Once in a while, you come across films that don’t want to fit into any mold. That doesn’t want to please a targeted audience. That doesn’t want to convey a message or even have a typical story structure. Kala was one such unique experience. If you have seen Steven Spielberg’s first film, Duel, you would know that it wasn’t a movie with a story. It was driven by one emotion and that too from a single character’s perspective. Kala may have multiple perspectives happening in its script, but what drives this edgy bloodshed is the unfiltered human emotions. With a peculiar visual grammar to its credit, Kala was a wonderfully original attempt that escalates fascinatingly.
The house of Shaji is the premise of our movie. Shaji’s wife is Vidya. The couple has a boy. And Shaji’s father also lives with them. There are some internal tensions in the family as Shaji and his father have a strained relationship. The story here deals with the events happening over a day when some laborers arrive at Shaji’s home to harvest the Areca nut.
There is a level of eccentricity that you need to expect in the narrative. And Rohith manipulates the viewer into that mindset through the initial bits of the movie. You have Akhil George’s frames and Cheman Chacko’s cuts creating an unusual aura around the characters’ mundane daily activities in the film. And after setting up that wacky environment, the script unveils the truth that the idea here is a pretty simple old-fashioned revenge. Kala as a story doesn’t have any intricate layers. It’s like John Wick; someone killed his dog, and he is going to kill them. But it is how this revenge unfolds that makes Kala an exhilarating theatre experience. The way we are shown many open-end interpretations, in the beginning, gets a closure as we get to know who Shaji really is in terms of character.
Rohith VS and Yadhu Pushpakaran have made sure that the movie will not feel like a spoon-feeding experience at any point. And for the same reason, you would hear many people complaining about this movie, saying it has no story (I heard it as I walked out). And the makers clearly have no problem with not having a story as they are building a layered narrative based on two types of aggression. Shaji’s rage is driven by his ego, and the nameless opponent’s anger is driven by love. That generates a genuine conflict, and the showdown is an absolute blast that has arguably one of the best fight choreographies of recent times. The cinematography goes after unconventional tilts and angles that constantly remind the viewer to expect something raw. The cuts are on the aggressive side to keep the movie in that frantic space. The sound design and music also keep the intensity of the film on the higher side.
Tovino Thomas manages to bring in a change in his portrayal of the rough and egoistic Shaji. Shaji gradually becomes a helpless guy from a vigorous tone, and that transformation was portrayed pretty neatly by him. Moor is the other actor who needs to be acknowledged for delivering a captivating performance without the help of dialogues. One could sense his madness and love through the flashes of expressions we get to see in between those fights. Divya Pillai was convincing as Shaji’s wife, and the character of the rough father was safe in the hands of Lal.
The last half an hour of the movie Kala is an absolutely stunning cinematic achievement. The buildups you have seen till that point get closure. With the help of special effects, stunt choreography, and makeup, they have managed to create a sequence that looked breathtaking and cinematically fascinating. If Adventures of Omanakuttan and Iblis were quirky in a softer way, this one from Rohith VS is an unapologetic attempt, and I personally feel it is his best to date.
With a peculiar visual grammar to its credit, Kala was a wonderfully original attempt that escalates fascinatingly.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended