Kalyug (2005)

 The movie Kalyug made in 1981 is contemporary with the social morays and traditions of conduct in personal and business relationships of today. Yet this 2005 remake, an ultimate romance dynamic in every aspect of an adventure film brings the setting up to an India of today, replete with the internet and a growing trend of organized crime to establish itself from a firm base in legitimate business in order to better extend its tentacles internationally.

The effect is to produce a film more intense and spellbinding than otherwise. This is a movie reflecting the struggle long passed in American society but that imposes a chilling rebuke on any that might think our “progress” has not been bought with an exceedingly high price, perhaps too high. For the devotion you see in this movie, the powerful expectations that can come about between two lovers ENHANCED by the world they live in, instead of undermined, represents a serious indictment of a society that has sunk to granting celebrity status to gang-bangers merely because they rap and the idle daughters of the rich, because of media manipulation. Reality TV has come to extend the dimensions of this vapid cultural decline even more.

Normally this reviewer would not take the license to approach a movie not presented in his own language (it is subtitled) and so remote to his own background. However, this movie excels in both its universal message and in its graphic way of delivering it. Easily done when the character complexities in the roles are not burdened by the ambiguities of not knowing, “right from wrong” or the indulgence of sublimating life styles on the verge of their own tragedies.

Ultimately this is a film of heroic epic, much more so than that found on the battlefield with foes clearly defined and with your “support group” armed to the teeth and ready to back you up. No, our hero here is opening a way into an abyss very few, especially the police, will dare challenge.

The question is, is this believable? Or better, does the movie, its direction (Mohit Suri,) and writers (Jay Dixit and Anand Sivakumaran) bring the extraordinary into the realm of the credible? To this reviewer they triumph, but to others they may not. Much of what is required to do this is in the interpretation of the roles played and how they are delivered. What’s left is in the character delineation we see taking place in two particular roles. Can people be brought to life-changing (even life threatening) moral epiphany on a dime? The viewers are left to answer these questions for themselves. But before any take the easy way out consider the realities already at play and in the news everyday. Human bombs, genocide, a return to nuclear proliferation, and racial and ethnic hatreds played to on scales never before seen….well, these are not just realities, they are “unreal” ones. Why not some of the good kind?

The depth of a young woman devout to her beliefs and traditional standards creates, in the role of Renuka, elegantly portrayed by Smiley Suri, the very embodiment of what wistful beauty can be in the example of innocence. Done so well, or so it seems to this reviewer, Smiley Suri is rapidly becoming a very hot celebrity item on the international scene.

Opposite this illumined beauty is the role of Kunal, served convincingly enough by Kunal Khemu. Even more demanding than Renuka’s, Kunal must maintain a level of uncompromising conviction throughout facing a world he has never imagined before, and one whose enticements he must patently reject on the basis of revenge and setting things right. In the process he acquires wisdom beyond his years and a spirit of conciliation with those victimized as has he been even though some may have participated in the tragic loss of his young bride so recent in taking their marriage vows. That he can end in extending his hand to another (Annie, performed brilliantly by Deepal Shaw) so clearly fallen (yet as much a victim of white slavery and international crime’s syndication of it as he and his dead wife) may seem unlikely to many but then to many, it is a service to mankind to hope that such merciful magnanimity can exist. For if it can we find a dimension to heroism yet to be obtained by even the super heroes of today. Any and all.

Highly suitable to teens and those still able to be touched by Romeo and Juliet comparisons.

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