What is the story about?
Gulabi, the wife of Lakhan and the daughter-in-law of the village sarpanch in a village somewhere in Haryana, witnesses the death of her son Suraj at Lakhan's hands, and then the concerted attempts by her family to keep it a secret so as not to hurt their chances in the upcoming panchayat elections. Will Gulabi stay quiet or speak up?
Kasaai is not an easy film to sit through. If you’re familiar with the way families keep a tight rein in their children's love lives in rural India, you'd be familiar with its milieu. Based on a short story by acclaimed Hindi novelist Charan Singh Pathik, the film explores the way in which Suraj's family goes all-out to hush up his accidental death, so as not to hurt the sarpanch's chances at getting a reelection. In such a scenario, Gulabi, Suraj's mother, witnesses firsthand how her family decided to invent a story about Suraj getting killed by a devil inhabiting the banyan tree. It is a sickening experience to sit through it all. However, the film suffers from some inconsistent writing in the last half-hour. As Gajendra S. Shrotriya's film heads towards its climax, the screenplay seems to run out of ideas. This has an impact on the climax, which becomes almost like a street play with no clear direction whatsoever. This takes away a bit from the hard-hitting impact of the film.
The film belongs to Mita Vashisht's Gulabi, who conveys her helplessness powerfully with her eyes at times. Ravi Jhankal plays Lakhan, who will go to any lengths to cover up the truth of his son's death. Mayur More plays the hapless Suraj, while Richa Meena is effective as his lover Misri. V.K. Sharma underplays his role as Sarpanch Poornaram effectively, while Ashok Banthia gives a wily performance as Bhaggi Patel.
Music & Other Departments
Ashwin Ameri's camerawork tries to give a gritty, handheld feel to the proceedings, but it looks amateurish in certain sequences. Nishant Nag's background score is effective.
The highlight of the film has to be the flawed climax, which still sends shivers down your spine when you think of how close it is news headlines you encounter everyday.
The pacing of the film towards the end and lack of direction in the climax becomes a stumbling block
Did I enjoy it?
Yes, I enjoyed it as a slow-burner that explores the darkness that resides within human beings.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. It definitely merits a one-time watch.