Director: Ranjit M Tewari
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Rakul Preet Singh, Sargun Mehta, Chandrachur Singh, Hrishitaa Bhatt
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
I think people of my generation share a love-hate connection with Akshay Kumar. Most of Kumar’s films since Hera Pheri have a cult following, owing mostly to his impeccable comic timing. While doing mostly comedies since the 2000s, the superstar/actor has appeared in the likes of Namaste London, Baby, Airlift, and Special 26. But lately, Kumar has sleepwalked through his recent releases. But in Cuttputlli, he gives one of his most sincere performances.
For one, there’s no glaringly fake mustache. In Cuttputlli, Kumar plays Arjan Sethi, an aspiring screenwriter-turned-cop. Kumar portrays this reluctant sub-inspector with self-conscious body language and a softened voice. In spite of his towering presence in real life, he looks the part of a subordinate in front of an average built SHO Parmar (Sargun Mehta).
Cuttputlli is a remake of the 2018 Tamil film Ratsasan, meaning the original was a hit. I haven’t watched the original so there’s nothing to compare. So, here’s what worked for me and what did not in this flick. The film maintains its slow burn pace and kept me engaged for the most part. It must have been intended for a theatrical release, guessing by the unnecessary song and dance cutting from a birthday party and coming back.
The setting is Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh where a serial killer is brutally murdering teenage girls and leaving their bodies in public places for the police to find them. The serial killer is effectively kept in suspense. Because this is a crime thriller, there’s a fair bit of procedural drama in it. The dynamics between the cops have something new to offer.
Gurpreet Ghuggi gets to play a slightly intense role for a change (of course, from whatever I have seen of him). Sargun Mehta plays the SHO with command and the change in her approach towards Akshay’s character in the latter half of the film looks believable. Chandrachur Singh plays another cop and Arjan’s brother-in-law. The actor tries to give some blood and flesh to an underwritten character. Rakul Preet Singh appears on screen as a breath of fresh air as she does in most of her films. Her screen presence is instantly likable. However, in a couple of scenes, she breaks character when she takes costume inspiration from Sushmita Sen’s sexy chemistry professor from Main Hoon Naa.
The film’s positives are its background score, editing (albeit, it could have chopped out the song), and cinematography. The screenplay seems forced on certain occasions but otherwise progresses smoothly. The exchange of dialogue between Akshay and Rakul, and Akshay and Sargun are some of the film’s best moments. The big reveal in the climax is rushed but its culmination is a bit stretched.
Post-pandemic, how a film would have done theatrically versus how it does on OTT has become inevitable. The Hindi film industry is waiting with bated breath for the audience to come to the theatres. This flick is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and is worth checking out.