At two different points in the film Kuttey, two characters narrate fables. It is very obvious that these two stories are going to play a vital role in the shaping of this film. But what is exciting about Aasmaan Bhardwaj’s debut venture is the way he has placed these fables to achieve that black comedy high point. With the humor gradually slipping into a subtle commentary on the social hierarchy, the smartness with which this movie becomes political deserves to be appreciated.
The film has this chapter-wise narration, and Gopal, a corrupt cop in the Mumbai police, is, in a way, our central character. He and his associate Sardar are involved in a lot of illegal activities. At one point, they find themselves in a complicated situation that could end their police career. A lot of money was necessary to get out of that mess, and their risky shortcut mission to find that money is what we see in Kuttey.
The way the fun black comedy layer and a serious political layer co-exist in this movie is perhaps the most fascinating thing about Kuttey. The story about the lion, dog, and goat grabs your attention immediately and subconsciously makes you curious about how it will impact the rest of the movie. Aasmaan, in his screenplay, uses the first half to establish the characters and the setting. Actually, the second half’s initial portions are also dedicated to this establishing purpose. The final chapter and the epilogue put a smile on your face as every detail you saw till that point gives you clarity about the whole picture.
As Gopal, Arjun Kapoor is given a character that is a lot rawer, and the flawed nature of that character provides a version of Arjun that isn’t familiar. Kumud Mishra as Sardar was actually the character that maneuvered the politics of the film, and perhaps he was depicting the audience’s perspective. Tabu was having a ball being this witty and cunning police officer, and it was a delight to see someone like her pulling off such a character in a free-flowing way. Radhika Madan depicted her character Lovely with the necessary amount of ferocious energy. Eeb Allay Ooo! fame Shardul Bhardwaj delivered a memorable performance, and Naseeruddin Shah’s character had minimal runtime but, somewhere, demanded that intimidating persona. Konkona Sen Sharma, as the Naxal leader, was again a perfect casting.
Aasmaan Bhardwaj’s filmmaking choices are inclined toward striking visual grammar. Almost 80% of the movie is set in the night, and cinematographer Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi captures the events from a very third-person POV. Maybe the enthusiasm of first-time filmmakers, Aasmaan and Farhad are trying out all the options here. When Gopal was getting the idea for quick money, they used a dutch angle. Paaji’s dilemma is conveyed using blood red color (almost reminding me of Selvaraghavan frames). If I am not wrong, there was a one-second split diopter shot of Arjun Kapoor, which Sreekar Prasad chopped very quickly. The detailing Aasmaan has given to the characters never felt like a burden to the movie. The only bit that felt like forceful addition was the chase to find the driver. That could have been trimmed. Vishal Bhardwaj’s music was perfect, and Tere Saath was a beautiful song that blended very nicely with the narrative.
Even though they have used the Kaminey song in the movie, it isn’t a film that is entirely in the zone of the Shahid Kapoor starrer. But the dark humor really works, and the quirky nature of the narrative makes it a breezy entertainer with a duration of just 112 minutes. After clearly showing the dogs and goats in the social hierarchy, I was curious how they would introduce the lion into the picture. But that climax was hilarious and ballsy!
With the humor gradually slipping into a subtle commentary on the social hierarchy, the smartness with which this movie becomes political deserves to be appreciated.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended