Kalank has all the theatrics and posturing of an epic stage act. The setting is more surreal than real. The dialogue is more verse than verbose. As a grand play or pantomime, it would have been a magnificent watch.
The film is a visual treat. The production design is the highlight of the film. Art director Amira Mahal Nakai has created a magical world within an imaginary town called Husnabad in Lahore, Pakistan. The newspaper office, the sweeping rooms of the haveli, and the magnificent, ruinous mansion of the courtesan – these sets are sumptuously created with great attention to detail and flair.
However, as cinema, it has almost nothing to offer beyond the visual spectacle.
It is weak screenplay writing when every important conversation in a family is shown on the same dining table, shot in the same way. It is poor character writing when all the leads are shown to be saying the same thing about their backstories in order to explain their own actions. It is poor dialogue writing when both an educated Hindu editor and an illiterate Muslim blacksmith sprout beautiful Urdu lines with no regards to their characters. It is weak scripting when the final act kicks in exactly the way it was anticipated at the beginning of the movie. The story has a lot to work with – a period film about a wealthy family and their fast declining personal lives, set in the time of Partition. The writers are simply unable to capitalise on the core idea and build an engaging piece of cinema out of it.
At almost 3 hours, the film does not have enough meat to sustain interest. With an ending that is known from the moment the film begins, there is no anticipation about what will unfold.
Hindi, Period, Drama, Color