Saturday, March 26, 2016

കലി (Kali) (2016)

Director: Sameer Thahir
Writers:  Rajesh Gopinadhan
Cast:      Dulquer Salman, Sai Pallavi, Vinayakan, Chemban Vinodh
Langauge: Malayalam

The title of the film, Kali, translates as 'Anger' and it is a slang word in Malayalam. The film revolves around a man who has a propensity to get angry at everyone, including his wife, out of no good reason. It is not a story of how he overcomes this trait to achieve great things in life but how it puts him and his wife into a dangerous situation.

Sameer Thahir, another one of those cinematographer turned directors from Malayalam, was in the forefront of so-called new-gen film wave with his debut film 'Chaappa Kurish'. It was a film that was pretty good all the way through but became great due to its ending which featured a very raw-action set-piece where the two protagonists lashed out at each other without feeling the need to say anything. That was indeed a bold ending from the director but when it came to 'Kali', he compromises by having a very convenient plot development which kind of ruins the film for me. The first half of the film is pretty light and proceeds like a normal sort of film which concentrates on a peculiar trait of its main character. The film suddenly takes a left field turn when it kind of becomes a road movie where its characters are in danger. The whole of second half is setup with the introduction of Chemban Vinodh's character just before the intermission.

The point at which the film makes this turn is quite apt because if they continued in the same vain as it was in the first half, it would have become grating for the audience. Even though it plays into certain stereotypes, the second half of the film begins fantastically well as some misplaced pride from the main character puts him and his wife into a dangerous situation where they get separated. It manages to ratchet up the tension very effectively in a a believable manner. Vinayakan's character is great as it remains a bit ambiguous in sharp contrast to Chemban Vinodh's character. My problem with the film is that they could have made it much better if they didn't opt to have the 'Hero' display some heroism by taking on a large number of people and prevailing. It was a safe and convenient option from the director and it seemed a bit jarring. 

Overall it is a good watch and could have been much better with some slight tweaking towards the end. Performances from all concerned are very good and it is quite a safe role for Dulquer anyway. Sai Pallavi carried the baggage of having to prove herself not to be a one-film wonder and she manages to do that and kudos for doing her own dubbing (assuming it to be her voice). Cinematography is excellent, like you would expect from a Sameer Thahir film, and the BGMs employed are very effective. There is a tinge of comedy running throughout the film and it is another great turn from Soubin Shahir, albeit in a small role in terms of screen time. At just under 120 minutes, it is cut to right length and songs in it are rather forgettable. It has been quite a good start for Malayalam cinema this year with several good unconventional films coming out in succession.

Rating: 3/5