Qala Review: Triptii Dimri, Babil Khan, Swastika film is a delectable prose of jealousy, ambition and passion
Planning to watch writer and director Anvitaa Dutt’s Qala? Read Pinkvilla’s review of this Triptii Dimri, Babil Khan and Swastika Mukherjee starrer.
Rating: 4 / 5
Set in the 1940s, writer and director Anvitaa Dutt’s Qala revolves around Urmila Manjushree (Swastika Mukherjee) - an acclaimed classical singer with a patriarchal mindset - who trains her daughter Qala Manjushree (Triptii Dimri) in the art but is never completely satisfied with the latter’s efforts, skill and talent. She is soon distracted by Jagan Batwal (Babil Khan) - a local boy from Solan - who she discovers at a musical presentation, and takes him under her wings with big plans sketched out for her young protegee. This development makes Qala her second priority, and what follows will take you on a roller coaster of emotions and a few lessons too.
I have always admired movies that go beyond the classic three-act structure of narrative, and dives further into minor yet important aspects of the characters and their lives - thus offering the audience an opportunity to take certain thoughts back home with them. Qala is one such film. While on the face it is about ambition, passion and jealousy, it also delves into other pivotal topics such as mental health, impact of wrong parenting, casting couch, unfortunate sacrifices that come along with aspiration, and struggles faced by women. These subjects are finely weaved together thus offering a thought provoking content for the viewers. Kudos to Anvitaa for pulling that off with grace and sensitivity.
While her writing and direction in Qala is top-notch, the dialogues are equally impactful, with some of the best lines mouthed by Varun Grover - who plays lyricist Majrooh Sahab in the film. His lines like, “Raftaar Kabiliyat Ka Saboot Nahin Hoti” and “Daur Badlega, Daur Ki Yeh Purani Aadat Hai” are stirring and poignant.
Besides its literary richness, Qala is also visually stunning. They have made great use of lights - including sun rays, fireplace, and sparks that emit while welding - to elevate the emotions in the scene. Director Of Photography (DOP) Siddharth Diwan’s emotive wide angle shots, expressive close ups, and stunning drone sequences effortlessly pulls you into the world of Qala, while production designer Meenal Agarwal’s designs stays true to the look and feel required for the film.
However, the real hero of Qala is its music composed by Amit Trivedi and background score created by Sagar Desai. The most soothing number among the lot is Jagan’s introductory song “Nirbhau Nirvair”, which is composed by Trivedi, written by Sant Kabir and Anvitaa Dutt, and voiced by Shahid Mallya. Even “Ghodey Pe Sawaar” featured on Qala Manjushree, written by Amitabh Bhattacharya and sung by Sireesha Bhagavatula, is a memorable track that immediately transforms you to that bygone era of simple and relatable music. Huge credit for this goes to all the lyricists, music director Amit, BGM composer Sagar, and sound designer Pritam Das.
Casting by Anmol and Abhishek (Casting Bay LLP) is spot on, while costume designer Veera Kapur EE’s vision for the characters reflect in their interesting attires.
There isn’t really much to point out, except that there could have been a little more pace in the narrative in the first half. Anvitaa could have sharpened the screenplay a bit in that portion.
This is director Anvitaa and actor Triptii Dimri’s second collaboration after the highly acclaimed Bulbbul, and the duo have managed to create the magic yet again. Triptii shines as Qala bringing every emotion that she goes through alive on the big screen, while Swastika Mukherjee lives the character of Urmila Manjushree. She makes the flawed mother look both real and relatable. Irrfan Khan’s son Babil is truly the biggest discovery of this year, and the subtlety in his performance is an assurance of the strength of his craft, and the impact that it creates.
The three lead protagonists are beautifully aided by the supporting cast - including Amit Sial, Samir Kochhar, Girija Oak, Swanand Kirkire, Tasveer Kamil, Varun Grover, and Aadhya Jha, who plays the young Qala. Each one of them has portrayed their characters to the T.
Qala is literary, musically and lyrically rich - promising wholesome entertainment to the audience who are looking for quality cinema. It’s a must watch.
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