Kuttey marks the directorial debut of Vishal Bhardwaj’s son Aasmaan Bhardwaj, who has studied filmmaking at the fabled School Of Visual Arts in New York. And being Vishal’s son, must have grown on a healthy dose of his father’s films as well. Given these facts, it isn’t hard to surmise why Kuttey is a mix of American filmmaking and Vishal Bhardwaj’s style of crime cinema.
Kuttey begins with Konkona Sen Sharma’s character Lakshmi, a Naxalite, narrating an overdrawn fable, which establishes that policemen are the dogs of the system, thus justifying the film’s name. Though dogs are loyal to the core and the policemen depicted here are anything but, we assume it’s all a case of mixed metaphors. Midway, we listen to another fable, this time narrated by Tabu, who plays a hard-boiled cop called Pammi. She narrates the story of a frog and the scorpion, something we heard in Darlings as well. This fable establishes that one can’t change one’s basic nature, even when it comes in the way of one’s survival. We then see corrupt cops Gopal (Arjun Kapoor) and Paaji (Kumud Mishra) getting a contract to kill a mafia don’s rival, only to see them going on an all-out war, and the main target escaping. Worse, they end up looting drugs amounting to crores from the crime scene and get caught. The higher-ups agree on one crore each to get them off suspension and to clear their names. While a depressed Paaji contemplates suicide, Gopal takes to looting a money van. The glitch is that others want to heist the van as well, leading to mayhem all around.
Apart from the three cops, there’s also Radhika Madan, playing the disgruntled daughter of a mafia don (Naseeruddin Shah) and Shardul Bharadwaj, a henchman in love with his boss’ daughter. We also see Aashish Vidhyarthi popping up in a two-minute role as a safety contractor. The various characters somehow end up together during the heist and the end result is a bloodbath indeed.
The screenplay is too clever for its own good. It splits into too many strands, which get hurriedly tied up in the end. Some scenes are genuinely funny, like the one where the Moong dal whatsapp group gets made. Another scene has Tabu explaining the significance of angdaai. It’s the funnest take on corruption you’ll hear. Tabu can be said to be the soul of the film. She has given her best to Vishal Bhardwaj and has literally seen Aasmaan grow up in front of her. So it’s easy to see why she has gone an extra mile for her favourite filmmaker’s son. She shows a very different side of her playing Pammi, and we wouldn’t mind a solo movie just on her character. Maybe Rohit Shetty can collaborate on that. Arjun Kapoor has gone the whole haul as well. His best scene is where he sings a lullaby to his child via a mobile phone in a crowded bar while planning a heist. His sincerity and passion playing a grey character should be lauded. Kumud Mishra plays a corrupt cop with a conscience and can be said to be the moral compass of the film. Radhika Madan’s and Shardul Bharadwaj’s story arc should have been explored more. They are competent in their scenes, as expected. Actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma and Aashish Vidyarthi are only here because of past association with Vishal and don’t really have much to do.
The film ticks most boxes but lacks the gravitas we’ve come to be associated with Vishal Bhardwaj’s films. This is only his first film and hence one can overlook the hiccups. We’re sure Aasmaan is going to develop his own style, chart his own journey in the future…
Trailer : Kuttey Kuttey Kuttey
Ronak Kotecha, January 11, 2023, 6:00 PM IST
Story: A bunch of corrupt cops hatch a plan to rob a van carrying crores of hard cash, meant to refill the ATMs across the city. But as more crooks join the party, it turns into a bloody free for all.
Review: Divided across three quirkily titled chapters, debutant director Aasman Bharadwaj’s ‘Kuttey’ starts off with a bang and keeps powering its screenplay with interestingly dark, sharp and self-centred characters. In them are unscrupulous police officers, drug dealers and even Naxalites. Each one has an ulterior motive and their rule is simple — shoot first, ask questions later. The narrative is stuffed with a battery of characters and their stories and a mildly unpredictable premise of a dog-eat-dog world.
‘Kuttey’ justifies its title. Sometimes even trying too hard, Aasman and his co-writer and filmmaker father Vishal Bharadwaj, give us a relentlessly twisted thriller, throwing in every trick in the book to confuse and engage the audience with a convoluted and chaotic narrative. It’s thrilling and entertaining, but not without loopholes and flaws in the writing that clearly struggles with the problem of plenty. With so many stories and subplots running concurrently, some get side-lined.
In its ensemble cast, it’s easy to pick your favourite. Tabu tops the list. The talented actress lives Pammi’s many eccentricities and makes the character extremely likeable. Surrounded by treacherous and bloodthirsty men, she’s the only badass boss lady, mouthing expletive-laden dialogues and bringing some much-needed comic relief as well. As always, her pitch is perfect and appears effortless. Naseeruddin Shah, Konkana Sen Sharma, Radhika Madan, Shardul Bharadwaj and Kumud Mishra make their limited time on screen count. Arjun Kapoor has more to do, as the unabashedly amoral Gopal and the actor delivers an honest performance, but he can do with a few more variations in his expressions.
What lifts ‘Kuttey’s constantly dark and gritty narrative is the catchy tune of Vishal Bharadwaj’s iconic composition ‘Dhan te nan’ that lingers in the background. The film’s original score by Vishal, infused with Gulzar’s unique lyrics, blend well with the screenplay without stalling the pace of the film.
As a debutant director, Aasman Bharadwaj proves his mettle by juggling an overstuffed plot and a bunch of talented actors. ‘Kuttey’ isn’t exactly a deep, dark satire made to perfection, yet it is a wildly entertaining mishmash of guns, goons and gaalis.