Director: Akshat Verma
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepak Dobriyal, Vijay Raaz, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Neil Bhoopalam, Shobhita Dhulipala, Isha Talwar, Nary Singh, Akshay Oberoi
Unfolding through a course of a night in Mumbai, Kaalakaandi showcases three parallel tracks — a man who discovers he has terminal illness decides to let go of his principles and live a little; a woman involved in a hit-and-run seeks redemption and two goons must decide if they can trust each other.
After writing an unconventional comedy (Delhi Belly), Akshat Verma's Kaalakaandi, set in Mumbai, is partially fascinating. It revolves around people who must do the right things, wrong things and wonder if what they did was right.
If you are a fan of the Coen brothers and fancy their brand of dark humour, it's refreshing to see Indian filmmakers attempting the genre as it's vastly scarce back home. The soul touching and yet amusingly absurd track featuring the inimitable Saif Ali Khan in Kaalakaandi is a testament to that achievement.
When a quintessential good guy (Saif) discovers he has cancer, he regrets wasting his whole life being proper. He decides to fulfill his bucket list, which includes tripping on acid and putting his curiosity about the anatomy of a transgender woman (Nary Singh) to rest.
Only a Saif Ali Khan can make a line as shady as, "humko aapke samaan ke baare mein curiosity hai," sound inoffensive and funny! His portrayal of a broken man is heartbreaking and liberating at the same time. You can feel his pain and his long-standing desire to let loose.
Saif's heart-warming bond with Nary Singh is the highlight of the film and will go down in the history of Indian cinema as one of the most iconic Queer moments. The two make you feel all warm and fuzzy, reminding you why sexuality is overrated and that human connect transcends societal norms and disparity.
Akshay Oberoi as Saif's cousin is pleasantly understated. Vijay Raaz stands out as well. However barring Saif Ali Khan (who must be applauded for his bold choices), Kaalakaandi has nothing to offer. What begins as a promising and edgy thriller soon runs out of gas, gags and gravitas. The other two tracks fail to make the desired impact as they lack the ability to evoke humour, thrill or any emotions.
Even as you continue to watch the film patiently, beyond a point, it's nothing to write home about. You eventually sum up your thoughts on the film by borrowing the film's expletive-laden dialogue —, 'experimental ke naam pe chu*****'?