A young married couple share a light moment in their living room. Her mobile phone buzzes. A crunch, as she bites into her snack. That’s it. He turns into an angry monster, strikes the snack bowl, and screams at the now quivering woman. Moments later, he calms down. They hug. Laughter returns.
This is an average day for Kali’s protagonists, Siddharth and Anjali. He blows a fuse. She puts out the fire.
Sameer Thahir’s Kali (Rage) revolves around Siddharth (Dulquer Salman), an impulsive and impatient youth who suffers from intermittent explosive disorder (IED). He married his sweetheart Anjali, against their families’ wishes. They embark on the task of making a home and building up a life. Theevram deja vu, anyone?
It is hard, especially for Anjali, because Siddharth is a ticking bomb, ready to explode any moment. And it doesn’t take much to set him off. The first half of the movie tracks their life after marriage. He finds a bank job. His parents have been reconciled. Anjali supports him. Siddharth tries to rein in his anger.
But it isn’t easy.
Anjali’s cheerfulness and calmness brightens up his days, but often, Siddharth is out of her control. When that happens, she walks out of the situation. She knows very well that, like a lost puppy, he will follow.
A disorder he has had since childhood. Possibly, he inherited it from his now weak and brooding father (well portrayed by director VK Prakash).
Kali could easy have been another documentary style film, like Spirit, Da Thadiya or NeeNa, where the protagonist goes into rehab. But, thankfully, it’s not. There’s no doctor’s room, no lengthy explanation of the medical intricacies of IED.
In a thrilling second-half, reminiscent of Anushka Sharma’s NH10, Siddharth’s rage lands the two in a serious predicament. Even there, Kali doesn’t search for permanent solutions to the anger issue. Siddharth doesn’t undergo a major change and become zen-like. Instead, the story proceeds realistically.
Though he is the protagonist, Kali doesn’t explore Siddharth’s persona beyond his anger problem. What is it about him that draws such a charming, intelligent and kind girl like Anjali towards him? We don’t know.
What we do get is a subtle exploration of Sai Pallavi’s Anjali character. She’s hopelessly in love with a man she can’t even have a decent conversation with. His aggressive nature jeopardises her social relationships. On screen, the two share great chemistry. Sai Pallavi, a one-movie old actress, plays her part like a seasoned artiste: flawlessly. Anjali’s non-Malayalee background certainly helps Sai. And in every vital scene, she outshines her co-star.
Dulquer’s performance is reminiscent of his roles in Vikramadityan and Bangalore Days. He is adept at bringing out the vulnerability of his characters. Albeit charming and sincere, his expressions do lack subtlety. Much like his performance in the award-winning film Charlie. When he has to laugh, he laughs like he’s Santa Claus. When he explodes in rage, he does it like a pre-schooler who was refused a toy.
Girish Gangadharan’s camera is an organic part of the film. And it’s a refreshing change from Mollywood’s current trend of slow-motion shots and ad-film like lighting. Vivek Harshan’s cuts are perfectly timed. The way he weaves the dinner table into the Varthinkale song is a fine example of an editor making his presence felt. Gopi Sunder’s background score is calmer, than in his recent ventures like Puthiya Niyamam. As with Sameer’s previous films, Kali doesn’t have overtly dramatic and lengthy dialogues. The progression of events in the second half is natural and seamless, and the pace of the mounting tension is just right.
Kali stars an actor with a phenomenal fan base in south India. And he plays a vulnerable character. A leading actress looks modest and real. Her pimples aren’t concealed. She can flaunt earthy untreated hair. And dub for her character in her unconventional deep voice. For all this, Kali impresses.
And if that weren’t enough, it adds to young Mollywood’s latest accomplishment: a focus on making actors, not just stars.
The Kali review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.