Finally, after 73 cuts Kaalakaandi hits the silver screen. Akshat Verma's directorial debut seems to have started where he left it, only this time around he adds up directing. After Delhi Belly, he continues to explore "unsafe projects", which appeals and on the other hand Saif looks to have made a comeback with his new film. The question is will he give the audience what they are looking for with stiff competition from Anurag Kashyap's Mukkabaaz and Vikram Bhatt's 1921.
The action takes place in Mumbai and begins with Vineet (Saif Ali Khan) getting to know about his stomach cancer in a comic conversation with his doctor. In spite of being the 'good guy' all his life, when the cancer news hits him, he decides to let go of his righteousness and live life to the fullest. He decides to try everything but things go wild after he takes a cute little hallucinating drug which he doesn't regret at all.
The plot develops on the very night when more characters find their lives in a similar upside down.
With Saif playing the protagonist, the story unfolds with three parallel tracks joining to serve a poetic justice at the end. The two messenger goons, played by Deepak Doriyal and Vijay Raaz, dream to climb the ladder straight up with a shady plan but ultimately end up meeting the ugly reality amidst greed and deceit, laying bare Mumbai's dark underbelly.
Vineet's brother Angad develops second thoughts about his marriage after he gets a call from his ex-girlfriend is soon consumed by his guilty past which starts to cloud his decision.
Meanwhile, the audience comes across another guilt-laden character in a woman who plans to pursue her PhD abroad meets the unforeseen.
The story develops sluggishly in the first part and has every potential to bore the audience. It grows thick only after the intermission when more action catches up but in an over-dramatic way followed by rain, every single time until the very end. It is a rainy Mumbai night setup but why after every crash, murder or during a romantic scene? Certainly, some parts were too cliched to miss.
National award-winning actor Saif Ali Khan is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. With his decked-up attire and acting in a surreal setting, he does raise some eyebrows especially after the 'red star' drug takes him on a jolly role. Enabling him "to hear the lift breathing" and watch dolphins swimming on the street and much more. His acting keeps the story intact but doesn't always give the audience giggles.
Actors like Deepak Doriyal and Vijay Raaz provide a good mix but a lot more was expected of them. Their performances weren't anywhere close to that in Tanu Weds Manu Return and Run respectively. Aamir Khan seemed to have taken the reigns of promotion in his hand when he tweeted praising the film but this dark comedy had some serious comedy missing.
Making his directorial debut Akshat Verma brings in his trademark unconventional style, very similar to Delhi Belly which mostly found its name and success because of its crudeness and sexual candour. This film, too, falls along the same lines in terms of the style and script adopted, with few of the Delhi Belly actors also recast.
Kaalakaandi didn't follow the regular predictable style or the storyline (but that doesn't mean it will get you thinking like a Tarantino film).The question is would it work? Frankly, it didn't. The film seems to have a specific audience(mostly urban youth ) in mind and would give them a reason to walk in to the theatres but others might want to give it a pass.
Director: Akshat Verma
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ishi Talwar, Deepak Doriyal, Vijay Raaz, Kunal Kapur, Shenaz Treasury, Shivam Patil