There is a deep, dark, seductive hue to the frames in Kalank, the Karan Johar-produced and Abhishek Verman-directed period drama about dancing courtesans and raging warriors. One almost expected Sanjay Leela Bhansalis name to crop up as director.
But it didn't. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
I really can't tell because the teaser seems to want nothing better than to convince us that Karan Johar can do a Bhansali, as well as Bhansali. The frames are saturated with colours and the over-dramatic scenes (including one of a bare-chested Varun Dhawan in a bull arena, a la Baahubali) are shot on ornate papier-mache sets in high-definition gloss with a background score humming an insistent drama of doom into our burning ears.
In spite of the unmistakable opulence, the teaser of Kalank exudes a sense of exacerbated plasticity.
The three actresses, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Sonakshi Sinhna and Alia Bhatt, try to look suitably seductive and mournful in costumes that seem borrowed from Bajirao Mastani. The male actors, Sanjay Dutt, Varun Dhawan and Aditya Roy Kapur, look ruggedly mournful as they grieve manfully for lost love and retrieved relationships looking into distant horizons that look painted on sets large enough to house two villages in Meghalaya.
There is a fabulous top-shot of Alia dancing to a Kathak rhythm. One hopes there is more glamour and less machismo in storytelling.
It could all be an exciting melange of swirling ghagras and riveting battles. On the other hand, Kalank could be a royal mess. We can only wait with bated breath.