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Akshat Verma: What You Hear In Kaalakaandi Is How These People Speak

Akshat Verma

That brilliant writer of Delhi Belly is at it again. The language  of  Akshay Verma’s   directorial debut Kaalakaandi has stunned shocked and  embarrassed many.

I remember the then-chairperson  of  the  CBFC Pahlaj Nihalani warning me, “The gaalis that you will hear in this film are what you’ve never heard in your life.”

Akshat laughs, “Thankfully Kaalakaandi has been rescued from being butchered  by the censor board. The CBFC had asked for  more than 70 cuts, and that was mostly the language that Pahlajji told you about. But that’s how people speak in the milieu that I have gone to . You can’t gag the characters because their style of talking doesn’t suit you.”

So was  Akshat trying to live up to the reputation of the colourful quirky colloquial talk that he had cultivated when he wrote Delhi Belly by putting more of the same  in his directorial debut?

Akshay laughs, “It’s not as if I consciously got down  to doing a film that would have as many gaalis and cusswords as Delhi Bellly. When I wrote Delhi Belly the characters spoke to me and thence  to the audience in  a certain way. Now in  Kaalakaandi they speak a language that we may not accept as normal . But it is perfectly normal to the milieu and context  of  the  film.”

 Luckily for Akshat  the verbal imbalance recommended  by the CBFC was restored by  the Tribunal.

“They restored all the  cuts ,and by doing so they restored my faith in the democratic  process. They just asked for three nominal verbal cuts which we made  happily.The Tribunal understood the desperate essence of the  theme,” says  the writer-turned director gratefully.

Kaalakaandi is dark comedy about a man who gets to know he has  very little time to live.

Reasons  Akshat, “It’s not easy to laugh about death in  our films.Would such a  character be bothered with niceties pleasantries and with crossing his  ps and  qs? Desperate situations bring  out the real you, I feel.”

 And Saif Ali Khan is in  a desperate situation himself,what all his recent films bombing at the boxoffice.

Akshat feels  Kaalakaandi would do the trick for his leading man. “I am so glad we choseSaif for the film. He is extremely effective at  bringing out the confusions  and the inner chaos of  the character.In real life also, Saif doesn’t hesitate in expressing his inner doubts.We are a humanity stricken by uncertainties. I  think  it’s nice to have these misgivings expressed  on screen rather than  to have heroes who speak in measured rhetorical tones. Flaws are what make our heroes  interesting. And since  Saif plays a  very flawed character , I feel  his character is VERY interesting.”

For a while it was touch-and-go for Kaalakaandi when the producers contemplated releasing the film on the digital platform.Luckily for AkshatSaif and all the super-talented actors and technicians, the film now gets a big big-screen release in January.

Sighs Akshat, “You work hard on a film, and on every detail ,its sound design, the music mix, the colour correction…After that  you cannot have your work  placed on a platform that shrinks its qualities. I am just happy that we’re going to be seen on the big screen. Not to undermine the digital platform which works just fine in today’s day and age.”

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Akshat Verma: What You Hear In Kaalakaandi Is How These People Speak