on their performances and they have, quite literally, put every single muscle of their body into this film. As a result, at the climax, we are as exhausted as these characters for all the blows (pun intended) thrown at us.
All said, don’t go into this film thinking it is only for the intellectuals, boring and too nuanced nor should you go into this film thinking it is only an edge of the seat action flick. It is neither, and a beautiful balance has been struck which makes it highly entertaining as well as intellectually stimulating. For its unique concept and execution, Kala deserves a 4/5.
Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.
Watch the trailer here.
Siddhartha Krishnan is the author of Two and a Half Rainbows – A Collection of Short Stories. He is also an enthusiastic blogger and, on his website, www.whatsonsidsmind.com, he regularly puts out his essays, articles, travelogues and movie reviews.
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