Kalank is technically a multistarer, but for a Rs. 80-crore production it does not have the sort of crowd pullers who can assure a bumper opening. So what the film does, and does pretty well, is rely Karan Johar, it conjures up a world where artists and artisans collide over their divergent approaches to life and love.
The production design(Amrita Mahal Nakai) and the cinematography(Binod Pradhan) are impressive while Varman orchestrates the resources at his disposal – they are no doubt enormous with flair and a sense of proportion. If only the later attribute had been extended to the film’s length, Kalank would have shed some of its flab. We hear KL Saigal’s voice on the soundtrack ever so faintly in one passing sequence and a couple of classically inspired numbers designed to evoke the soundscape of tawaif’s home of an era gone by, but the rest of the film’s music be it admittedly lively songs or the elaborate background score- is not exactly rooted in the period it is supposed to represent.
The film’s opening scene it plays out in 1946, in fictional Husnabad on the outskrits of Lahore introduces us to a terminally till woman Satya(Sonakshi Sinha) who is worried stiff about what will happen to her newspaper editor husband Dev Chaudhary(Aditya Roy Kapoor) once she is gone. I am dying, she tells her doctor. She follows that up with a question-“Mere pas kitna waqt hai. It is delivered with such nonchalance that she could well have been asking a family help.
Satya is at the door of an ageing neighbour in her native village in the Rajputana region. The man is a classical music guru who could do with a largesse. So he agrees to allow his daughter Roop (Alia Bhatt) to travel to Lahore and live with Satya and her husband. The idea is to let Roop ease into the household before the ailing woman breathes her last. The young girl si no pushover: she insists on a formal betrothal before she relocates to the Chaudhary home, where a feudal patriarch (Sanjay Dutt in an extended special appearance) can only look on in bewilderment as his daughter in law plots her husband’s future.
Almost three hours long, Kalank is inevitably a touch stretched at times. Howeverm the actors, not the least Varun Dhawan in What is by far the meatiest role of his career, throw everything that they can muster into the mix, giving the plot both potency and pathos. Playing a young man scarred in spirit and body, Dhawan exudes zest as he ventures well beyond his comfort zone and consistently strikes the right notes.