Kala, starring Tovino Thomas and Sumesh Moor, isn’t an obviously beautiful film. It’s certainly immersive and Thomas certainly has the kind of brutish beauty to give evil, a sexy, aspirational allure. But the audio-visual spectacle of the film has the kind of consummate impact that makes it unable to parse the audio, directed by Dawn Vincent, from the visuals, framed by Akhil George .
Besides it’s not a still film, the camera is constantly agitating, and so, a lot of the beauty is in motion — the way the areca nut climbers slip from one tree branch to the next by bending it as the shaken leaves fall, or the way the light dances underwater as the two men pummel, or the way the camera looks down from above, and suddenly blurs, then ripples to give rise to a bullet of rain water that slowly makes its way to the tussled, bloody men. It can be argued that the camera is mostly still only when it is looking up or down. At eye-level it is giddy with excitement.
Even the still frames, though, are bursting with kinetic energy, almost insulted to be distilled to a moment. Take the frame reproduced below of Thomas looking towards the right. Behind him, the hood of a cobra rises, as if about to sting him. Suddenly from the left of the frame an animal pounces on the snake. How does one capture this kind of energy in a single frame?
Here is an attempt to do that very thing. 25 frames from the film that prove its visual calibre, and also prove that beauty is not just skin or screenshot-deep. In the motion pictures, the beauty can be in motion too. The film is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and Neestream, among other platforms.