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“Qala” (Review) Retrospective on the Parental Trauma: Heartbreaking

That Netflix show is going to be intense, and nothing can prepare you for it.


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Warning: The plot will be spoiled. When a story’s title reveals key plot points without any additional context. It’s one of the few times analysis actually piques one’s interest. Qala, which can be translated as “talent,” is fraught with gender politics and emotional upheaval. This OTT release is a scathing look at a mother-daughter dynamic. One to which many South Asian women may be able to relate. It reopens some old wounds while trying to apply a bandage to others.

Urmila (Swastika Mukherjee) is first seen waiting patiently in the shadows for her twins to be given back to her. Right away, she learns that the more powerful twin killed the more vulnerable one, leaving only the baby girl alive.

Urmila and Qala (Tripti Dimri) have a rocky relationship for a variety of reasons
Physical abuse, emotional neglect, and the manipulation of the protagonist’s sense of self-worth are just some of the ways in which psychological violence manifests itself in their tumultuous, terrifying relationship. Maybe the women who have been in similar situations at home will find the disapproving looks, sudden silences, lack of conversation, and time spent outside the house as punishment a little too familiar.

The film shows how outdated social norms can lead to and sustain violent behavior within families. In order to keep up appearances, donning the poisonous cape of destructive masculinity. It is necessary while drawing on their femininity to advance the goals of another man.

Yes, among the many men in Qala, there is one who becomes a source of trouble for our hero. Young and talented Jagan (Babil Khan) captivates Urmila with his performance, while Qala’s earlier display of skill goes largely unnoticed. Their mother feels the same overwhelming adoration that she had before the death of her infant son. In this way, Jagan takes Qala’s place as the favorite child.

Qala finds herself in the middle of a blizzard of feelings, and the images on the screen become metaphors for her state of mind: cold, barren, and with so little light that getting anywhere seems impossible. Jagan is also not to blame here. His most gifted weapon—his voice—is also his greatest flaw in the eyes of Qala and, perhaps, the audience.

Urmila, however, stretches herself thin to make him into the daughter she supposedly wanted (and the daughter Qala believed she would become if she worked hard enough to earn her mother’s love). Qala’s choices after that, made when he was upset, hang over the rest of the movie like an axe wrapped in a question mark, making the audience wonder if the life-or-death choices he makes are really predetermined.

The film is a powerful testament to the long-term, horrifying effects of trauma caused by authoritarian parenting styles. Qala is a look at how misogyny affected the lives of women in the 1940s through the lens of classical music and the entertainment business.

What the story may lack in tempo, it makes up for in intriguing character development. A moving score that has become a fan favorite, and mesmerizing camerawork and editing.

It is both breathtaking and hard-hitting to see Tripti portray the two distinct Qalas: the one with whom the world engages as the pinnacle of vocal excellence, and the other to whom only a select few are privy in moments where she falls apart. She makes the audience feel compassion for her scarred and traumatized inner child, who has had to endure the consequences of decisions made for her by authority figures or the social climate.

Swastika is quietly ferocious as the controlling, terror-inducing mother who continues to feel let down by the presumed murderer of the son she could have had and who eventually finds solace in the vocal prowess of Jagan, the son she adopts, who comes as a herald of social capital.

In spite of his brief on-screen time, Babil does a good job portraying Jagan. His first foray into the Indian film industry is both a tasty treat and a reason to grumble. Although viewers may wish to see more of him, they understand that even his limited screen time is crucial to the plot. Babil’s portrayal of the character is mysterious and enigmatic, but it is subtle and effective. Irrfan Khan’s son carrying on his father’s monumental legacy is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The actor’s legion of devoted fans.

In the midst of all the politically charged, propaganda-driven noise that its parent industry has been producing. Qala appears out of nowhere like a beautiful dream. It’s a powerful example of how to broach taboo subjects without coming across as preachy. Also, it gives people hope again, which has been missing from modern media.

Qala insists, on the people who use Indian movies as a way to escape. These stories told by women that deal with hard topics can work and leave an indelible, important, and necessary mark. 

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