Verdict: An ineffective spooky film with an unconvincing culmination.
Kawela is being touted as the first psychological thriller made in Punjabi cinema. Considering its trailer and the way it has been marketed, you expect an enthralling film, with chills aplenty. Do the makers manage to spook the viewers? Sadly, No!
Kawela starts off with a murder of a couple in a secluded area of a village. The police begin its investigation but do not get any clue of the murderers. This is followed by a series of deaths in the village. When the police do not get any breakthrough, the villagers start blaming supernatural powers as the reason for the deaths. Sub Inspector Gurjinder Singh (Mahabir Bhullar) decides to unfold the mystery behind the deaths and during the investigation, he stumbles upon various secrets hidden in the village and amongst villagers. How he manages to find out the real reason for the deaths forms the rest of the story.
Real stories about ghosts, spirits, haunted mansions and paranormal activities aren't alien for the people of Punjab. These stories concerning supernatural forces continue to make the rounds to this date and make us break into a cold sweat, especially when you listen to them in rapt attention at nights. This aspect makes the plot of Kawela identifiable to the viewer. Also, from the current lot of Punjabi film-makers, who prefer romantic comedies, here’s one film-maker choosing a subject of psychological thriller variety, perhaps changing tracks. His sole aim is to take the viewer on a mysterious journey.
The unspoken and unwritten rule of a psychological film made on untold stories of evil spirits is simple – they ought to scare you at the right places and the culmination needs to be the best part of the story. Kawela fails in both these aspects. There are numerous directorial flaws in the narrative and a lot of questions remain unanswered. There are way too many cinematic liberties taken which you can’t digest. The makers have tried to give a social message towards the end of the movie, but the path they had followed to reach that conclusion makes the film fall straight on its face.
Another thing that goes against the movie is the pace of its narrative. The proceedings move at a snail’s pace with not much happening in the story. A majority of the sequences are shot in slow motion, which after a point, make the viewer uncomfortable.
Speaking of performances, Mahabir Bhullar does well. Harp Farmer doesn’t get ample scope. Amongst the villagers, Chander Kalra registers the maximum impact.
Director Amanjit Singh Brar gets full points on making an effort of moving on ‘a road less travelled’. But he loses grip on the movie mid-way through the narrative. He fails to keep the viewer hooked on to the proceedings. Editing (Abhineet Grover) should have been much crisper. Given its genre, and also that it is a songless movie, the ideal length should have been less than 2 hours, instead of the actual 2 hours 45 minutes runtime. The camerawork (Gagandeep Singh) is efficient, especially the shots taken in water to show the proceedings.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Watch Kawela if you feel like watching something different from the usual rom-coms being churned out every week. If stories of supernatural powers and evil spirits excite you, then this one is for you.