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Kalasala Review

Deepa Garimella /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait to rent it
No, it is not a college-bunking, table-top-dancing, eve-teasing-adam-horsing romance of yester-years, nor the more contemporary canteen-politicking, classroom-chit-passing escapade of good-looking people who easily come to terms with their feelings. Kalasala focuses on a section of the student crowd that no film has yet really - those who have studied in government schools all their lives, who get tomato rice and biryani in real, round steel lunch boxes, and who cannot speak a word of English.

Shobhana (Tamanna), the daughter of a highly-accomplished and educated family, stands out among all the students at her college, not just because she's several shades fairer than them, but also because she's several strata ahead in terms of her upbringing. Think children of daily-wage earners, auto-drivers and drunken fathers, and you will get the idea.

Initially a stop-gap arrangement until she gets admitted to a bigger university, the small-town college overwhelms Shobhana, who's busy coping with a bigger trauma - the death of her mother. However, she is so charmed by her chappal-wearing, oily-haired, English-bumbling classmates' simplicity, that she stays put in the place.

Her gang is one that has stuck together throughout school, and among them is a matronly character, Kavita, who vehemently decides the general group consensus on male-female relationships amongst them - no falling in love, friends forever, boys shouldn't ogle at girls etc. - something that the boys find hard to agree with, but do.

And the usual formula of adolescence follows. The well-behaved, chivalrous Muthu (Akhil) starts by having a crush on Shobhana, but Kavita's severity make him retract. All is fine until some random taunt sets his emotions on in full gear. He realizes he likes her, but hates himself for it.

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated development, Shobhana is getting advised by Kavita against getting too close to Muthu in public - giving him free rides to college on her Kinetic, for example, is just the kind of scene society loves, to start bitching about girls and boys. Shobhana agrees, but clearly, she doesn't see much point in all that. Especially when she gets to see what Muthu's home is like - it's a hut, his father and sister work in a stone quarry, and his sister doesn't go to school because they don't have the money.

Moved by his circumstances, she starts liking him. While Muthu's trying to repress his raging hormones - so that he may not 'commit the sin of falling in love' - Shobhana indulges her feelings, but only so slightly, out of fear of (Kavita's) disapproval.

Kalasala stuns you mostly because of its attention to detail, and the way it beautifully handles situations that seem like such a distant, trivial universe to the rest of the world but are so overpowering to the teenager who's in it. One of the memorable scenes is the one at the wedding of one of the group, during which Muthu can't even hear Shobhana sing without getting frustrated, and he tries to run away from it - and since it's a rich guy's wedding, they've put up speakers all over town.

However, the climax tears apart everything that the rest of the movie strived so hard for. Not only is the tragedy frustrating because of all the emotional investment you make in the rest of the film, it also seems like the makers used it to escape the actual confrontations because 'they are beyond the scope of the film'. Indeed, the real, real issues are never addressed, it is just the sorting out of teenage angst that is detailed here.

Most people who acted in Kalasala seem like they were picked right out of whatever conditions their characters were living in, and the college student crowd is particularly convincing, not to mention the lack of make-up on everyone (including Tamanna). Tamanna does a great job, and so does Akhil (who actually didn't need a lot of facial expressions).

The visuals are no National Geographic material (possibly because this is a dubbed film), but they are no DD-National either. The music is beautiful, and a couple of romantic songs make the romance seem totally palpable.

On the whole, a fantastically crafted film that bafflingly kills its own self by being a tragedy.
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Kalasala (telugu) reviews
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  • Cast
    Tamanna, Akhil
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  • Music
    Joshua Sridhar
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  • Director
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  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
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Nagala Kishore. on 22nd Mar 2017, 9:59pm | Permalink
I'm an Andhra who has settled in the U.S. quite a few decades ago. Rarely, indeed very rarely, do I come across a movie as heartwarming, genuine and credible as this one. It is my good fortune to have found it on youtube, quite by chance. It has none of the silliness, absurdity or violence that seems to pervade Indian cinema these days. The story, dialogue, direction, cinematography, actors in their simple rural setting, how naturally they have played their roles with simplicity and no artifice or glitz, not even makeup (as is stated in the review)--all these are very natural and together, have made a huge impression on my mind. With all my heart, I applaud the film and all the people who have made it not only beautiful but above and beyond that. It is OUTSTANDING.

In more than one scene, it brings tears to me (admittedly I have the fault, sensitivity or weakness) of being a romantic.

The facial expressions of the heroine Shobahana in certain sequences between her and the hero Muthu, are moving, beautifully and delicately shown. The pain of love that cannot be expressed because of self-imposed scruples and as well, imposed by the harsh rules of society (rural Tamilnadu), is clearly depicted. The expressions, gestures and body language tell the agony and on occasion, the elation, of tender feelings. If there is better tribute that can be paid to a film, I'm at a loss to find the words

There is the scene in which the rowdy boys harass Shobhana and upon learning of this from Kavita (Kayalvizhi in the Tamil version), Muthu, in Shobhana's defence, goes and tackles the rowdies. In the fight, he sustains a painfully twisted ankle. Shobhana realises that Muthu, as a medal winning sprinter, is relying on his athletic talent to attain his goal--a decent job by way of the sports quota, his only chance of coming out of poverty. Naturally, Shobhana is quite upset that such an injury may well deprive Muthu's chance of coming up. Thus, she has a heated row with Kayal; her expressions, gestures and body language, clearly reveal her agony. The message is simple: It is well and good for them to have the scruple to be proper and not go beyond the bounds of friendship but when true love indeed blossoms out of such friendship, it is no less honourable. the rules of friendship do NOT prohibit love when it occurs in the proper way. Indeed, love is the highest form of respect a man and a woman can pay each other.

In the last 20 minutes or so of the film, in the bus, as the students are returning from their college-conducted excursion, the dialogue between Shobhana and Kayal in which they pour out their hearts to each other, I found poignant and tender.

It is in those moments, that the film conveys to me powerfully, the feelings, bound as the students are, by the rules of society and the cultural evil (being women in that society subjects them to abuse) and because of the socioeconomic gulf between an utterly poor hero and a well-off heroine.

I'm hard pressed to say who the protagonist is--the girl or the boy.

A Satyajit Ray sort of film in Tamil in colour, made in our time.
Shekhar Shashi on 23rd Jun 2015, 6:13pm | Permalink
Excellence stands for this movie. Nice music and beautiful events with its heart breaking climax. Fantastic movie. I don't know telugu but still I admire the plot and direction of this movie.
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