Cast: Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham, Lara Dutta, Esha Deol
Nutshell: a hotchpotch of borrowed ideas from recent Hollywood hits..what else is new!?
Karan Johar’s produces Kaal along with Shahrukh Khan, a fact that is thrust in your face the moments the titles roll..with Shahrukh gyratuing to the beat with Malaika Arora, reprising their jodi of Dil Se with an athletic dance to the title song of Kaal. Kaal is a departure for karan Johar in that it’s a songless film, save for the titles and the end titles, and aspires to be a spooky film, nothing like the saccharine coated films that he has produced in the past. But does it work? Soham, an erstwhile assistant is the director, not Karan so clearly the vision will be different. And it certainly is.
After the embarrassingly camp title song, the director pans to a shot of a bare tree, silhouetted against a dark night, followed by eerie animal sounds and shots of owls and snakes in action. It’s all horrendously amateurish, almost like a novice embarking on his first screen journey, which of course Soham is, but so very immature in his execution. With a start like that, alarm bells started to ring already. We cut to a gora couple out to “photo shoot” a tiger and whilst approaching it, the tiger, not happy at being prodded, attacks the couple and that’s the end of them. Only the guide is supposed to have survived.
Next scene sees us being introduced to wildlife expert Krish (John Abraham) as he cavorts with a giant anaconda, playfully rolling around in the grass with the slithering beauty when he is told by the National Geographic to make his way down to Orbit National Park to investigate mysterious deaths in the jungle. Lady Love Riya (Esha Deol) accompanies him and they set off to the Park. Running on another track are Dev [Vivek Oberoi], and his pals [Kushal Punjabi, Vishal Malhotra] and girlfriend Ishika [Lara Dutta], who having set out for their farmhouse, finally end up heading towards Orbit National Park as well where they collide with Krish’s car. Dev has a limited repertoire of words with his “cut the crap” leaving one cringing in one seats. Unknown to them, strange goings on are taking place and the mystery is on…who is killing people and why? If it’s the tigers, why have they turned into maneaters and making meals out of these poor human beings. Or are we dealing with a conspiracy..or a greater force. Are we messing with nature? Thrown together, the two groups bond together, but slowly but surely, their numbers start to deplete. Still a gang of 6, the group come across Kali [Ajay Devgan], the self-proclaimed king of the Jungle who takes on the task of getting the group out of the Jungle safely. But things don’t quite work out as planned. Who will survive the journey? Ahaa, do you really care?
Soham’s movie is dull and amateurish. Soham is obviously a keen movie addict and has borrowed from several Hollywood films. Being influenced by films is one thing, but to execute the same plot devices is not originality and an indictment that you as a first time director do not have clear vision. What was the need to include the scene which is an obvious lift from Final Destination? (a ridiculous plot device for Kaal!). And for those who watch the dirge that Hollywood churns out, you wont miss the obvious influence of films like The Ghost and the Darkness, the Blair Witch Project and a few other horror movies. Soham’s pace, even for a film under 2 hours, is slow and does not build up the requisite tension…in fact, it keeps up a modicum of tension which never goes to the extent of truly being eerie. Anyone can make a scary film by including loud music bursting out at intervals making one’s nerves jangle but that is not the true sign of a taut thriller. By and large, he simply is not able to execute what could have been a fairly engrossing film.
Ajay Devgun as Kali passes muster. Vivek Oberoi playing the brattish Dev is also passable and the only one who makes any impression is John Abraham. The girls have little to do and really, do not leave much of an impression at all. In fact, it’s all quite funny seeing Esha Deol managing to hit the jungles always in a mini skirt. And let me tell you, she’s not a patch on her mother who wore similar attire for a song in Jugnu but looked at least 100 times better. On the music front, the title song is fairly peppy and tauba tauba is wonderful but used with the end titles….you’ll get to see it only if you last out that long.
On the whole, Kaal is fairly boring and disappointing fare. Much more could be done with it. Wish they had more of the tigers, simply gorgeous beasts. Shame one couldn’t quite say that about the humans. As Dev says often enough in the film, “Cut the crap”. Give this one a miss.