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It Happened One Night

Saturday, January 13, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

Kaalakaandi
Director:
Akshat Verma
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Oberoi, Nary Singh, Sobhita Dulipala, Kunaal Roy Kapoor and others
Rating: * *

A  man (Saif Ali Khan) is told in scene one that he is dying of cancer. The clean-living fellow is obviously gobsmacked. This is one of the tracks Akshat Verma’s Kaalakaandi follows in the romp through a night in Mumbai.

It is the story with most potential, and unfortunately, other pointless, clichéd and dull subplots intervene. The man, whose name is discovered only at the end, barely has time to register the trauma because his cousin Angad (Akshay Oberoi) is getting married, and suffering pre-wedding jitters.

The guy with just a few months to live, goes what-the-hell, downs a drink and pops a pill, and then drives the groom for a haircut, but Angad has an assignation with an old flame, which goes predictably wrong.

In between the drugged man’s hallucinations, two tough-talking gangsters (Vijay Raaz, Deepak Dobriyal) drive around trying to figure out a foolproof way of gypping their boss of his extortion money. (When will filmmakers drop their Quentin Tarantino obsession?)

In an upper class apartment, a young woman (Sobhita Dhulipala) is getting ready to go the US for further studies, with her insecure boyfriend (Kunaal Roy Kapur) hovering around with a panty on his face for some reason! These two decide to drop by at a friend’s (Shenaz Treasury, catching the right dopey tone) party which is raided by the cops.

If there is any bit of this hodge-podge that is moving and funny, it is the encounter of the dying man with a transgender hooker Sheela (Nary Singh). She shows the man, by now uninhibited enough to needle a cop, how to enjoy an evening with abandon and lack of shame. Sheela gives him that funny hairstyle, make-up and feathered shrug that Saif Ali Khan is seen wearing in the creatives of the film. The look probably meant to prove that an actor can consent to look ridiculous to get into the spirit of the role, succeeds to some extent; it is as if the man in this weird garb is cocking a snook at death.

Trying very hard to go for black humour and cool, profanity-laden dialogue in Hindi and English, the film does not quite work either as a comedy or as a thriller and certainly not as a rumination on mortality. Saif Ali Khan is going for unconventional roles and delivering the goods with his performances—this is one of his better ones—but consistently being let down by the writers and directors.

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