Rohith VS’s ‘Kala’ (Tovino Thomas, Sumesh Moor), on Amazon Prime, is a superbly stylized thriller about the animal in us beneath layers of civilization

Posted on May 20, 2021

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Spoilers ahead…

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Kala is set in the late 1990s but it’s actually very timeless, almost as timeless as nature which is a big part of the film’s texture. We see overhead shots of rugged terrain, a shot of a man’s face seen through leaves, bodies reflected in water. When two men fight the focus is on two butterflies in the foreground. Also, Kala is a very carefully designed film filled with echoes and mirror images. Early on, a kid aims at a plane in the sky. Much later, we see from a plane, almost, two men fighting on the ground and they look like kids. 

The story is about two men: Shaji (Tovino Thomas) and a worker on his estate (Sumesh Moor). Everything in the film happens in twos: two men in bandaged legs and two kinds of water being used to cleanse things. There are also two sets of people: those who eat at the breakfast table in the house and their workers who eat outside. There are two instances of scenes with missing roof tiles, two instances of men with black dogs — and two instances of men who are reduced to animals. The first time we see Shaji, he’s shaking his head in slow motion like a dog shaking off water. Sumesh Moor’s character is often made to look like a beast. 

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