Movie Review | Kathal: You can go bananas with this jackfruit

Jackfruit, kathal in Hindi, is often used to describe a person who on the surface might appear to be a tough guy, but in reality, is soft-hearted. Exactly the same is the concept behind ‘Kathal’. Apparently, it appears to be a comedy movie dealing with a cop tasked to find two jackfruits that are stolen from MLA Munnalal Pateria’s (a caricaturish Vijay Raaz) house in a village. Sounds familiar? Well can’t blame you for drawing a parallel with real-life incidents but the disclaimer clearly says it doesn’t have any resemblance to reality. Be it so.

However, scratch the surface a bit and we have a movie that to a large extent is a scathing satire of contemporary times and what ails our society today.

So, Mahima Bansor, played by Sanya Malhotra, is on a mission. She is extended the best arms and ammunition support by her senior so that she can find the stolen jackfruits. While her colleague, namely Saurabh Dwivedi (Anantvijay Joshi) who is also her beau, laments the plummeting standards of thievery in the country, Mahima takes her work seriously and approaches it with utmost precision. A detailed inquiry is conducted, CDRs are sought and the needle of suspicion points towards disgruntled Birwa Mali (Ambarish Saxena) who was sacked from the job a few days before the jackfruits went missing. Here’s where Mahima gets her real case and we our story. His teenage daughter, a free-spirited Amiya (Apoorva Chaturvedi) is missing and so are 43 other girls.

This is when Mahima decides to try out an ingenious idea so that she can trace Amiya and find jackfruits too.

Yashovardhan Mishra has directed the movie and also co-written it with Ashok Mishra. ‘Kathal’ has a solid story. Had it been some Hindi novel by now it would have achieved a cult status. It sheds light on the hollowness of our system, tells us how our politicians misuse their power, talks about how the downtrodden are still a voiceless and choiceless lot, discusses the role of the fourth pillar of democracy, and how and why the administration gets its priorities wrong.

More or less, it belongs to the same genre as ‘Dahaad’. The only difference is ‘Kathal’ is more subtle while ‘Dahaad’ is dark and so much in your face at times.

But the makers have failed to do justice while executing this multilayered complex social drama espousing many themes in one go. ‘Kathal’ hints at several malice and leaves them at that. For instance, there is a beautiful and innocent romantic track between Mahima and Saurabh. Mahima outranks Saurabh at the workplace but the latter belongs to the so-called upper caste. When Birwa Mali is called for interrogation and asked to sit, he invariably crouches on the floor denoting a class gap between him and Mahima. Amiya is castigated for her dressing sense as she is poor and is not supposed to be clad in modern clothes. When Mahima is interacting with a cop from another police station, sexism is displayed at its worst as he keeps admiring her for her figure rather than focusing on the issue she is discussing.

‘Kathal’ begins on a great note, proceeds at a promising pace but eventually succumbs under its own weight. After an hour or so in the movie, it just loses steam and never becomes the critique disguised as the slice-of-life comic caper it had set out to be.

‘Kathal’ stays content with targeting the low-hanging fruits and comparing apples and oranges to bring out the social disparity. However, it’s still worth watching for a sincere performance by Sanya Malhotra and the sensible story it has. Had there been more fineness and maturity in direction, it had the potential to be a ‘Peepli Live’. Till then, these jackfruits of uncle hong variety are hanging on Netflix.

Movie: Kathal

Director: Yashowardhan Mishra

Cast: Sanya Malhotra, Anantvijay Joshi, Vijay Raaz
OTT: Netflix

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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