In one of the very first scenes in Anvita Dutt’s new film Qala, we have the lead character promoting a female journalist in a press conference dominated by men. Through that sequence, Anvita clearly states that gender politics is a clear agenda of this film. But having politics is not enough to make things connect with the viewer. An element of zest is required in writing to achieve that, and sadly that is not there in this tragedy.
The movie begins with Qala, a prominent singer in the 1930s, addressing the media after she received the golden vinyl. Some of the questions unsettle her as her past, and her journey has not been that easy. What we see in Qala is that journey and how the events in that journey come in her way of enjoying success.
Qala had the potential to put the audience in the space of dilemma as it portrays the lead character as an opportunist and a victim at the same time. Unlike a black-and-white moral conflict, greed wasn’t precisely the reason that was driving Qala to follow the dark shortcuts. But like I said, the writing’s hefty drama gives the conflicts and mind games a broad-stroke look. The predictability of Qala’s moral dilemma also reduces the impact of those moments that makes her suicidal.
Tripti Dimri, who was pretty impressive in Anvita’s first film Bulbbul, is very shaky here. A larger chunk of her screen time has her playing the teenage version of Qala. The evidently upset and literally shaking portrayal of that version of Qala looked very gimmicky. Even as the matured version of Qala, the expressions on her face looked slightly more animated. The only person who, in my opinion, cracked the meter in terms of performance was Swastika Mukherjee as, the toxic, patronizing parent of Qala. The grace in her performance and the commanding confidence in her dialogue delivery give the movie some of its best moments. Babil Khan has that naivety, which works for the character to an extent. But that elegance of a singer was missing, and it was difficult to empathize with that character for whatever he had to go through. Amit Sial was really good as the music director who gave Qala her big break.
The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-like cinematic language we see in the movie actually demanded much more nuanced writing. The way the dialogue addressed the character’s conflicts felt almost like a bullet point in the script’s first draft. The hallucinations of Qala and the metaphorical visual representation of all the changes in her life stood out like a sore thumb. The cinematography by Siddharth Diwan that goes beyond the mere gorgeous looks of constructed sets was a major highlight of the movie. The way the landscapes have been used is very impressive. The conversation scene between Qala and her mother, where her mother compares her to a Cuckoo, has a very interesting framing. Amit Trivedi’s album is an aboslute gem.
Qala has breathtaking visuals that make it visually appealing. And the way it shows another side of sexism in film industries is also impressive. But somewhere, the theatricality in the presentation takes out the life from the tale making it a mere documentation of an ethically corrupt individual’s Karma-driven journey.
The theatricality in the presentation takes out the life from the tale making it a mere documentation of an ethically corrupt individual's Karma-driven journey.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended