“Qala”, Netflix’s latest Hindi film is directed by Anvita Dutt and produced under the banner of Clean Slate Filmz. Based on artistic struggles of royal families back in the 1930s, the film stars Tripti Dimri (Qala Manjushree), Swastika Mukherjee (Urmila Manjushree) and Babil Khan (Jagan). The makers take us into a pictorial representative world of the roots of deep embedded customary notions on sexism, patriarchy, emotional chaos and royalty. It starts off with a lot of limelight on the singing star, Qala. She is surrounded by media persons, and when a question on the rumours about her own brother comes up, she faces a flashback shiver. And the roots of all her trauma and psychological suffering uncovers through the entire story line.
“Qala” is a beautiful, poised, and more importantly an intelligent and responsible presentation of a woman’s life. She comes from a royal family where she kept up with her demeanour in the social world. Soon, she finds herself very imbalanced and lost with all the imposition that she carries. We catch glimpses of her will to equalize women in bits and parts. She is very particular in identifying her feelings, when she explains to the doctor of her symptoms, “There is noise in the head and fear in the eyes.” She portrays a traumatized woman beautifully and intensely in some of the scenes. One could easily relate with her, until the film makes us empathize with her experience. She yearns to be accepted by her mother since her childhood and faces consistent neglect as her struggle to be validated by her continues.
Qala’s mother is someone who her own stereotypes with regards to womanhood and becoming a maestro. A victim on her own, she also traps her own daughter in the never ending battle of earning respect in the society and standing on her own true merit. Urmila Manjushree did not expect any real achievement from Qala but threw a lot on her. Deep in her heart, she blames her daughter for taking away the life of her son. And it showed in all her tiny reactions towards Qala. Babil Khan makes a wonderful performer in the supporting role. From a viewer perspective, it is disheartening and yet eye-opening on how families dysfunction, only to create voids in their successor’s lives.
One of the highlights of the film is Amit Trivedi’s extraordinarily well put music that will make you want to rewind and just enjoy the scene once again for the sake of the song. It will not be wrong to say that it has added a lot of energy to the storyline. In addition, the tonality of the setup makes the film intense and yet consistenly engaging. It is neither dark nor shallow, but blends narratively behind the gorgeous production design of each scene. The film is well shot and well performed. This may very well be looked upon as one Netflix’s India’s most classic pieces yet.