Like all Keralites, I grew up on a staple of great Malayalam movies with intelligent, realistic and often funny storylines without much of masala. Around the time I was in college, the good movies dried up. Over time as distance from the homeland (‘naadu’) grew, I gave up watching Malayalam movies altogether after I saw the Dileep starrer ‘Spanish Masala’ on a bus to Kerala. Dileep is the actor who was recently arrested for the alleged kidnap and assault of a popular actress but honestly he should have been jailed years ago for that movie. I could not connect to any of the stories being shown on screen anymore. The storylines sucked, the actors were old and desperate to seem young and there were too many slow motion shots. As time went by I started hearing about good Malayalam movies with new actors, writers and directors but I didn’t really believe it till I saw Dulqar’s ‘Ustad Hotel’ on DVD. Finally there was a movie that spoke to me. It had a young actor who carried off the role effortlessly without overacting, fantastic visuals and music and a story about a departed son of the soil finding home again that spoke to most of us who had left Kerala in search of education or jobs. After that I found that the Malayalam film industry was back to making topical movies again. I’m still somewhat behind and have a lot of good movies on my watch-list that I haven’t got to yet. Kali was somewhere way down that list but when a Maharashtrian in office started telling me, a mallu to watch this nice Malayalam thriller, I decided it is shameful not to. It turned out to be one of the better movies I have seen recently across languages.
Kali is not one of those movies that will make a lot of money or get talked about a lot like ‘Premam’. It has no songs and isn’t that glamorous or much of a rabble rouser, in spite of the name. It is however a fantastic thriller which really makes you totter on the edge of your seat at times. But first and foremost, this movie has a very important message for an audience that is used to movies glorifying anger and reckless ‘heroism’. Most of our movies, no matter which language shows the usual trope of a righteously angry hero losing his temper and rushing to face the villains without giving a damn about being outgunned or outnumbered. The heroine will gasp and look all worried at first but then the expression on her face along with that of all spectators on both sides of the screen will change to awe. This ideal of masculinity is what we have been sold for years and years and a surprising number of people believe it. If someone wrongs you or your girl when you’re out, what’s the first thing you’re supposed to do? Guage the situation and surroundings? Or lose your head and get ready for a fight? How many of us will admit that it might be better to guage the situation first? Are we men if we do not react? Hell, even while writing this I’m wondering if someone will misunderstand and think that I am a coward or that I’m advocating cowardice. Advocating caution and prudence just does not work as this is the first thing in everybody’s head (including yours) when you do, which is exactly why you need more stories like the one in ‘Kali’.
Remember when you used to yearn for certain characters to meet up or re-unite and didn’t get what you wanted for seasons at a stretch? All that is in the past. The show might have been cut to 7 episodes this season but the fast forward button has been punched repeatedly to more than compensate for the lost time. Here’s the list of reunions and team-ups across the 7 kingdoms that was achieved by sheer disrespect for time and distance along with shoutouts to fan theories:
Reunions: Completed vs. Pending
✔ Jaime – Tyrion
✔ Gendry – Davos
✔ Jon – Tormund
✔ Jorah the friendzoned knight – Daenerys Targaryen, breaker of hearts
✖ Grey Worm – Missandei
✖ Jon – Psycho Arya & Creepy Bran
✖ Jon – Samwell the last Tarly
✖ Jon – Ghost, who’s been gone long enough thanks to Drogon burning through the CGI budget
✖ The Hound – Mountain, because Cleganebowl HAS to happen
For the last few episodes, Daenerys Targaryen really wanted to burn stuff and all the older people except for one cool grandma kept telling her ”you can’t burn this, you can’t burn that”. You could see the petulant question “What can I burn?” behind her entitled and impressively pliant eyebrows in every scene. This episode she heard about another ally biting the dust courtesy of an army led by one Lannister and the myopic plans of another and asked the question (no not that one) to Jon Snow and he said no, you can’t burn the Red Keep. “Well if I can’t burn castles or armies holed up inside castles, might as well burn them in transit” was the logical conclusion of that discussion and oh boy was it fun to watch. Well, not for Jaime but we’ll get to that.
It made strategic sense as well. Of course it might have been better if she burnt the Lannister army on the onward trip instead of the return one but for that you need scouts or spies for intel, you know the kind of thing Varys was supposedly good at providing. It’s actually quite unfair that Tyrion gets all the heat for failed plans. His job is to scheme and Varys’s job is to provide information required for those schemes. Otherwise he’s just a bald Eunuch who can’t fight but still hangs around the likes of Grey Worm who has completely gotten over being a Eunuch recently. But anyway that was so last episode. This episode absolutely killed it.
If there’s one thing several generations can agree on, its that the next generation is headed down the wrong path. Of course, each successive generation will disagree if they hear the previous one say it but if you manage to get them all to say it at once, you will then get to see them look at each other in shock before the older generation starts admonishing the next one for speaking out of turn, which they never used to do back in the day.
Douglas Adams, genius author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a man who knew where his towel was had this to say about the subject:
“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
I disagree with that last bit. We usually start doing it way before 35. When I was in 2nd year of college, we were talking about how the new kids just don’t get it. But I guess that could be because I didn’t have a way of making a career out of the new stuff that the first years brought with them. Now I’m literally making a career out of technology that was developed after I was 15 so I guess I have another 5 years before I can find my high horse.
The art of making trailers has progressed quite a lot but sometimes I wonder if the director and writer of the movie ever bother talking to whoever is making the trailer to make sure they capture the essence of the movie right. I’m not very familiar with the industry but I think whoever made the trailer for this movie wanted to create a really short film based on their own ideas about what the story should be rather than give a teaser for the real one. Every trailer for War For The Planet Of The Apes hyped up a war that Caesar didn’t start but means to finish. In fact that exact line is repeated in every single trailer. In the actual movie however, he only says “I didn’t start this war”. He never says “but I will finish it” unless it was part of a deleted scene which we haven’t seen yet. The posters were equally misleading, such as the one at the beginning of this post.
How can anyone look at that poster and not expect an epic battle between humans and apes? But this scene never happens. There is never a single sequence in the whole movie that has two armies facing off in this way. There is a skirmish in the jungle in the beginning but nothing like this.