Kadakh review: A hard lesson on one’s hollow existence

Director Rajat Kapoor’s dark comedy shows how even in a crowd, most human beings tend to find themselves lonely

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Mansi Multani, Rajat Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Cyrus Sahukar, Chandrachoor Rai

Kadakh [2020]

Human beings are social, but in a material world, often physical appearance, success attracts people to an individual. But then again, in the virtual world of social media, one may have millions of followers, and yet be lonely.  The tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput is a grim reminder here. However, hindsight is 20/20.  We’re left to say it proverbially in the year 2020.

And in 2020, actor, director Rajat Kapoor has delivered a kadakh [hard/strong] lesson on morality, and one’s hollow existence.  Kapoor’s dark comedy Kadakh [2020] examines human relationships, through a social gathering. The chain of events leaves the principal characters questioning their morality.

A stranger [Chandrachoor Rai] lands at the doorstep of Sunil [Ranvir Shorey].  As it turns out, Raghav [Rai] is not so strange after all.  Sunil reluctantly lets him in. An unfortunate event then ruins the Diwali party for Sunil.  The businessman has invited a host of friends, but a few uninvited guests, too, turn up. All through the evening, despite the large crowd and noise, Sunil comes to grips with his hollow existence. And it’s not just the host, but all his guests are as hollow, as fake as him.

Kapoor’s Kadakh is a rare gem where one uses a momentous occasion to expose the frail human relationships. Life is not the same for Sunil and his wife Malti [Mansi Multani] thereafter. When the cookie crumbles, each of his so-called close friends reveal their true hollow nature.  There’s Rahul [Rajat Kapoor] who perhaps tried hijacking the party by announcing that is book is ready for publish.  Joshi [Sagar Deshmukh], a divorcee who invites his French friend Francoise Marie [Kalki Koechlin], a mentalist, who senses something’s amiss in this house. Joshi’s presence inevitably makes his former wife Paro [Nupur Asthana] uncomfortable. Then we have Yogesh [Cyrus Sahukar], a loquacious motivational speaker. But quite frankly, his tone, words aren’t motivating anyone. Rohit’s wife Alka [Shruti Seth] can get noisy after a few drinks. 

Sunil’s office colleague Chaaya [Palomi Ghosh] and his wife’s uncle [Manoj Pahwa] and aunt [Yamini Das] are the gate crashers here.

Many of the guests, especially from his office are Yes Men.  It’s convenient to find hollow characters among the privileged, successful lot. Well, the low-income groups, and the poor have their own set of problems. But it’s always amusing to see that fake attitude peel off pretentious souls. Not that watching the pretentious souls embarrass themselves eases off any woes of the underprivileged. It’s simply human nature to laugh at other’s misery.

The sitcom doesn’t really provide too many humorous moments, it is simply the apathy of Sunil and the shenanigans of his guests that amuse you.  A fairly simple, predictable story but it’s made enjoyable by a neat screenplay and the admirable performance of its ensemble cast.

Ranvir Shorey is a seasoned professional. If not giant, but over the years Shorey has taken significant strides in his career establishing himself as a versatile actor. As Sunil, Shorey makes you both empathise and hate the character in equal breath.  Shorey does well to carry the petrified look throughout the film. He may be in a soup, but Sunil is not prepared to lose his life, career. When the bubble bursts, he subtly threatens his guests to cooperate or sink with him. Moral awakening is not an option here.

Like Shorey, Mansi Multani is flawless as Sunil’s wife Malti.  Cyrus Sahukar is a bit nauseating but that’s the character [Yogesh] for you. Rajat Kapoor is his usual reliable self. Of all the characters, it is Manoj Pahwa and Yamini Das who are hilarious as the mean, cheap relatives.  Shruti Seth gives a reminder that if backed with the right role, she can do full justice to it. Remember Tara Sharma Saluja, the girl who made her debut in Anupam Kher’s directorial debut Om Jai Jagdish [2002]?. Though she always had a fine screen presence, but her quacky tone often proved to be a dampener. Tara plays Rahul’s wife.  The lady though speaks in a pleasant tone here.

Though he has a limited presence, but unheralded actor Chandrachoor Rai’s performance is a tour de force. You empathise with him, but Raghav’s mercurial mind makes him an intimidating character too.  Rai puts up a scintillating show that will give one the jitters.

A word of praise for the film’s two child artistes – Abhishek Sharma and Rushab Satra.  Vivaan [Abhishek Sharma] comes up with a gory Breaking Bad [renowned Netflix TV series] idea to clear the mess and save the day for the flawed adults.

Kadakh has a kadakh [tight in this reference] screenplay for large parts, but through the middle path, it gets a little too noisy even for the sane souls. Also, while Diwali parties are a reality, but perhaps Rajat Kapoor could have done well to trim the guests in Sunil’s household.  A large crowd in a small place will invariably lead to noise.  It’s in these moments that the film drags a bit.  Although an hour and half in length, the film could have been trimmed by a few minutes.

How often do we see Hindi films being (largely) set in one location? The large presence of people camouflages the house, but we see its beauty through the parting shots, one figuring Ranvir Shorey, and the other capturing the sullen mood of the beautiful Multani. The two scenes stand out for its production design and fine cinematography.

For a title Kadakh, you wouldn’t find too many kadakh [strong] moments. The narrative perhaps doesn’t allow for it. The various characters experience different emotions. After a long evening of revelry, anger, fear, Kapoor’s characters are left with a stunned silence that mirrors their hollow souls.

Kadakh is currently streaming on SonyLiv.

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