‘Kalank’ & Beyond: Period Dramas That Just Didn’t Get It Right

Excellence just wasn’t part of the script.

Published18 Apr 2019, 11:58 AM IST
3 min read

Period dramas, though so detached from the realities of today, have found a safe spot in the hearts of the Indian audience. Even though cinema is swiftly moving towards a more realistic and relatable spectrum, these larger-than-life films with grand sets and costumes still are running ahead when it comes to creating a buzz. There are, however, exceptions.

With the recent release of Kalank, which is attracting bad reviews like flies, we revisit other period films that turned out to be sour disappointments.

1. Asoka

Starring the crown less King Shah Rukh Khan, who plays the Mauryan ruler Asoka, the grandson of Chadragupta Maurya, this film was one of the most expensive films at its time. The portrayal of the concerned time period in the film was far from realistic, and there isn’t much explanation given to the actions of the characters in the film. Although SRK tried his best, the poor direction and script made this film an unfortunate disappointment.

2. Mohenjo Daro

A mess so big even Hrithik Roshan’s passionate performance couldn’t save it. A case of broken writing, the vision falls flat around the final narrative. In fact, the story line is so weak that it is almost comical. If anything worked for this film (that honestly had so much potential) was AR Rahman’s music.

3. Umrao Jaan

Aishwarya Rai’s beautiful eyes couldn’t make up for the broken Urdu words and weak performances this film is infused with. Recreating films is hard enough, and when it is a film that has been remembered for Rekha’s heart-wrenching performance, disappointment hits harder. The worst after-taste is left by the poor chemistry between Aishwarya and Bachchan Jr, and perhaps that gets too difficult to look over.

4. Mangal Pandey: The Rising

Exploring India’s first war of Independence in 1857, this film was a big shocker when it comes to expectations from Aamir Khan. Everything in the film, starting from the appearance of characters and the inconsistency in story-telling paints a gigantic question mark in your head as an audience. If you missed this one, well, thank God.

5. Thugs of Hindostan

Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Fatima Sana Sheikh. With names like that, it isn’t difficult to create hype around the film. Almost the entire country waited for the release. What followed was the biggest shower of why-did-we-do-this-to-ourselves in modern times. The film was a chaotic failure. The film is over-the-top to the point of hysterical, you find yourself unable to connect with a single character. The strange songs and dances did nothing to add to the mess.

6. Veer

To be fair, this wasn’t the first Salman Khan film to disappoint you out of your brains. Still, however, the level of mediocrity this film hits is almost commendable. The sub-standard performances, poor screenplay and tacky-graphics - you name it. The biggest failure for this film was a lack of motive. Why were the characters doing what they were doing? Why did the directors make this film? Why did we as audience go watch it? Guess we will never know.

7. Begum Jaan

A classic case of ‘don’t judge a movie by its trailer’. The film was much talked about, Vidya Balan is known to serve brilliant performances. To be fair, she did not disappoint. The films broken narrative and extremely poor direction did, though. Its unrealistic portrayal of events did nothing to add to the experience. 

9. Kalank

A visually stunning film with a brilliant cast... fails. While it is a treat for the eyes, its pretty-ness does seem to detach you from equating it to any type of historical reality. What it does turn out to be is endless. You find yourself losing interest very quickly in this slow train, the verbose dialogues get confusing and irritating after a point. The entire artsy-ness of the film seems forced. With this recent disappointment, we wait to see what period drama film will salvage the audience’s expectations.

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