Friday, August 05, 2016

Kalyug (1981) -Random thoughts from a delayed viewing.

So recently I watched Kalyug. No, not that 2005 flick in which Deepal Shaw played the role of a Sunny Leone and she was so bad that Bhatt Camp decided that it is better to hire Sunny Leone herself for future projects. This one had real, grown up actors like Raj Babbar, Rekha, Shashi Kapoor and of course A K Hangal, was directed by Shyam Benegal and came out in 1981.Its story was loosely based on Mahabharata with many reference points borrowed from the epic.  Here is the IMDB page for it. 

(A character key is there at the end of the post. If you have not watched the film or have forgotten details, kindly refer to it.)

  • First thing first, Mahabharata is an absolute brilliance that has been handed down the generations by our culture and history. It still is the most underrated story ever told. It is the greatest legacy of Hinduism bestowed upon us and the only people who have made hay off it have been writers who can afford to cater to a niche audience. Hope with the advent of multiplex era, somebody will treat Mahabharata with the intellect, perspective and creativity it so thoroughly deserves.
  • I am so dumb when it comes to old movies. Listen family, I do blame you for that. Not you Mom ,
    though. You are the reason I can tell between Priya Rajvansh and Anita Raj. Thank you. *Hugs*

  • Karan takes wine or martini. As does Bharat. Balraj takes scotch. Mr Saxena –a petty minion takes beer. And ladies take limca. As if the road to hierarchies of power goes through the drink of their choices. Neat. (Pun not intended)
  • In the same vein, Balraj smokes his cigarette with a fancy cigarette holder while the representative of the workers’ union Om Puri’s cigarette is predictably bare. I bet the workers' representative Om Puri represents smoked nothing but beedi.
  • The use of sunglasses by Om Puri in a closed room to make an effort to merge into an environment which clearly was a few notches above in social strata was fascinating. More so, as it reminded me of Rajkumar Rao in Queen, using similar sunglasses to cut off the surroundings in CCD.
  • So many ash-trays. Ah, the corporate life before the advent of smoke-detectors, safety showers and the related paraphernalia. 
  • Useless Trivia- Only the youngest and the oldest member of the family had exact names based upon the characters of Mahabharata they were playing- Bheeshma and Parikhsit. (Karan was not a part of family, OK.)
  •  Trunk Calls. :D
  • Having Shashi Kapoor play Karna when you have Anant Nag and Kulbhushan Kharbanda playing Arjuna and Bheema does nothing to dispel the notion that Karna was the sexiest character of Mahabharata. Just saying.

    (Unrelated factoid:- Those who think Nakula-Sahdeva were just baggage handlers in the story of Mahabharata, Nakula was considered to be the most handsome person around and Sahdeva was a better administrator than all other Pandavas put together.)
  • Wonder why only the most conflicted of characters in the movie –Sashi Kapoor and Supriya Pathak- used to listen to music. The former always listened to sad violin and the latter had this belief that if shit hits the fan, one should listen to equally shitty music (What’s your problem). It was as if there was too much awesomeness to Supriya Pathak and Shayam Benegal thought, “Naah. Not Fair!!” and thus gave her a crappy track to listen on loop all day. That is the only explanation of why this song “What’s your problem” even exists.
  • Supriya Pathak was hot. Hot as in HOT. Now I know she was too adorable as Hansa in Khichdi but her look in Kalyug opened my eyes. Opened my eyes at least 2 feet wide. 
  •  Amrish Puri as Krishna was such a missed opportunity. I wish his character was developed as a clever, cunning Yadav Lord that was one of the aspects of Krishna. Wanted him to be a bit like Chaddha from Damini minus the histrionics.
  • OMG!! Did I see Reema Laagoo in a bedroom scene?? Wearing just petticoat and blouse? Being snogged no, savaged by husband Kulbhushan Khrabanda? How am I ever going to unsee that? Suraj Barjatya films will never be the same for me. I am too embarrassed here to even post a picture of her.
  • Pro tip from Raj Babbar- “विवाहित जीवन के थोड़े से साल भी अगर सुख से कट जाएँ ना तो बाकी की ज़िन्दगी भी इंसान काट ही लेता है.”  
    Discuss (5 Marks).
    By the way, Raj Babbar and wife Rekha slept on separate single beds. Just an observation, of course.
  • Was that Urmila Matondakar playing Raj Babba and Rekha’s 'son' Parikshit? How she survived in her school after this is absolutely beyond me.
  •  Did Rekha’s character suffer a miscarriage in the past? That can only explain why Raj Babbar’s eldest -Parikshit was much younger than his younger brother’s eldest- Sunil, no?
  • And what was up with Rekha’s entire character? She had her bitchy look up for so long that it was a surprise that her makeup didn't fall off halfway through the movie.
  • And I was disappointed with Rekha’s role as well. Draupadi was one of the strongest personalities in the Mahabharata which has been so conveniently ignored in almost all of the cinematic adaptations we have. Here too she was reduced to being annoyed, hurt, angry, bitchy. By the end of it I was suspicious if all her eye-rolling was over the pointlessness of it all.
  • I also found Anant Nag’s portrayal of Bharat/ Arjuna bizarre and corny. For some reason, I was wondering how good Raj Kumar would have been in the same role. Remember the last scene where Bharat in his phone call to Karan, emptied his entire repertoire of abuses on him? Now imagine Raj Kumar in the same scene with the much needed brevity he would brought into that scene.
  • A commercially flop film like Kalyug won the Filmfare award for best film in the “Main” category in 1982. Yes, such a time existed.
  • As much as this might sound like a crib post about the movie, I liked it. I liked it  very much. The story was delightfully complex. The acting was largely good and it was an entertaining movie which is where the buck stops. But I am still waiting for a better adaptation of Mahabharata. 

(Key :-- 

Karan- Shashi Kapoor- Karn
Dharmraj- Raj Babbar- Yudhishthir
Balraj- Kulbhushan Kharbanda- Bheem
Bharat- Anant Nag- Arjuna
Subhadra- Supriya Pathak- Arjuna’s wife.)