Kaala: An Overstuffed Thriller That Is Low On Both Drama And Thrills

The biggest problem with ‘Kaala’ is the many back and forths dealing with multiple characters that float in and out.

A black mark in Bejoy Nambiar’s filmography!
Kaala (Hindi)
  • Cast: Rohan Mehra, Taher Shabbir, Avinash Tiwary, and Nivetha Pethuraj
  • Director: Bejoy Nambiar
  • Producers: Bejoy Nambiar, Bhushan Kumar, and Krishan Kumar
  • Music: Gaurav Godkhindi
  • No. of episodes: 8
  • OTT platform: Disney+ Hotstar

The story of Kaala has certain elements inspired by the recent blockbusters Pathaan and Jawan, but the experience here is far from rousing.

Bejoy Nambiar’s Kaala moves along two parallel storylines.

On one hand, you have an IB officer named Ritwik Mukherjee (Avinash Tiwary). This is set in 2018. Ritwik Mukherjee is given the task of investigating a huge case of “reverse hawala” (a transaction where the money is transferred back to the original sender).

This reverse hawala is being run by Naman Arya (Taher Shabbir) in West Bengal. Naman Arya is a business tycoon who uses waste recycling as a front for the money laundering that he does.

As Ritwik gets deeper into the case, he finds a certain link that connects to his past.

Parallel storyline

Running parallel to this plot is the storyline set in 1988. This portion begins with a military truck being blown up on the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Subhendu Mukherjee (Rohan Vinod Mehra) is a solo survivor who somehow manages to escape by jumping into the water.

He is accused of cheating his own battalion by helping the rebel forces use the wartime tunnels as a route for smuggling.

As Kaala progresses, a complicated chain of events happens leading to Ritwik being labeled as a rogue and criminal, much like Subhendu Mukherjee.

But it goes without saying that they both have been falsely implicated. To nobody’s surprise, Subhendu turns out to be Ritwik’s father.

What follows is a familiar tale of a son avenging his father’s insult by gradually coming to know about his father’s courage.

Positives

One of the few positive aspects of Kaala is the portions involving Rohan Vinod Mehra. His scenes have an emotional resonance. As viewers, you feel for the plight of Subhendu Mukherjee.

Taher Shabbir also does well as a cool businessman.

Also, to the credit of Bejoy Nambiar, he doesn’t waste any time in setting up the world of money laundering.

Flaws 

The biggest problem with Kaala is the many back and forths dealing with multiple characters that float in and out. Bejoy Nambiar does a lot of globetrotting, much like the other SRK-starrer Pathaan (2023). But here, the globetrotting doesn’t have any value to the plot.

The series starts with the issue of money laundering in the name of reverse hawala. But soon, that is relegated to the background. It becomes more about Ritwik’s fight for his father, but not in a positive way.

There is also a subplot dealing with homosexuality — involving one of the villains (Jitin Gulati). It is not just poorly placed but has been written with zero nuances.

This is sad because you have had web shows that have portrayed homosexuality in a much more nuanced manner.

A case in point is this year’s Taali, a web show on the transgender activist Gauri Sawant.

There is no denying that Kaala has been stylishly mounted. But the slickness cannot compensate for the overall dullness.

Final take

To sum it up, Kaala is a big black mark in the filmography of Bejoy Nambiar who is capable of doing much better stuff as we have seen in Shaitan (2011) and Wazir (2016).

(Views expressed here are personal.)

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