King of Kotha filled with vendetta, vice, vicious vitriol

Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Prasanna, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Gokul Suresh, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Nyla Usha

Direction: Abilash Joshiy

The nation woke up to some amazing cinema during the Covid-19 pandemic. Restrained within their homes, they discovered God's own country and with it a cinema captivating in vision and engrossing in content. To those who yearned for cinema of a different kind, this was a one-stop shop. All this is now coming to a stop. The Kerala filmmaker is now a manufacturer with a reputation and, if you go by Dulquer's latest outing, without responsibility.

Debutant director Abhilash Joshiy is in a self-indulgent mode and has an appetite for the flavour of the season: violence. Berserk script, meandering narration, unimaginative execution defy the expectation of the viewer of what is associated with Malayalam cinema.

Over to Kotha — a place in Kerala where the narrator informs us are buried those who went to the grave during the days of the British, untried and unsung. The town now is a haven for violence, lawlessness and chaos. A police officer is stabbed by a drug lord and the system is helpless. Which India is this!!

Mom sells snacks by the road. Son Kannan (Shabeer Kallarakkal) is the drug don who stabs police officers with the ease of using a hot knife to spread butter on bread. After he so packs off a police officer, replacement comes in the form of circle inspector Shahul Hassan (Prasanna) who is made of sterner stuff. His commitment is tested and he is forced to succumb to the threats of Kannan — qua his wife's pregnancy. His assistant, SI Tony Titus (Gokul Suresh), takes him down memory lane to tell him that the one person who can handle the evil Kannan is his no-love-lost friend Rajender alias Raju (Dulquer Salmaan). There are multiple references about Raju to create an aura around him. In contrast to Kannan, Raju hates drug peddling and has ensured that Kotha in his time was drug free. He too maintained a team of six guys who were a law into themselves. One in the group is Tony, who is now a part of the police. In the past, Kannan too was.

Initially, the group is inimically disposed to Ranjith (Chemban Vinod Jose) who loves to break into English at the drop of a bottle. The Ranjith-Raju crisis takes a good part of the footage. Raju has violence in his genes — he has inherited it from Dad Kotha Ravi (Shammi Thilakan).

Raju has a love interest in Tara (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who is a one-person squad against drugs. She is an educated seller of books, he a lumpen violent alcoholic — a heady mix. This is also a relationship that is pregnant with the possibility of derailment. With onion layers of deceit, crime, violence, and cinematic intrigue you begin to concentrate on the snack combo more than the challenges of Kotha.

This Kerala celeb of mainstream violence is a complete unadulterated grotesque tale of vendetta, vice and vicious vitriol.

What about the cast and crew? Nothing worth talking about. There is nothing seemingly venomous about Shabeer Kallarakkal. Nyla Usha as Kannan's wife is earnest. Aishwarya Lekshmi has a very poorly etched character.

It is reported that Dulquer is tired of his roles and is working in the space of experimentation. This experiment is designed to doom. Bad start. Prasanna and Gokul Suresh are credible. In the course of the film, the SI tells his scheming boss: "You are worse than the goons" — a statement for the filmmaker to introspect. When a film is made in made in multiple South Indian languages, you hope that it is dictated by the superiority of Malayalam cinema. This time you resign to the fact that it is the other way round.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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