Technology has its share of advantages... and disadvantages. It's a boon... and a bane. Director Mohit Suri tackles the ills of technology in his new endeavor KALYUG.
KALYUG is a film of today. The film throws light at not just the porn websites that attract millions of eyeballs every single day, but also issues such as prostitution and human trafficking. Suri's mentor and guide Mahesh Bhatt did attempt a love story, with the Mumbai flesh trade as its backdrop [SADAK], but KALYUG goes a step further: The love story takes an ugly turn when the protagonist finds himself amidst the million dollar porn industry in Zurich.
KALYUG is a contemporary film. Porn sites and MMSs are no longer Greek and Latin for an average Indian. There have been real-life instances of private lives going public with the advent of technology. That's what KALYUG dabbles in!
KALYUG works primarily because it has been handled in the most believable manner. The story [penned by Mohit Suri] could be anyone's, the circumstances that compel the protagonist to search for answers seem so true to life and the culmination to the story is equally plausible.
Like most Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt's past efforts, KALYUG also has its share of sequences that have shock-value, but Suri and screenplay writer Anand Sivakumaran justify those portions cleverly. No wonder, KALYUG seems straight out of life, garnished well with commercial trappings.
Everything seemed normal in Kunal's [Kunal Khemu] life. There was even a pleasant surprise in the form of Renuka [Smilie], a young girl whom fate had brought to Kunal's doorstep. Soon, the two were in love, which culminated into marriage. But their happiness was short-lived.
The most sacred and intimate moment of a couple -- their first night together -- is captured on camera and put up on a porn website. Kunal and Renuka are arrested. Kunal is blamed for making blue films. Unable to handle the humiliation, a distraught Renuka commits suicide.
Kunal decides to prove his innocence and uncover the truth behind the blue film racket, which leads him straight to the dark underbelly of Zurich. Armed with only a picture of a famous Indian porn star Annie [Deepal Shaw], Kunal gets ready to find and fight a faceless foe.
But what Kunal does not know is that one man's tragedy is another man's entertainmentï¿½
You've got to give it to the Bhatts for telling a novel story in every film. Agreed, most of their works are inspired by Hollywood films, but for moviegoers in India, it's a novel experience nevertheless. Although KALYUG takes its inspiration from a real-life incident, it does bear slight similarities with the acclaimed Hollywood flick BOOGIE NIGHTS [1997; Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore], an expose on the porn industry.
If Mohit Suri tackled two plots side by side in his directorial debut ZEHER -- murder mystery and the husband-wife relationship -- he does a similar thing here. If the first 20 minutes give an impression of KALYUG being a routine love story, it changes lanes soon after both Kunal and Smilie are taken into custody. With Smilie's suicide and Kunal keen to get to the bottom of the conspiracy, KALYUG now dons the garb of a thriller. And it only gets exciting as the focus shifts to Zurich.
The post-interval portions are provocative and involving at the same time. The pace does drop for a few minutes [a song can easily be deleted], but it's a tight screenplay nonetheless with no diversions absolutely. In fact, a number of sequences in the second hour are the mainstay of the enterprise. These include: [i] Amrita Singh confronting her daughter for being openly lesbian and Amrita's sequence with Kunal soon after, [ii] Attempt on Deepal Shaw's life right till her flashback portions, [iii] The Love Parade event and [iii] The climax, which appears completely justified.
Director Mohit Suri climbs a few steps upwards as a storyteller. The marriage of content and technique is evident not so much in the initial portions, but after the focus shifts to the porn industry. Also, to Suri's credit, the director has extracted topnotch performances from the principal cast, most of them newcomers. Music is in sync with the narrative and the numbers that stand out are 'Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaye' [excellent composition] and 'Dheere Dheere' [erotic to the hilt, in terms of rendition and filming]. The remix version of 'Aadat' [on the end titles] is far more imaginative than the one before. Cinematography [Rituraj Narain] is appealing. Dialogues [Jay Dixit] are wonderful.
KALYUG would've fallen flat had the director entrusted the acting reins in inept hands. Thankfully, the actors in the film are highly skilled and competent. Seen earlier as a child artiste, Kunal Khemu makes his big screen debut with KALYUG and delivers a knockout performance from start to end. The boy exudes the intensity that very few newcomers can boast of and with a personality that grows on you, Kunal should manage a strong foothold in days to come. The youngster actually surprises you when he matches up to a seasoned performer like Amrita Singh whenever they share the screen space. An actor to watch!
Amrita Singh makes a terrific comeback to the big screen with KALYUG. One of the finest actors in the 1990s, her performance in KALYUG only proves that time hasn't corroded her acting skills. She is tremendous every time she appears on screen, mainly in the heated confrontation sequence with her daughter in the post-interval portions.
Debutante Smilie looks delicate and though she has a brief role, she does manage to make her presence felt. However, her makeup is quite inconsistent. Deepal Shaw is a revelation. The actor, who also makes her big screen debut with KALYUG, gets into the skin of her character and comes up with a performance that's sure to be noticed. Her body language coupled with her performance should take her far.
Emraan Hashmi makes a brief appearance and the actor is, like always, highly competent. Ashutosh Rana is effective. Farid, as Amrita's henchman, is efficient as well. Nisha Lalwani [Amrita's daughter] is natural to the core.
On the whole, KALYUG is a well-made film that has a contemporary and modern feel to it. At the box-office, the film has potential to carve a niche for itself at multiplexes mainly. From the business point of view, the clash of three films in a week will only cut into each other's pie. Hence, KALYUG will have to depend on a strong word of mouth to stand out.