Qala review – a harrowing look into mental health as an artist

December 1, 2022
Amanda Guarragi 0
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
3.5

Summary

Qala is a film that highlights mental health and the pressures of being a woman in an industry that doesn’t give you room to breathe. Everything is pre-determined for you, and not being able to make those choices can do more harm than good.

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3.5

Summary

Qala is a film that highlights mental health and the pressures of being a woman in an industry that doesn’t give you room to breathe. Everything is pre-determined for you, and not being able to make those choices can do more harm than good.


We review the Netflix Indian film Qala, which does not contain spoilers.

There have been films that highlight mental health and suicide in different ways, but the way writer-director Anvita Dutt connects the visuals with Qala Manjunshree’s (Triptii Dimri) emotions is powerful.

Haunted by her past, a talented singer with a rising career copes with the pressure of success, a mother’s disdain, and the voices of doubt within her, as per the synopsis on IMDB. Mental health, anxiety, and depression can all stem from childhood. The older we get, the more we realize that the catalyst of our adult issues comes from the way our parents treated us. Parents always want the best for their children and they push them too hard into something they don’t even want to do.

Qala was forced into the music industry because her father fell ill, and her mother disciplined her to become just like him. Even when others would compliment Qala, her mother would twist the words and find a way to box her into her mind, telling her that she isn’t good enough.

There are choices made to show what is happening in Qala’s mind, as Dutt utilizes flashbacks at the proper moment within the present time to trigger a memory. The film flows from past and present, and there’s a clear distinction between the two.

The cinematography by Siddharth Diwan is exceptional as he shows Qala’s anxiety early on in the film, which triggers a downward spiral into her trauma. She is at the top of her game in the music industry, but a piece of her is missing. Since the day she was born, her mother resented her. She had many things stripped from her, and it felt like she wanted to make Qala’s life difficult.

There are key moments in Qala’s life that she remembers that altered the way her brain functioned. The way she approached people, or even spoke to them, changed because her mother was present. She was never relaxed and always had her guard up.

During the musical performances, the production design and costumes were gorgeous and set the tone of each performance. Whether it was the father or Qala, they both moved differently at the centre of the room. The parallel between her father’s illness and Qala’s was hard to watch because they both loved the music they were putting out.

The pressure of everything consumed them, and it was ultimately their downfall. Qala kept flowing in and out of consciousness with her trauma and reality, and Diwan showed that visually as well. Qala’s mind is complex, and she thought that she had to deal with her mental illness on her own because she didn’t understand it. There are many things she does that were a cry for help, but even her mother wanted nothing to do with her.

Netflix’s Qala is a film that highlights mental health and the pressures of being a woman in an industry that doesn’t give you room to breathe. Everything is pre-determined for you, and not being able to make those choices can do more harm than good.

What did you think of the Netflix film Qala? Comment below.

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