Kaul’s 2nd film continued his exploration of cinematic form via this adaptation of Rakesh’s play featuring the legendary Sanskrit playwright Kalidasa (Abhignan Shakuntala, Kumarasambhava, Meghdoot), a figure tentatively identified as a court poet in the reign of Chandragupta II (3rd C. AD). The play presents the ethical dilemmas of an artist by requiring Kalidasa to choose between his lover Mallika and his duties at the court of Ujjain. The film is set in a small hut on a hillside and concentrates on three characters: Kalidasa (Khopkar), Mallika (Sabnis) and their friend Vilom (Shivpuri). The characters’ lines, mostly monologues, were pre-recorded and played back during shooting, freeing the actors from any vestiges of theatrical conventions. The sparse realism of Uski Roti (1969) is replaced by Mahajan’s sensuously shot landscapes and languid camera movements, minutely registering light changes within the frame, at times by slowly shutting the aperture.
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