In 2009, Vishal Bhardwaj released ‘Kaminey’, a film featuring a group of crooks in a highly entertaining plot. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated Bollywood feature ‘Kuttey’ directed by Vishal’s son Aasmaan in 2023, does not live up to the same standard.
By virtue of his background, Bhardwaj Jr had access to a talented ensemble cast including Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kumud Mishra, Arjun Kapoor, Radhika Madan and Shardul Bhardwaj, with additional screenplay and dialogue by his father and written by the renowned Gulzar. The story follows a group of corrupt cops and criminals as they chase after packets of drugs and stashes of cash. Konkona plays a Naxalite leader, Kumud Mishra and Arjun Kapoor are cops who bend the law, Naseer is a hood in a wheelchair, and Radhika and Shardul are young and ambitious. The characters all desire something they lack, be it freedom, money, or the ability to live fully. The film explores where greed and violence will lead them.
When a film is not entirely original, it relies on its treatment to make it stand out. However, as the audience waits for the characters in ‘Kuttey’ to do something to make the film the thrilling experience it promises to be, it becomes clear that it will be a long, disappointing wait. The majority of the first half of the film feels like a chaotic and uninteresting set-up, with the characters sliding in and out. The post-interval portion gives a glimpse of what the film aimed for with its dark, twisty and fast-paced storyline, but overall it remains disjointed and unfinished.
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The only actor who shines in the film is Tabu, who delivers a powerful performance. She is dressed in black trousers, white shirt and red lipstick, and exudes a combination of strength and grace. She is the only one who reminds the audience of the potential the film had to be enjoyable. Naseeruddin Shah and Konkona Sen Sharma are not given enough to do, which is a major disappointment. The rest of the cast goes around in circles and the presence of a group of Naxalites in the outskirts of Mumbai feels out of place.
If this film had not been made by the son of a filmmaker who has had a significant impact on Hindi cinema, it may not have been such a disappointment. I had high hopes that this film would have its own unique signature and continue the legacy of Vishal Bhardwaj. However, every time the recurring ‘dhan-ta-naa’ song plays, it serves as a reminder of the gritty and enjoyable ‘Kaminey’ and how the current film falls short in comparison.