18 Nov 2016
‘Kaul – A Calling’ Marathi Movie Review: An Experience to behold!
Cast: Rohit Kokate, Deepak Parab, Makrand Kajrekar, Saudamini Tikle
Producer: Chin2 Singh, Uma Mahesh Keluskar
Director: Aadish Keluskar
Images: Ameya Chavan
Montage: Samira Kidman
Sound Conceptualizer: Piyush Shah
Sound Designer: Rhitwik Raj Pathak and Siddharth Dubey
How often do you have a film that lives up to its tagline (vichitrapat in this case)? It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Kaul – A Calling is a one of its kind film from India. It indeed is vichitra. It is bold; it is deep; it is unconventional; but, most importantly, it is engaging. You are riveted to the screen. You may not always comprehend whatever is happening on the screen, but you somehow enjoy it. It is an experience difficult to put into words. But let me try.
The debutante Aadish Keluskar’s film has only a semblance of a story; just an excuse to explore the mind of a man bordering on insanity after experiencing a miracle. That the film doesn’t give a damn about conventions is clear from the opening title sequence itself. We have a camera attached to a vehicle facing upwards as the titles roll down on the night sky lit by incandescent street lamps. The heads on the title also break conventions. We have a ‘Montage’, a ‘Image’ instead of the usual ‘Editor’ and ‘Cinematographer’. It shows that the director has an original voice and is not willing to sacrifice it even in the opening titles. What follows is a visceral cinematic experience that leaves you with a high.
The film is filled to the brim with thoughts and philosophies. It probably isn’t possible to comprehend all what the film says. But that is beside the point. Keluskar primarily wants you to feel the film. He takes you on a deeply immersive cinematic experience. And he does all this by throwing the rulebook outside the window. The characters many times are not even wholly in the frame. The scene immediately after the lead character experiences the miracle is a fine example. The camera is stationary at a height of say a dining table, in the scene. We see the lead character (Rohit Kokate) of a teacher, trying to come to terms in his dingy room with the miracle that he just experienced a few moments ago. Many times in the long scene (the average length of the scenes is quite long) the teacher is not even fully in the frame. This way Keluskar fearlessly bends rules and skillfully makes them work to his advantage.
The camerawork is certainly noteworthy, but it is the carefully and elaborately designed sound that goes a long way in giving the film its eerie touch. In the whole talk about film being a ‘visual medium’ the impact of sound is rather discounted. Watch Kaul to know what a rich cinematic experience sound can give. The director many times heightens the ambient sound of the scene to depict what must be going inside the character’s mind. This is best felt in the last scene when the ambient sound rises to a crescendo to great effect.
The highlight of the film is a long dialogue between the teacher and an old man who tells him about ‘neti’- a path for the insane like the teacher. Kaul gets into poetic mode once the conversation starts. As the old man spews some wisdom with crackling humour, we are shown visuals that seemingly don’t have any connection with dialogues. But all of it has a hypnotic effect on you. It is filmmaking at its effective best.
What sets this film apart is that it doesn’t do the thinking for the audience. There is no spoon-feeding; absolutely no dumbing down. The director doesn’t underestimates his audience. He considers them capable of forming their own interpretations of the film. He considers them to be sensitive individuals capable of taking back home their own unique experience from the film.
Long after the film has finished you keep pondering about it. You try to find your way through the maze that the film was. The thematic depth of the film deserves a long essay in itself. But you try to comprehend the film only after you have been bamboozled by it. As you sit in your chair once the film is over and even before you attempt to process what just unfolded on the screen, you realize that you got an unparalleled cinematic high. Kaul leaves you with a cinematic experience that hits you on the gut level and not just intellectually.
Now, such a film getting a release in the theatre is a miracle in itself. These days when even slightly offbeat films find it difficult to see the light of the day, it is indeed exceptional that a daringly experimental film like Kaul is getting a release. The distributors deserve special kudos for stepping in to support such cinema.
If you are a bit adventurous in your taste of films, Kaul is an experience you shouldn’t miss at any cost. It is not every day that you get to watch such films on the big screen. Trust me; the film will give you a high which you never thought cinema could.
(PS – Our standard template of reviewing films have been done away with as it did not seem fitting for this one of a kind film)