|Produced By||Andaz Productions & NFDC|
|Directed By||Fareeda Mehta|
|Music By||Ved Nair|
|Sadiya Siddiqui||Irrfan Khan|
|Vrajesh Hirjee||Jeetu Shastri|
|Kay Kay Menon||Surekha Sikri|
Sultana (Sadiya Siddiqui), a small town prostitute and her pimp Khudabaksh (Jeetu Shastri) migrate to Mumbai bringing with them their dreams and meager belongings. She is moved by the life in big city but is unable to find any clients and Khudabaksh too is unable to churn an income. Sultana finds herself bereft and turns pensive. Her loneliness and despair get objectified in her desire for the 'kali salwaar' (black lower garment) that she needs to complete her black ensemble for the observance of mourning in Moharram. One evening she solicits and beckons Shankar (Irrfan Khan) who charms her with his wit and humor. Sultana requests her for the Kali Salwar and he asks her for her imitation ear rings in return. In due course, Shankar provides for the Kali Salwar she desires only for Sultana to find that he had merely exchanged her ear rings for salwar of another prostitute. The two women meet and in a moment of silence that ensues become aware of what has happened.
Kali Salwaar is based on the writings of Saadat Hasan Manto who is best known for his short stories, "Bu" (Odour), "Khol Do" (Open It), "Thanda Gosht" (Cold Meat), and "Toba Tek Singh" and marks Filmmaker Fareeda's directorial debut.
Kali Salwar impressively brings together actors of varied hues and successfully paints a beautiful landscape of commendable performances. Irrfan Khan and Kay Kay Menon are celebrated actors today but even back in the day they were flawless. Saadiya Siddiqui has been around for an equally long time if not more and perhaps never got her due as an actress. From playing Shah Rukh Khan’s bubbly sister in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa to a sad debacle opposite Abhishek Kapoor (better known as a director for Rock On and Kai Po Che) in a disastrous ‘Uff Yeh Mohabbat’, she was reduced to bits and piece character roles. Kali Salwar is perhaps one of her best performances till date. She gives it all and goes beyond herself and one can only sympathize and fall in love with her character. Even when in the same frame with actors like Irrfan Khan and Surekha Sikri, one can’t take eyes off her subtle expressions.
The director Fareeda also needs to be applauded for her vision. She does exceedingly well in weaving a story that goes past the original narration from Manto. Kali Salwar creates a parallel contemporary world in which Manto himself exists as a character and interacts with others from his different stories - Mohammed Bhai being one such character. The canvas of the entire film exudes artistic brilliance. Another highlight of the film is the paintings on the set interiors, which were done by renowned painter Bhupen Khakkar.
Anyone who has read Manto’s work will enjoy this film. To summarize, it’s a definite 4 out of 5 and a recommended watch.