Kala Movie (2021) Review:
Hey, I’m Hammad. Today I’m gonna explain a movie named Kala which is recently released on Amazon Prime. So let’s get started…
“Kala” is a film by Rohit VS, Starting with Torvino Thomas, and Sumesh Moor. The film is set in the late 1990s but it is actually very timeless, it’s almost as timeless as nature which is a big part of this film’s texture. We get overhead shots of rugged terrain, we get shots of sunlight through leaves, when we see a man’s face it is framed through leaves.
Bodies are reflected in water, rain is a major presence. When a man searches for his missing dog, we see a dragonfly. When two men fight instead of focusing on them we are focusing that what’s in the foreground or two butterflies.
In short, we are talking about a very carefully designed film. A film filled with echoes and mirror images, early on we see a kid with a toy gun taking aim at a plane in the sky, and much later on, we see from a plane almost two men fighting on the ground, and they resemble kids. We see cobwebs on a window and later when we see a man’s spectacles that are cracked, the design seems almost like one of those corporates that we just saw.
So, this is a story about two men, the characters paired back Tovino Thomas and Sumeshmoor. Everything happens in twos, later we see two men with bandaged legs, though not necessarily these two men that I talked about earlier. We see two sets of water being used to cleanse things, one a woman taking a bath that is intercut with a sickle being washed in the water outside the house. We see two instances of people eating, one the set of people inside the house at the breakfast table and two the set of workers that these people inside have employed outside the house.
There are two instances of scenes involving missing roof tiles, there are two instances of men with black dogs and there are two instances of men who are reduced to animals. The first time we see the Tovino Thomas character he is shaking his head like a dog, he’s like bathing his dog but his head is seen in slow motion he has a big beard, he has big hair, big unkempt hair, it’s almost animal-like and when he’s shaking his head like that it almost looks like a dog that’s shaking himself, taking the water off itself after a bath.
As for Sumesh Moor with the other character he’s very often made to look like a beast and the point is that the sumesh moor character was not always this way that he became this way along the way and so we get to the film’s opening court by oscar wild. This is the quote, selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. In other words, unselfishness is basically letting other people just be not interfering in their lives, and because domino thomas character is not that way that’s when the whole thing erupts.
The characters of the two men are defined by the dogs that they own. The torvino thomas character owns his big expensive foreign breed and he actually treats it like one would treat a rolls royce, he keeps it locked in a cage, whereas, the other character sumesh moor he has a mongrel, a black mongrel that he treats like a brother like a member of his own family.
So, we’re in a story about the privileged vs the oppressed and you know which one of them smokes a cigarette and which one of them smokes a bidi but when the cigarette smoker picks up a bidi, you know that he is not that different after all.
In fact, one of the nicest touches in the movies is that the privileged man turns out to be oppressed in his own way by his father who has been demeaning him all his life. So, this is the interesting thing about Kala, all this happens but we have to wait a good 45 minutes for the story to actually get going.
What happens in those 45 minutes?
We see the semblance of a normal life, we see torvino thomas, we see his wife, we see his cute kid, we see his dad, we see workers coming to work on his plantation. In short, everything seems very normal and some viewers may think
Why are we spending so much time on the so-called civilized details of this man’s life?
Because this is how we define civilization, a home, wife, kids very normal kind of life within certain boundaries but here’s when the real point emerges after 45 minutes when the civilized layers are slowly peeled away and we discover that under the civilized nature man is actually an animal after all. Our primal emotions are just under the surface of our skin, it probably just takes a small cut for them to erupt out into the world like lava from a volcano.
From that moment on Kala is one spectacular action scene after another with these two men engaged in a battle for survival where they have to unleash their inner animals, there is a lot packed into color.
Now, let’s take the wife character played by Divya Pillai, at the beginning itself even when the so-called civilized portions of the films are happening, she says that she needs to leave the house for a while because her mindset is not all right. She wants to visit her parents and kind of get back some sense of normalcy and we slowly see what is missing in this house is that sense of normalcy, even within that civilized exterior.
For instance, even the casual exchanges between Lal the father and Tovino Thomas the son, are packed with so many underhanded insults and demeaning things. For example, the scenes between Lal who plays the father, and the Tovino Thomas character show how toxic characteristics are passed down, from one generation to another. Later, when tovino is playing with his son he says, boys don’t cry that’s the lesson that he’s trying to teach his little kid.
Kala is also about failures and how failing constantly and being reminded about this failure constantly by others can change us as a person. Kala is also about how privileged people have driven others out of their lands and preserve their lands and then they call themselves the owners, whereas, the others owned those lands earlier.
I will let you know about one more scene to show how complicated and interesting Kala is. There is a scene where tovino thomas has to ask the daily wagers that he’s employed, the people that he may have pushed or his generations earlier may have pushed out of their own homes. He’s employed these people to load sacks of pepper and take them somewhere.
Now, one of them gets hurt badly and has to be taken to a hospital. Tovino says, can’t you load the sacks of pepper first and then take him to a hospital. Normally, we’d see him as just this cruel insensitive man but what if this is also the reaction of a man who has failed so much in life that he cannot afford to think of failing again that his reaction is just that, “oh my god! at least this time I need to succeed“.
So, here’s another scene when tovino thomas and sumesh moor fight each other, their blood falls on each other, diva pillai comes home and she smells tovino and says, “this blood doesn’t smell like your blood, it smells different” and you’re wondering, how can blood smell different?… Is that really what privilege is?… that they can even smell out the so-called upper-class blood from the lower-class blood.
Kala is beautifully made, the sound design is by Don Vincent. This is a very stylized movie and the sound design complements, the stylization beautifully. The action choreography is another major highlight as is Akhil George’s cinematography which has a gala time alternating between stillness and
Now, some of the issues that I had at the movie, they didn’t kill the movie for me but I had an issue with the way the nature aspect was hammered home, a little too much. I felt I could have lived with a little less of that lesson being constantly thrust at me that we live with all these other creatures all the time.
Also, the closing portions are almost too stylized like a music video. I preferred the rawness of the earlier action sequences where it was literally like seeing two animals fight together in the forest but all that apart Kala is a superb combination of a home invasion, thriller, comes survival movie, comes a drama about class and cast.