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Kuttey Review: Arjun Kapoor's Cop Act Impresses, But Tabu Is the Real Star of Aasmaan Bhardwaj Film

By: Titas Chowdhury

Edited By: Shrishti Negi

News18.com

Last Updated: January 13, 2023, 11:30 IST

Mumbai, India

Kuttey marks the directorial debut of Vishal Bhardwaj's son Aasmaan Bhardwaj.
Kuttey marks the directorial debut of Vishal Bhardwaj's son Aasmaan Bhardwaj.

Kuttey A

3/5
  • Invalid Date | Hindi
  • 1 hrs 52 mins | Action Thriller
  • Starring: Tabu, Arjun Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Kumud Mishra, Konkona Sensharma, Radhika Madan, Shardul Bharadwaj
  • Director: Aasmaan Bhardwaj
  • Music: Vishal Bhardwaj

Kuttey movie review: Tabu carries the film on her more than able shoulders with an incredible finesse and charisma.

What would we do without Tabu?

The enigmatic actor started her career with late actor and filmmaker Dev Anand’s Hum Naujawan (1985). Over the years, she has proved her mettle as a force to reckon with a slew of unconventional and taboo-defying themes in Astitva (2000), Chandni Bar (2001), Filhaal (2002), Cheeni Kum (2007), Jawaani Jaaneman and A Suitable Boy (both 2020). She also saw commercial success with blockbusters like Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999), Drishyam (2015), Golmaal Again (2017), Andhadhun (2018), Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (2022), among many others. But in Tabu’s words, it is filmmaker and musician Vishal Bhardwaj, who gave the actress her best works with Maqbool (2003) and Haider (2014). So, it’s no surprise that the director’s muse is also a part of – and a key one at that – his son Aasmaan Bhardwaj’s debut film, Kuttey.

Tabu carries the film on her more than able shoulders with an incredible finesse and charisma. She lights up the frame every time the camera shifts focus on her. Once again, she plays a cop in the film, only she sheds off the protocol-oriented mannerisms of one. In Kuttey, she plays Poonam – widely referred to as Pammiji. As the film progresses, we come to know that she’s unmarried, seldom a softie and unapologetic about snatching her share of a criminal’s money – she dreams to own a big house close to ‘Zaved Akhtar’s’ bungalow in Lonavala because she’s physically too big to fit into a matchbox-sized police quarter. She’s not your regular cop who can bring down a bunch of goons with punches and sprints. She begins panting heavily after chasing down a bad guy through the gullies of Mumbai amid a local wedding. Her foul mouth doesn’t make you cringe but burst into peals of laughter. So, when she narrates the famous tale of the bichhoo (scorpion) and the mendak (frog), you can’t take your eyes off her and listen to her intently even though we recently heard the brilliant Shefali Shah narrating the same story to her daughter, played by the inimitable Alia Bhatt, in Darlings (2022).

Speaking of the bichhoo and the mendak, Kuttey stays true to its title and makes multiple allusions to several animals, be it a cow, a dog, a lion or a cobra. But the best part is that these names aren’t just tossed out of nowhere. The metaphors, no matter how whacky they get, eventually make perfect sense. The very first sequence in the film sees actor Konkona Sensharma’s Laxmi narrating the story of a cow, a dog and a lion to actor Kumud Mishra’s Paaji, and that sets the tone of the film. In fact, towards the end, you will realise that Kuttey is indeed the story of the bichhoo and the mendak. The film is divided into five parts much like a book – a prologue, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, chapter four and an epilogue. Each section opens up a new story – all connected through a metaphorical thread following a structured exposition, rising action, crisis and falling action - and then they come together towards the end of the film but still doesn’t provide you with the poetic respite.

Arjun Kapoor’s Gopal and Paaji are two cops, who are entrusted with the work of shooting down Surti, a drug dealer, by an infamous killer played by Naseeruddin Shah. They manage to shoot him and escape from the spot by pocketing bags full of drugs. However, they get caught by the police at a check post. On reaching the cop station, they realise that they’re being suspended for breaking the law despite being men in uniform. They eventually take Pammiji’s help, who tell them that she will be able to save them from losing their job if they bring her Rs 2 crore. They set out to get hold of the money. More people get thrown into the mix of illegal dealings and what happens next is unraveled in the subsequent chapters.

The first half of the film seems to be quite stretched out. It takes time to establish the crux of the narrative. One might even feel that the writing lacks gumption. But the action and the rhythm and pace of the story pick up in the second half, especially with the commencement of the absolutely hilarious third chapter titled ‘Moong Ki Daal’. It is packed with ample situational comedy to tickle your funny bones. Now, this isn’t a film that is filled with funny one-liners, which will make you clap and whistle. But like most films by Vishal, this one too is quirky, bizarre and is laced with oodles of dark humour. Aasmaan, in his debut film, seems to hit the ball out of the park. It is difficult to hit a sixer with your first film, especially if it has a cast full of heavyweights, but Aasmaan, largely achieves so. Though too early, it wouldn’t be wrong to state that Vishal’s legacy is in safe hands.

The background music of the film composed by Vishal is an icing on the cake. It perfectly complements the chaotic and frenzied action sequences. The only complaint is that we don’t really get to revel in Ek Aur Dhan Te Nan like the way we did with Shahid Kapoor’s Kaminey (2009). While Vishal’s films are also known for their songs, the only song from Kuttey that is mostly likely to stay back with you is the zany Vaat Lagli and maybe that’s because of the riotous visuals that accompany it.

Arjun Kapoor as Gopal plays a cop once again after the noteworthy Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021). Would it be wrong to assume that cop avatars are lucky for him? Maybe not. He delivers an extremely impressive act in Kuttey. His Gopal is greedy, corrupt, helpless and rash but you still feel for him. His subdued comic timing deserves brownie points.

Konkona Sensharma plays a Naxalite leader. She once again sheds the shin and plays a resolute and unyielding revolutionist with bravado. The clash between them and the police might not be as hard-hitting as in the Rana Daggubati and Sai Pallavi starrer Telugu film Virata Parvam (2022) but Kuttey doesn’t intend to do that either. Aasmaan and Vishal intelligently bring together the conflict between greed, power and corruption, and revolution for anti-establishments in a subtle and witty but sensitive way.

Kumud Mishra plays Paaji with an inspiring grit and determination. He seems to be the only character treading on the path of virtue in Kuttey. One may assume that this is the reason why we only get a glimpse of his family life. His scenes with Tabu are pure gold.

Naseeruddin Shah doesn’t have much screen time but he commands your full attention every time he appears in the frame. Radhika Madan as Lovely is written as a stubborn and free-spirited girl but it’s an undercooked character and sadly, doesn’t bring much to the table. In one scene, she’s seen engaging in a profound monologue about how she missed having a regular childhood as a curse for being born into the family of a dreaded killer but it doesn’t add much substance to the story or her character. Shardul Bharadwaj, a henchman and Lovely’s love interest, doesn’t get to do much either.

But once again, Tabu is the real star of the film. Kuttey belongs to her. She’s flawed but you still root for her. Kuttey wouldn’t be what it is without her delightful presence. The effortlessness and charming chaos that she brings to the table and then revels in it like a true blue artiste is worth lauding. This brings me back to my question, what would we do without Tabu?

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first published:January 13, 2023, 11:03 IST
last updated:January 13, 2023, 11:30 IST
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