The story of a night in Mumbai where parallel and completely different lives cross each other in a bizarre way, making us laugh at times, and wince at other times, but always pointing at the absurdity of life and the pointlessness of it all.
A straight-jacketed nice guy dealing with the news of last-stage cancer, with a little help of the red pill (Saif). A young guy tempted to cheat on his wedding night with an ex-girlfriend (Akshay). A young couple preparing for the girl’s departure to study in the US, but getting caught up in a drug raid (Kunaal and Sobhita). A gangster’s side-kicks planning a coup to make fast money (Vijay ‘Dubeyji’ Raaz and Deepak ‘Pappiji’ Dobriyal)
All the makings of a great plot. And the movie starts with a lot of promise. Saif is brilliant, and he makes us laugh almost throughout the movie. But it’s not enough to save the movie from delivering an overall underwhelming experience. The plot builds up too slowly. The dialogues aren’t as funny as they should have been. And there is an overall missing cleverness to the parallel stories, as well as how they interconnect. As a result, we neither feel the darkness nor the comedy, in this attempted dark comedy. Kaalakaandi, apparently, is a phrase in Marathi that means ‘when everything goes disastrously wrong’. The experience of the movie, certainly feels that way.
I am not a big fan of comparing one movie with another, since I feel each movie has it’s own unique story to tell. But, in this case, I couldn’t help comparing it to others in this similar genre that had much more to offer. Go Goa Gone, again with Saif, was hilarious, and even though a copy of ‘Shaun of the Dead’, it offered a mindless laugh riot in a uniquely Indian way. More recently, Death in the Gunj, again struck a chord in the dark comedy genre, with its brooding and melancholy story-telling of adolescent pain. Even Finding Fanny had a story that kept you waiting for the end, with joy in the eccentric characters that are forced to come together in a car journey.
But, of course, the biggest comparison, ironically, is with Kaalakaandi’s writer-director Akshat Verma’s first master piece, Delhi Belly in 2011. Of all the above movies, Delhi Belly, by far, is one of the funniest, coolest and trippiest movies of our time. And for that Akshat will be remembered forever. And so, it was actually a great idea to do the next movie as ‘Mumbai Madness’. But it misses the mark by a mile. May be Akshat, you need a good director to make your stories come alive in the way you visualised it. Remember, Delhi Belly had one ingredient that Kaalakaandi didn’t. Abhinay Deo, as the director.
Saif says in a vulnerable moment in the movie ‘what was the point of it all’. And you can’t help but feel that way about the movie too.
If you haven’t seen Delhi Belly, I’d say go and watch that. (my review of Delhi Belly in 2011, here http://books-booze-boxoffice.blogspot.in/2011/08/delhi-belly-2011.html). That’s what Kaalakaandi had the potential to be, but didn’t become. Alas!