Kali: I Saw It in the Theater! So I am Posting a Spoiler-Free Review In Case You Haven’t Seen It Yet!

I actually went to a theater and watched a Malayalam film!  I am so proud of myself.  Of course, I cheated a little and picked a movie with a title I can actually pronounce without struggling.

So, Kali!  It’s an amazing movie.  The plot moves in a crazy direction in the second half, so I’m not going to talk about any part of the plot at all because I am too worried about spoiling it.  But I am going to talk about overall themes and aesthetics!

There are two overall themes, which sound conflicting on paper, but actually work great!  Our hero is struggling with his rage problems, but at the same time, he and his wife and struggling with how to function as a team, how to attack problems like this together without expecting too much of either partner.  The whole movie keeps going back and forth between the two themes, finally resolving both of them simultaneously in the last few minutes.

While Dulquer and Sai Pallavi are onscreen for almost the same amount of time, it is really Dulquer’s movie.  Which isn’t to say Sai wasn’t wonderful.  She was!  She really really was!  But her role was to be the support and sounding board while Dulquer worked through some stuff.  In terms of both their interactions, and the way they functioned in the plot, she was the reactor while he was the actor.  And Dulquer really really acted!  Both in terms of being an “actor” and in terms of selling every since action of the plot through his character’s decisions.

It looks like the director’s previous movie was also with Dulquer?  Maybe I should watch that one, Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (there’s one of those titles I would be nervous about pronouncing at the ticket counter!), because he collaborated fabulously with him here.  Every scene was shot and cut just right to best highlight his performance.

And highlighting his performance also meant highlighting the most important parts of the film.  Dulquer’s face and body language reflect every little change in his thoughts and emotions, and it is those thoughts and emotions that are driving the movie (ha!  It’s a pun!  That will make sense after you watch the film).  Even the none Dulquer actors are used perfectly, there are loads of little side glances and half finished conversations that tell you everything you need to know about everyone, from random co-workers to neighbors to relatives, they all feel sketched in and real.  Just like the whole world feels real here, and therefore scarier.

Which brings me to the camera work and background music.  It’s the real world, but slightly askew, with a minor note of terror running through it.  It feels like we are in Dulquer’s head, constantly seeing the world as a danger and and irritant.  It’s brilliant!  And very unpleasant.  Thank goodness there are also a couple of nice love songs to give us a break.

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6 thoughts on “Kali: I Saw It in the Theater! So I am Posting a Spoiler-Free Review In Case You Haven’t Seen It Yet!

  1. wow…congrtz for your first malayalam movie on theatre…i am yet to watch it…but will not miss it because of sai…love her so much

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  2. she is bold enough to act without any make up and with all those pimples…something other indian heroines cant think about…and very natural in acting too…

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  3. I didn’t get any favorable reports from the people in Kerala who had watched the movie.But your review has piqued my curiosity.The director Sameer Thahir was the cinematographer of Bangalore Days and was mentored by Amal Neerad. Like his guru his movies are visually super-satisfying but lacks…a certain something. I feel it true in the case of Amal Neerad(his movies look very Bollywoodish) and Santhosh Sivan. So maybe it’s something common to all cinematographer-turned-directors.

    Dulquer is getting better at his craft with every new movie.I don’t think that Sai, (much as I love her natural looks) went totally makeupfree here(at least from the promos).Very tastefully done and minimal but it’s there all the same.

    Neelakasam pachakadal chuvanna bhoomi is a mouthful.It’s good that they went for something short and meaningful which describes the hero’s mood and gives an idea about the movie.Kali is a character in Nala-Damayanthi’s story and infests Nala when the latter forgets to wash his feet one evening, and eventually leads to Nala losing everything(except Damayanthi of course).Does the movie have any connection to the myth?

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    • Oh wow, I just looked up the myth, and it is so closely related! I almost want to re-write the review to discuss the connections! But at the same time, the story feels very real and modern and human. Probably because the best myths are based on truths, like how personality issues can come up between husbands and wives after the wedding. But yeah, even down to the separation between the two, it’s all there!

      I also looked up Amal Neerad. I haven’t seen any of his movies, but based on his filmography, it looks like he himself was mentored by Ram Gopal Verma? Who’s films I also often find empty. This movie though, the visuals were good but, at least for me, they were in service of an actual real feeling plot and characters. Well, except for the very first five minutes. That is super arty and fancy. But then it calms down.

      If you do see it, I’ll be interested what you think! And also, then you can read my spoiler-y post going up in a second!

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  4. datablue…film is getting good reports here and good collections after some usual initial degrading by some fans…already entered the profit zone….same happened with action hero biju too…

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