There’s no doubt a decent amount of expectation from Akshay Verma’s directorial debut, considering he wrote one-of-the-funniest, craziest, and zaniest dark comedies of all time in Delhi Belly. Sadly, his foray into direction masquerades as a wannabe of his own masterpiece, without ever even coming close to touching its toes. Kaalakaandi is nowhere near as trippy as Akshay might have intended nor does it offer any slice-of-life moments that we can identify with in a piece of alternate cinema. It’s not even remotely funny to make offer a pleasant deviations from the inexplicable shenanigans that clutter the narrative.
As shown in the trailer, Saif Ali Khan is detected with cancer, and that sets him off on a trip and us, down an extremely insipid path. He decided to do just about everything he hasn’t done till that point on account of his goody-two-shoes lifestyle. Now that was a recipe ripe for comic brilliance, especially with actors of the caliber of Vijay Raaz and Deepak Dobriyal for company, and exciting talent like Kunaal Roy Kapur, Shehnaz Treasurywala, and Sobhita Dhulipala to boot. Alas, not only is the opportunity squandered, but the talent on hand is also completely wasted. Saif Ali Khan gets the meatiest role and he sinks his teeth into it like he often does with slick, stylish characters, but it all has little to no meaning when the proceedings give you a terrible migraine not quite unlike the effects of an LSD drug and a bad hangover, which Saif’s character begins to experience toward the end of the film.
Three simultaneous plots run parallel to each other – Saif’s trippy mess, Sobhita and Kunaal’s romantic issues, and Raaz and Dobriyal’s get-rich schemes to get out of their lives as small-time henchmen – but they never converge seamlessly like they did so well in Delhi Belly (the comparisons are bound to happen when the same talent attempts something similar and fails miserably), nor do any single individual plot-line reaches a concrete realization. If Akshat was aiming for open endings open to interpretation, then, sorry, because these are nothing but abrupt endings, which end up too convoluted and incoherent to even attempt something as brazen as an interpretation.
As for the dialogues, well none of them will quite connect with the masses and neither will the music; except for some we’re-too-cool-for-mainstream-Bollywood pseudo-hipster types, who, secretly, may themselves look at the film with scorn but would be too nervous to admit it for fear of not fitting in with the ‘cool’ brigade. The film runs less than two hours, yet it feels so drawn out, which is perhaps the biggest indictment that could be said about it.
So, is there anything good about Kaalakaandi? Well, nothing much if you leave out Saif’s performance and some of the arresting VFX, used to try and convey the trippy feelings of LSD. More worrying is how the film tries to endorse the message of nihilism in a day and age when callousness, apathy, and devaluation of life – both of oneself and those of others – are exponentially on the rise. This one isn’t just a total mess, but a nihilistic mess at that.
Movified Rating: 1.5/5
Images Source: Cinestaan