Qala review: Enchanting drama hits all the right notes

In ‘Qala’, a playback singer during the late 1930s begins experiencing mental decline due to the fractured relationship with her mother as well as certain events of the past. The psychological drama is now streaming on Netflix.


Qala Manjushree (Triptii Dimri) is a renowned playback singer in the Indian film industry during the late 1930s. However, she is slowly losing her mind.

The catalyst of this can be traced right back to her birth. Her twin brother didn’t survive as she absorbed nutrients from him, being the healthier of the two. This led to resentment from her mother, Urmila (Swastika Mukherjee).

While Urmila tried her best to make her a respected singer, a boy named Jagan (Basil Khan) ended up catching her eye with his exceptional vocal skills.

She takes Jagan under her wing and begins to completely neglect Qala. Urmila also pulls strings with Chandan Lal Sanyal (Sameer Kochhar) to get Jagan into the film industry as a playback singer.

Chandan manages to get an audience for Jagan, including Sumant Kumar (Amit Sial), a leading actor. However, things unravel when tragedy hits Jagan.

What happens to Jagan? Does Qala finally get her mother’s attention or completely lose her mind?


Dimri is scintillating as Qala. She displays a lot of potential and her performance will undoubtedly be well-received by the viewers.

Qala isn’t an easy character to play. Her yearning for her mother’s attention, coupled with her willingness to hold nothing back to become successful, makes her extremely flawed, yet deep. But Dimri is near flawless.

She is matched step for step by Mukherjee, who plays her mother Urmila. Their scenes together sparkle and explore authentic emotions. The two are the stars of this film.

Babil is decent in his debut. But there is a glaring discrepancy between the voice of the singer providing playback for him, and his real voice, which makes Jagan’s singing feel inorganic.

Kocchar and Sial are excellent as well, and complement the lead cast in making this yesteryear narrative feel convincing.


The cinematography is exquisite. You can sense the amount of effort that has been put into making this world and it feels like a genuine reflection of the 1930s.

The film has been shot well in general, with icy landscapes and remarkably detailed sequences. This is simply a visual treat. 

But it’s not limited to that. The music, created by Amit Trivedi, is nothing short of magical and a fitting ode to that time period. It will transport you to the 1930s.

An important theme of the movie is the exploration of Qala’s psychological issues, handled well by director Anvitaa Dutt. Right from birth, she has been neglected and treated harshly by her mother.

This simmers until she inevitably loses control, losing her mind along the way. The narrative comments on how treatment by parents can lead their children to ruin.

There is also criticism for the patriarchy that existed during the time and even lingers today. Little is expected of Qala in terms of ambition, and a lot in terms of ‘favours’, a harsh truth for many women across the decades.


For all the build-up, the conclusion is underwhelming. The payoff isn’t worth it, while a certain change of heart comes too easily and without nuance.


Qala is an extremely well-crafted film that manages to look and sound mesmerising as it highlights glaring social issues. Easily one of the best Indian films on Netflix.

Qala review: Enchanting drama hits all the right notes 1

Director: Anvitaa Dutt

Date Created: 2022-12-01 13:30

Editor's Rating:

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