Ten minutes into the film, I had figured the plot. But am not divulging the plot, so no spoilers! A tale of forbidden love, a marriage of convenience, an avenging illegitimate son, and the volatile communal atmosphere of pre-partition – Kalank is a colorfully extravagant 3-hour-long affair.
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Kalank opens in the year 1946, in Lahore, when a terminally-ill woman, Satya Chaudhury (Sonakshi Sinha) finds the perfect candidate – Roop (Alia Bhatt) to slip into her shoes and get to know her husband Dev Chaudhury (Aditya Roy Kapoor). The carefree, yet headstrong Roop, who mouths, “Meri azaadi bikau nahi hai”, strikes a deal. Satya’s husband needs to formally get betrothed to her.
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Little realizing how this one decision would change the course of, not their lives, but for the many around them. A parallel drama is unfolding in Lahore’s Heera Mandi, as on one side, there is unrest amongst the Muslim blacksmiths protesting against mechanization; on the other, it reverberates to the symphony of Bahar Begum’s (Madhuri Dixit) soulful voice.
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Here we are introduced to the playboy errant Zafar (Varun Dhawan), who is at constant logger heads with Bahar Begum and is vocal about his dislike for the Chaudhury’s, especially Chaudhury Senior, “Sanjay Dutt”.
The story unfolds through the eyes of Roop, who tells us how destinies were entwined, could love and revenge-co exist? As the thin line between honour and dishonour are blurred, but could that weave a different tapestry in the socio-political fabric of the time?
Opulent sets, beautiful costumes and an intense performance by the cast, Kalank is a grand affair. But way too long and with too many songs coming in-between, making the narrative tedious.
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On the question of performances, Alia Bhatt once again emerges as the scene-stealer. The fiery, defiant, and confident Roop, the actress gives a go-for-gold performance. She maintains her own, even in a jugalbandi with Madhuri Dixit, you cannot fault Alia in any frame.
Varun Dhawan, as the scarred Zafar, pushes past his comfort zone. Aditya Roy Kapoor as the restrained silent Dev, strikes a chord.
Madhuri Dixit is poetry in motion, the actress lights up the screen with her presence. Sonakshi Sinha does her bit in the limited screen-time she has, and well. Sanjay Dutt’s role is more of a guest appearance of sorts.
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Kalank is a one-time watch, and some moments will remind you of Gaddar, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and even Gladiator. Honestly, what’s stayed back with me after the film, is the film’s title track, sung by Arijit Singh’s, Kalank Nahi Ishq Hai Piya and Ghar More Pardesiya by Shreya Ghoshal. And, yes, of course, not to forget the beautiful costumes and accessories.
Rating: 3 out of 5