“When someone else’s destruction seems like your victory, then there is no soul more broken than yours in this world.” –Kalank (2019)
Kalank is a film that takes place in 1945 India during the pre-colonial era, and it is a film solely successful due to the web of words that the writers, Hussain Dalal and Abhishek Varman, have woven. Each dialogue is not simply something that is said, but the words chosen are so purposeful that it makes the viewer reflect on what message the characters are trying to convey.
The grace and solace that was uniquely hidden within each syllable, each character, left me dumbfounded while watching the film. Unlike other Hindi films that utilize a modernized version of Hindi, Kalank utilized the original and pure form of Hindi and Urdu, the two languages that could only be found in the classic, black and white films made in the 1950s. The purity of the language and the brutality of the subject corresponded like raindrops on a rosebud. An example of a soulful line would be when the character of Dev, played by Aditya Roy Kapur, states that “certain relationships are like debts… we do not have to fulfill them, but we repay them.” The dialogue goes on to describe the value of a relationship within Indian culture, but also displays the burden that comes with it to the audience. In the film, the relationship between Dev and his wife, Roop, is not one of love but one of forcefulness and devastation; for both of them, this relationship is alive only due to familial pressures, not due to love. Therefore, the dialogue represents how each character feels in a clear and direct manner.
Kalank is a film about six individuals that have been brought together due to one ill-fated decision. Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapur, Madhuri Dixit, and Sanjay Dutt are brought together in a tale that has destruction and pain marred throughout it. As the plot thickens, past connections between each individual begin to become more clear.
The beauty hidden within Kalank are those hidden connections — the heart palpating relationships that became the scarlet thread of the film.
A relationship that had me intrigued throughout the film was the relationship of Satya, played by Sonakshi Sinha, and Roop, who is played by Alia Bhatt. Roop is the second wife of Satya’s husband Dev, yet for some strange reason, there is a nameless bond between both women. One would assume that the bond that encases the two of them is one of sadness, maybe even regret for being responsible for the situation they’re in — but surprisingly, it is actually one of admiration. An uneducated woman suffering from cancer and a woman whose pride had lost against her sense of duty, both bound together due to unchangeable circumstances. Their unique relationship reminded me of the borders that exist between the women that live, breathe, and create in our society today. Whether it be an uneducated woman that works in the fields all day long in the gruesome heat collecting coffee beans, or whether it be a woman who works as a nurse all night and takes care of her three children during the day, or whether it be the old woman who has educated her children by taking up two jobs all her life. The borders exist. Borders can include education, wealth, propriety, and even caste and status, but these borders exist. The borders subsist between these women just as they did between Satya and Roop, but the admiration that we hold for each and every woman works as the fierce light that we utilize to break those borders down.
Just as Satya felt a certain companionship with Roop, as women, there is something that binds us together.
This bond helps us marvel at each other’s accomplishments, and brings us together to mourn and celebrate the failures and successes of our kind. Kalank is not a film solely about the power of women, but it also depends on how you watch the film. Kalank is about understanding the feelings that we take for granted every day, and how those same feelings can someday become our destruction. I will not speak on the cinematography or the camera angles, but I will advise individuals to watch this film with an open heart.