Kala Review: This Tovino Thomas, Sumesh Moor And Divya Pillai Starrer Is Savage And Pointless

"In Kala, there is a huge chasm in the way the plot is pitched and the way the director executes the plot," writes Subhash K Jha. Read the full review here.

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Kala Review: This Tovino Thomas, Sumesh Moor And Divya Pillai Starrer Is Savage And Pointless

The sheer brutality of the one-to-one battle to a bloodied finish between estate owner Shaji (Tomino Thomas) and the unnamed adversary (Sumesh Moor) from the  underprivileged sections, is a  metaphor  of the class-war.

 Yeah, I  got that. What else? What is Kala, which by the way has been widely appreciated, actually trying to say? Or more importantly,  do?  There is  a huge chasm in the  way the plot is pitched and the  way the  director executes  the plot.  To begin with , this is a scuffle between the haves and have-nots which takes  on a very personal and brutal  tone  when Shaji, a bit of a wastrel and a wheelerdealer  though a caring husband and father, gets  into  a fight with a local low-caste brute whose  dog he  has killed.

Now  the unnamed  underdog wants Shaji’s  dog. You know, an eye  for an eye and a woof-woof for a woof-woof.As  the plot progresses the class war  is narrowed  down to two  grownup men slumming  it out by slamming each  other  like two angry coconuts ready to explode. 

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Evidentlyy  the  director enjoys  the  Chinese martial arts films which specialize  in one-to-one  combats. We even  see  Shaji’s son watching a  Jackie Chan film on a video tape(is this  the  1990s?). This  endless pointless combat  film  shot in  the  cinematic greenery of Kerala,  resembles a Bruce Lee  or  a Jackie Chan  film .

  The  violence is underlined  by  a tone of menacing anger  referencing  centuries of  inequality  based on the class and caste system.  Inequality breeds  ire,we get that. But that  reference, I am afraid, is lost in  acres of a  stylishly  edited  two-man  gangwar which after a  point  begins to appear ridiculously  and disturbingly gratuitous.

The   first-hour is devoted  to establishing Shaji’s troubled  relationship with his  father(Lal, brilliant as ever) and his  sexually charged relationship with his  wife(Divya Pillai). The intimate  sequences between the pair filled with  cigarette  smoke(smoking is  not injurious to  the characters  , they do it  non-stop)   and   kinetic passion  bears no  significance to the  plot as  it hurls  into a violent anarchic  combat between  two men behaving like boys fighting in  the school playground  .

The hour-long fight  which stretches  from the  foliage-thick plantation to inside Shaji’s  home gives us two heroes, and none  of them is on screen. It is cinematographer  Akhil George and  editor Chaman Chakko  who must have  had a really tough time  following  the  two violent  men through their  one-to-one warfare.

It’s a  miracle  how the pair survives after the  way they batter and bludgeon  one another.The  bigger miracle is how this pretext for  a stylishly freestyled  scrimmage has impressed  some critics who  obviously think raw is  beautiful. Not always. Not when the  intention  of  the  film is  to mix Shyam Benegal’s social protest  with Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo. Not when the  underdog is made to snarl and  make faces  suggesting a deeprooted psychological  apathy.

When  the fight  is about to  reach a  climax, the unnamed  underdog played by  Sumesh  Moor(over-acting till his jaws  must have hurt) suddenly  imagines his opponent as a  pig awaiting slaughter. ‘Porking’   fun at the  class difference, eh?  Good luck to  a world  where men settle scores  with their bare fists. The cops, I guess, are  busy elsewhere.

Image source: IMDb
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