Kennedy Review | Anurag Kashyap’s Whacky Noir Thriller Is a Captivating Character Study

At one point in the movie Kennedy, the hero is confronted by his wife, and she tells him there is an Animal inside you, and that is dangerous for the family. For someone like me who saw Animal a week back from a theater, Anurag Kashyap’s Kennedy felt like a perfect reply for all those who compared Scorsese movie violence with Vanga movie glorification. With a screenplay that reveals the various aspects of its problematic central character in a very engrossing manner, Kennedy is a distinctive character study with quirks and craft.

The story is set against the backdrop of the COVID times, where the corrupt Mumbai Police are struggling to make bribe money. Our man Kennedy is this hitman who works for the Mumbai Police commissioner in the disguise of a premium online taxi driver. The past of Kennedy and why he was loyal to the Commissioner, etc., is what we see in this Anurag Kashyap film.

It’s not that every element in this movie is fresh or something unheard of. What was compelling for me was how those tropes were infused into the screenplay as part of making us understand the psyche of that character. Anurag is not trying to empathize with the character by giving us any backstory on how and why he became such a person. Even in the flashback bits, the man is shown as someone who gets this orgasmic pleasure in killing a human being. What Anurag has managed to pull off convincingly is creating curiosity around the history of that character by placing the revealing events at the end and teasing us initially with distracting hints.

Rahul Bhat, as the title character, portrays the irreverence and underlying sadness of Kennedy brilliantly. His performance adds a sense of depth to the less-talked-about past of that person. It is not a character that requires too many movements of the facial muscles, but getting into the headspace is sort of essential in pulling off this character, and I feel Bhat had done that perfectly here. Apart from the awkwardness of her laugh, Sunny Leone was a fine choice for that role. Mohit Takalkar played the part of the Commissioner effectively, and TVF fame Abhilash Tapliyal’s casting as Kennedy’s soft-spoken companion felt really apt.

I don’t know to what extent Anurag Kashyap has improvised the scenes. There is a whacky texture to almost every killing that is shown in the film. The absurdity and unpredictability of those horrifying murders make the movie hilarious and, to an extent, unsettling for the viewers. I really enjoyed how Anurag squeezed in his views on the power politics happening in the mainstream through the mouth of a corrupt official who clearly describes how Bada Papa owns everything. The other thing I sort of enjoyed seeing was the apolitical nature of the psychopath hero. In one scene when you kind of feel the hero might take the political stand of Kashyap, in the debate about the COVID mismanagement, Anurag surprises you by sticking to the thought process of the killer alone.

The typical unconventional music choices of Anurag Kashyap are here as well, and the neon lighting of the songs will remind you of movies like Dev D. The subject is on the dark side with a hero who is in a very clumsy state, where he can’t control his urge to kill while a part of the brain wants to fix things and apologize. And the lighting of the frames by
Sylvester Fonseca is a reflection of the state of mind of that character. If you look at the flashback portions of the hero, where he is on duty, the lighting is pretty flat, as there are no dilemmas in his head at that point. As I already said, the restructuring of the events to create curiosity works brilliantly for this movie.

Kennedy has Anurag Kashyap approaching a subject without any sort of compromise and very much achieving what we would envision as an Anurag Kashyap creation. With a script that keeps you interested in the content along with a terrific performance from Rahul Bhat, Kennedy is a noir thriller that has a very alluring cinematic genuinity to its credit.

Final Thoughts

With a script that keeps you interested in the content along with a terrific performance from Rahul Bhat, Kennedy is a noir thriller that has a very alluring cinematic genuinity to its credit.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.