Romancing the past
With multiple known names attached to it, Abhishek Verman-directed Kalank releases today. The stellar cast includes current hotties Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt.
Visualised by late Yash Johar - father of producer Karan Johar - around a decade and half ago, the film is set in pre-independence era. Kalank is an emotional drama about two families, with large doses of values. The cast believes period-dramas are the new trend. Dixit who plays Zafar's mother said Kalank is visually stunning with a good storyline. "The drama, music, visuals and celebrations in such films give you a larger than life feeling when you go to the theatre," Dixit told Mail Today, citing the example of the song Ghar More Pardesiya, where "the visual appeal was beautiful with drama being played out on the streets".
Sinha agrees it's the story that would attract the audience, not just its genre. "The plot of Kalank is very strong and the characters are integral [and take] the story forward." "It's very interesting to see what happened when we were not even born," added Dhawan. "Our director has shown it very beautifully."
In a career of more than three decades, Dixit has managed to rule many hearts with whatever character she plays. Playing the introverted and emotionally scarred Bahaar Begum in Kalank, she said, she had to emote more with her eyes than through words. "She is what she is because of the bitter experiences she has gone through," added Dixit.
Bahaar Begum will remind you of her in Devdas, but Dixit said there's no similarity. "Chandramukhi was a total romantic who would do anything for her love. But Bahaar Begum is a recluse who has a lot of angst in her life." Dev's first wife Satya - played by Sinha - is a resilient and silent woman who holds the family together. "The situation she is in, I can't even imagine being there in real life," said Sinha. "She has a very important part to play in the narrative."
Roop too seems to be a strongwilled character. "What I like about Roop is even though she's young she tries to be mature in her mannerisms because of her life situation. Otherwise she's very simple and vulnerable like a child," explained Bhatt. "She has to deal with a lot of repercussions so to be that way and still be strong, evolve and also be vulnerable was like a big creamy cake which I found very interesting to scoop through." Adding to that Dhawan said, "There's a lot of burden on Alia's character because it is a tricky one. I often wondered how she will do it".
Kapoor, who returns to the screen after two years as Dev Chaudhry, is seen romancing both Satya and Roop. To prepare for the role, he read a lot of books about the politics of the time. "Since the film is set in the 1940s I had to educate myself. I researched the internet and watched old films and also Dilip Kumar's work. I had to take diction classes too."
Apart from Roop, Zafar the lohar (blacksmith), is the one to watch out for as his anger can go from "zero to hundred in a second". Interestingly, Lahore's ancient name was Lohavar - the city of lohars. When the British came to India, they brought lots of machines that took away the work from the lohars. Zafar protests against that, said Dhawan. He comes with a lot of baggage and is battling internal demons. I had to prepare a lot for this role physically. Since, we were shooting in a certain period, the way I talked, sat or walked couldn't have been contemporary so I watched a lot of old films to learn that."
Since it's a multistarrer film, if not their role, whose shoes would they want to step into? "Of course Alia's role because it's beautiful and wonderfully written," said Dixit. Bhatt in turn wanted to play Zafar while Dhawan would have loved to play Kunal Khemu's role Abdul. However, Sinha and Kapoor are happy with their roles. Neither were the stars insecure. "I like working as a team because you get to interact with everyone on the set," said Dixit. Kapoor added the director did "justice to everyone's role". Moreover, with the amount of work being put in he felt responsible to step up and give his best. For Bhatt, there was only "room for excitement, hunger and eagerness to learn".
MALHOTRA DESIGNS MAGNIFICENT COSTUMES
Along with the sets, the grandeur of the film is most visible in regal outfits designed by Manish Malhotra. Madhuri Dixit's beautiful lehengas in Kalank will remind you of the 30-kg ones she wore in Devdas. The weight is due to the heavy borders used on the skirts, but Dixit said as an actress and dancer she's used to wearing them.
For Bhatt, it was a "new experience". Her motivation to carry them lay in Dixit. "When I saw Madhuri ma'am on set and the way she [wore them], I realised I should make it a part of my experience. So instead of consuming my mind on how I am going to handle it, I decided to just accept it and make do with it. However, my character was itself so bothersome to handle I forgot about the costume." Sinha had the lightest costumes. "Each character in the film has a different look because we all come from different social strata. My saris are subdued and subtle. There's only one flamboyant red sari because that's the only celebration you see her in. At Roop's wedding, you'll see Satya in a subtle hue," she said.
Dhawan and Bhatt have given several hits together. In fact they are cast so often together, we wanted to know if they'd reached the status of "office spouse". "We are always on the verge of getting married in most of the films and nothing happens," said Dhawan, jokingly. "It's just that I connect with her, which evokes reaction and I guess this is what translates on-screen. However, we fight very well too - in real life and in movies." "When Varun and I come together, the comfort is always there. A lot of our honesty towards our role comes from that comfort and the give and take relationship we have with each other," explained Bhatt. "What's most special about working with Varun is that there's a lot of trust."
ADITYA'S 'SALMAN KHAN' LOOK
Kapoor might be new to Instagram but his shirtless picture is already doing rounds on the internet - the Salman way.
"A lot of people have been going crazy about this shirtless pic of mine," he said, laughing. "But it's no big deal. Everyone takes off their shirt now-a-days. It's just an old picture I had put up to motivate myself to get back in shape."