Kaal - Review
Kaal is backed by names like Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan(who even makes a special appearance for the title song sequence) and has quite a high-profile star cast. After the movie, the question foremost in my mind was "Why?". Why would such popular actors and a successful producer/director, who could have their pick of projects, associate with a by-the-numbers horror flick that, if not for their presence, would be a low-budget screamfest?
A wildlife expert(John Abraham), along with his wife/photographer(Esha Deol) travels to Orbit National Park for research on man-eating tigers for a National Geographic article. In the park he runs into a tourist(Vivek Oberoi), his girlfriend(Lara Dutta) and their friends, who are there for their holiday. The group, which doesn't obey the rules about not hunting, etc., gets trapped in the jungle due to some landslides and a mysterious man(Ajay Devgan) who seems to wield power over even the tigers, attempts to take them to safety.
Kaal, for the most part, is based on The Ghost and the Darkness, with tigers taking the place of the two lions in the original. We get similar stories about the nature of the man-eating tigers, point-of-view shots as they target their next meal and a man who has an uncanny knowledge of the jungle and its inhabitants. But the film then turns into a horror flick as the people in the group are targeted and the killings become quite gruesome. The director, obviously at a loss here since The Ghost and the Darkness doesn't take that route, turns to movies like Final Destination for inspiration during these portions.
Kaal takes the horror movie out of its usual confines of a house, cabin, etc. and moves it to the wild outdoors. Unfortunately that is its only claim to fame. It faithfully sticks to all other horror movie cliches like eerie sounds, odd camera angles, unnecessarily dramatic shots and anticlimactic Boo! moments. These work the first couple of times but then become irritating.
But no horror movie gets by without stupid people doing stupid things that almost make us feel like they deserved what they got, and Kaal has no dearth of them. Consider this... You are in a house in the middle of the jungle, you have been warned about the dangers of stepping outside and you have seen a few people killed in scary ways. You get thirsty. What do you do?
a. You control your thirst and go back to sleep
b. You wake the rest of the group and try to find some water inside the house
c. You stand up, walk out on tiptoe so you don't wake up anyone else and go to a well(which you have been warned not to go near) to draw some water
No prizes for guessing what one of the characters does in this film...
And then there's the scene where the jeep is stuck in the middle of the jungle and Vivek Oberoi gets down to see if he can fix the problem. Lara Dutta keeps screaming at him to get back into the jeep since the tigers may come. How his getting into a stationary, open-air jeep would help if tigers come, I have no idea!
Ajay Devgan uses his piercing eyes and serious demeanor to good effect as he speaks ominously about the jungle and its secrets. Vivek Oberoi overdoes the yuppie act while John Abraham is wooden as usual. Both Lara Dutta and Isha Deol are dressed like they were planning to spend a day at the beach rather than in a forest and don't have to do much beyond looking scared.
If you're in the mood for horror, just rent Bhoot again...