What Are the Real Kalanks of Alia-Varun’s ‘Kalank’?

Kalank is a prime example of how a big star cast with commendable performances and a large canvas with beautiful art direction, cinematography and costumes cannot ensure a good engaging film.

Kalank is a wasted opportunity. Even though it has got the biggest opening day collections of 2019 by earning around Rs 21 crore on its first day, the film is also one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

We will have to wait and see how the audience treats the film in the next couple of weeks, but there are many kalanks (blots) in Kalank that ruined it.

Here are five of them.

Outdated Story

Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit in a scene from Kalank

A mediocre script very rarely translates into a brilliant film.

Our hero, an angry young man, is a najayas aulad of a tawaif (courtesan) who is seeking revenge from his rich father and his khandaan for abandoning him and not giving him his right, but eventually has a change of heart as he falls in love.

This is a plot straight out of the ’80s. Films like Trishul and Laawaris have explored similar subjects earlier, albeit in a different setting. Add to that tons of melodrama, and the film becomes unrelatable.

And then are all the tropes from the ’70s too – tragic courtesan, labour agitations, estranged lovers, illegitimate son and revenge.

Director Abhishek Varman also isn’t deft when tying in the tragedy of partition with the complicated love story.


The characters speak in aphorisms like, “Kuch rishtey karzon ki tarah hote hai ... unhe nibhana nahi, chukana padta hai” and “Naajayaz mohabbat ka anjaam... aaksar tabaahi hota hai”. Characters even go on to repeat each other's punchy lines. After a point, you stop seeing the point in these statements.

The heavy-duty dialogues by Hussain Dalal, who has previously written the dialogues of films like ‘2 States’ and ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, end up sounding contrived. In fact, some of the dialogue-baazi becomes more and more amusing as the film progresses.

Overdose of Songs

Kiara Advani and Varun Dhawan in the song ‘First Class’.

Despite some beautiful dancing against the backdrop of grand sets from Madhuri Dixit in ‘Tabah Ho Gaye’ and Alia Bhatt in ‘Ghar More Pardesiya’, Varman cannot be forgiven for going overboard with the lavish song and dance sequences in the film. There’s a mujra, a festival song, an item song – you name it and its there. Too much of anything isn’t good, is it?

In old school style both the main leads, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan, are introduced via songs. Then Madhuri Dixit gets her own dance number in the climax, Alia gets her moment to shine, and then Varun and Aditya are given one to show off their bromance alongside Kriti Sanon. There’s also a quintessential romantic song for Zafar (Varun) and Roop (Alia).

The Bull

Varun Dhawan takes on the bull in Kalank.

Apart from getting to see a bare-bodied Varun Dhawan, there was nothing cool about the bull scene in the film. Mainly because the bull didn’t look real for even a moment. The entire action sequence is cringe-worthy, thanks to the sloppy CGI.

It was almost as if the makers set out to create a Baahubali moment only to showcase their lead’s physique and strength.

The Length

You wouldn’t mind the length of a film if it keeps you engaged and excited throughout. Kalank’s story, screenplay and plot attempt to pack in too much, but achieve little.

At 160 minutes, Kalank overstays its welcome. Several scenes could have easily been chopped or shortened, making them impactful, especially the climax, where Varun insists on running behind the train (and it goes on forever) and holding Alia’s hand instead of getting into whatever bogie of the train he can.

Suspension of Disbelief

Madhuri Dixit in the song ‘Tabah Ho Gaye’ from Kalank.

Varman's version of Hira Mandi is a fantastical one, and Madhuri's kotha is perhaps the grandest one in the world. He goes the whole hog and creates an opulent Ramleela sequence too, as producer Karan Johar keeps his pocket strings loose.

Bhansali often indulges his imagination when making his epic period dramas, and there’s nothing wrong in taking a creative license, but in Varman’s case his superficial treatment affects the story-telling.

It feels too manufactured and unrealistic to invest in. Alia's character shuffles between singing, dancing and even journalism! She hears Bahar Begum (Madhuri Dixit) sing from miles away and insists on learning from her. Varun walks around shirtless all the time (not that we are complaining!). The street thugs speak excellent Urdu. Prostitutes wear expensive ornate lehengas, and the poor are super well-dressed.

All this in the name of vision and cinematic license alienates you from what’s unfolding on screen.

Also Read: Meet the Woman Who Created the Grand Sets of ‘Kalank’

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