Kaala (Streaming on Disney+Hotstar)
Rating: * ½
Coming from one of my preferred directors Bejoy Nambiar,Kaala is especially disappointing. Its jumpcut style of storytelling whereby we the viewers have to constantly keep adjusting and readjusting the plot’s timeline, is not only exasperating; after a point it all begins to seem like a monstrous waste of (our) time and (their) energy.
I have always admired Bejoy Nambiar for being a stylish storyteller who never allows the content to be smothered in a visual tango. This time it’s different. The frames groan under the weight of their audacity.
The title Kaala refers to the black hawaala money,or maybe even the dark intentions of the characters or just the ponderous mood that prevails throughout. It really doesn’t matter. This is a lost cause from its flagrant opening.
Bejoy opens up the canvas to accommodate illegal activities at the India-Bangladesh border. There is a tunnel explosion sequence early in the plot where junior artistes run in panic .This is not the kind of visual experience that translates well on the OTT medium.
Kaala thinks big. But executes its vision poorly. All the main actors seen strapped to skimpy characterizations. They are national do-gooders waiting for one line, one scene even one shot that would give them a chance to override the series’ obstinate nullity.
Avinash Tiwary who is also seen in this week’s other OTT series Bambai Meri Jaan, for once crosses to the right side of the crime line, but is constantly pulled down by the jumpy plot and graceless visual style whereby saturated frames become, not a style statement, but an annoying afterthought to what must have seemed like a routine crime-busting tale.
Rohin Vinod Mehra and Jitin Gulati are left bereft after the plot overruns all rationale. We have a kingpin villain (Taher Shabbir) whose hawaala racket Avinash Tiwary’s character Ritwik wants to shut down at any cost. He takes the help of West Bengal’s chief minister who gives Ritwik a freehand to get the slippery villain.
“But we don’t have any concrete evidence against him,” Ritwik protests.
“He just tried to bribe me, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, isn’t that a crime?” Mita Vashisht playing the CM, retorts.
A bigger crime is to cast actors like Vashisht and Tiwary in roles that barely allow them to breathe, let alone show their worth.