Kaalkoot's poor writing overshadow's Vijay Verma's stellar acting

Kaalkoot is languid and lacking in vitality. It is supposedly set in a town called Sirsa in Bihar but little in the ambience or characters suggests anything Bihari

Kaalkoot poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
Kaalkoot poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

Subhash K Jha

Kaalkoot (8 episodes: streaming on JioCinema)

Rating: **

Watching this dark murky look at small town gender prejudices I got a nasty bout of déjà vu. Kaalkoot looks like the brilliant Dahaad stripped of  all slanted relevance and subliminal strengths. It is like being placed at the  centre of a morality tale that is so pale and stale, it never rises above its flaws.

Vijay Varma whom we’ve repeatedly seen playing sociopaths, is here the sincere, newly recruited cop facing a big crime investigation. Until the end,  I feared Verma would show his true colours. But no, he is the good cop, trying to do his job.

Verma's character Ravi must investigate an acid attack. He reminded me of Sonakshi Sinha in Dahaad, specially the angle of the mother badgering the cop to get married. The bahu-insistent mother is played by the super-talented Seema Biswas.

I mildly enjoyed the mother-son scenes between Verma and Biswas. I could see both struggling to add some meat to their underwritten roles. But  honestly, these small town sagas about crimes against women and lackadaisical police investigation with mothers and fathers from the Doordarshan era, are becoming hackneyed and uninteresting.

Verma is sincere, but largely on his own with no support from the writers, Arunabh Kumar and Sumit  Saxena, who flatten out the characters to the extent that they cannot breathe. Gopal Dutt who plays Verma’s sadistic senior suddenly starts showing streaks of sympathy.

He is the character who is supposed to surprise you. But we don’t not know him well enough to feel anything.

Since the acid victim Parul is played by Shweta Tripathi Sharma, she can’t be lying inert on a dingy hospital bed all the time. There are  flashbacks where she comes across as rebellious small towner  who befriends more than one male. Shocking!

We all know what happens to “forward” girls in backward towns. Director Sumit Saxena sets out to savagely censure small town biases but ends up spoofing those very characters who are victim of these biases. Parul’s bestfriend is shown to be vacuous and unsteady in her opinion on boys  who give unwanted attention. While interrogating her, Verma and his  assistant (Yashpal Sharma, wasted) make no attempt to conceal their  contempt at girls in mofussil towns who befriend the ‘fear’ sex and pay the price.

Kaalkoot is languid and lacking in vitality. It is supposedly set in a town called Sirsa in Bihar but little in the ambience or characters suggests anything Bihari. This is a serial that wants to be hard-hitting and intense like Dahaad, but lacks both a roar and a bite.

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