I loved the idea of Kaalakaandi. I loved the trailer. So I mustn’t, like many of you out there, be blamed for being excited about a film. It’s anyway way too rare these days that a film is able to pique curiosity. But there was something about this one. A man, who has never smoked or drank or had desserts or butter or had fun, is diagnosed with the last stage of stomach cancer. He is told that he has three months to live. And then he decides that he will make up for all the fun he has stopped himself from having. On paper, the story must’ve crackled. Black comedies, much like the brilliantly done Delhi Belly is about how you put together the movie. Saif Ali Khan, around whom the film is centered here, is an absolute frigging hoot. You get his pain, his dry humour, his wackiness and the reasons why he wants to live life on the edge. A bunch of sequence post interval has the actor having some genuine fun. You can make out how he is relishing his genes, his face is that of pure joy. In a tryst to pick up a hooker, he has a hilarious run-in with the cops under the influence of a hallucination inducing drug. Those are some of the most priceless scenes in the movie.
There are three parallel plots running here - a never-had-fun before variety of a man is diagnosed with a terminal disease. Next up is that of a woman and her boyfriend, who are gearing up for her US visit but they decide to stop by at a friend’s birthday before. The venue is raided and they are stuck. Third, is the tale of two gangsters hoping to make themselves a booty in one night.
But here’s the thing. Kaalakaandi makes you expect too much from it. Refrain from that. It’s not the best-written stories. In fact, the tracks besides Saif’s are frankly needless, especially the one starring Deepak Dobriyal and Vijay Raaz. The subplot wraps up as clumsily leaving you to wonder what happened. Though the sensational Sobhita and Kunal Roy Kapur get a brilliant track to play with and they sail through it beautifully. The supporting cast here is stellar. There is the charming Akshay Oberoi wearing his rightly baffled look all through. Though a blink and miss role is more than what Neil Bhoopalam deserved.
The problem is just that the rest of the plots don’t have enough meat to get our attention which is why some of the scenes involving them seem like a drag. There is a lack of balance in stories which makes the film quite dull in its second half. There is little that can really be said about the film without revealing its salacious details.
But let’s stick to saying that Saif’s encounter with a transperson named Sheela is the most nonjudgemental sequence featuring a queer character on screen in Hindi movies. It’s well written and Nyari Singh matches his energy and shares some wonderful onscreen camaraderie with him.
Eventually, I couldn’t help but wonder what’s the point of this film. What are we watching after all? A film on Life and its tenacious tendencies, Mumbai’s underbelly scene or how dangerously unpredictable is this city after all. None of it comes through in the film and you are left wondering after it’s bizarre climax, what just happened. This film is a classic example of how a lot can happen in one night but Kaalakaandi shows too little of it.