“Qala Will Give You A ‘Gala’ Time” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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It’s all about the ‘gala’, the throat. The vocals chords, to be more precise. Some have what it takes to become a singer. Others don’t. Qala didn’t. This is her story as seen through the world of playback singing in the 1940s when apparently music composers approved mediocrity in exchange of sexual favours.

Qala, as played by the intriguing Tripti Dimri is determined to prove she is the chip off the old block. Her mother played by the formidable Swastika Banerjee, sees through her daughter’s mediocrity and informally adopts a folk singer played by Babil Khan . From here on Qala falls deeper and deeper into the morass of compromises and barter. She is hellbent on attaining fame no matter what the price.

Qala is a few shades lighter than Anvitaa Dutt’s Bulbbul(why the extra ‘b’ I never figured out) . But just as gothic in its vision of emotional tyranny. It is a desperately dark tale told neither with flourish or flamboyance. The sets convey a portable grandeur. The colours communicate a sense of dread and disharmony, to go with the heroine’s mind.

Tripti Dimri’s Qala is not a woman of great virtue. She can bend to any extent as long as she gets her way. This is a world of wounds that never heal, of songs that remain unsung, of approaching doom and unavoidable sanity.

Tripti does well in a role that has no room or patience for empathy. She is the oddball in a climate of conformity that was prevalent in the playback world of the 1940s. While the actress conveys desperate ambition she is unable to become the embodiment of tragic grandeur that she is meant to be.

The supporting cast especially Swastika Bannerjee and Amit Sial are strong. Babil Khan as an adopted prodigy shows potential.

After two such melancholic dimlit(too dark for the small screen) drama of disenchantment could we have something light from Anvitaa Dutt, please?

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