Kathal movie review (2023)
Unconventional is an apt word to describe “Kathal,” a Hindi film that effortlessly weaves humor and satire into its narrative, addressing everyday corruption and the manipulation of the police force by local politicians. The film boasts an unlikely collaboration between production houses Balaji Films and Sikhya Entertainment, a combination that might seem like chalk and cheese but manages to deliver a remarkable cinematic experience that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking.
At the core of “Kathal” is a story reminiscent of the acclaimed “Dahaad.” Set in a fictional locale in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, the film follows the journey of Mahima Basor (Sanya Malhotra), a determined young police officer in the semi-rural heartland. Her path takes an unexpected turn when she stumbles upon a series of missing girls that the local police have failed to locate. However, “Kathal” adds a refreshing twist by crafting a comedic narrative that will both exasperate and amuse its audience. In a nod to Emir Kusturica’s filmmaking style, the film portrays both cops and criminals as comically absurd, while the politician who holds sway over the police force becomes an unwitting source of amusement.
Mahima Basor embodies the film’s central theme – a dedicated officer navigating the complexities of a region where crime has become normalized and the police are merely bureaucratic placeholders. Her team includes a constable fervently searching for his stolen car, crucial for his daughter’s impending wedding, and bosses prone to bungling press conferences. When local MLA Munnalal Pateria (Vijay Raaz) calls the shots, they follow without hesitation. The unfolding saga centers around the disappearance of two hybrid jackfruits, vital for a political trade deal, setting the stage for an engaging plot. However, when these jackfruits vanish, Mahima’s perplexed pursuit of the seemingly absurd case leads to a far more critical issue – the disappearance of a young girl, the daughter of a humble gardener.
In a society marked by caste biases and gender discrimination, the missing girl’s plight goes largely unnoticed due to her lower social status. Even her boyfriend, a somewhat lackluster constable, fails to give the case due attention. Seizing a rare opportunity in a constrained environment, Mahima exploits the high-profile jackfruit theft as a means to delve into the missing girl’s case, revealing the neglect of numerous similar cases. With strategic wit, she enlists the help of a local media figure (Rajpal Yadav) and her team, leading to a chain of comedic errors. The climax sees an uproarious deluge of weaponized vegetables and fruits, creating chaos for Mahima and her team. However, her tenacity prevails, ultimately resulting in a triumphant resolution.
Director Yashowardhan Mishra masterfully addresses deep-seated societal issues like caste prejudices, gender biases, and petty corruption through colloquial humor and relatable situations. While the film’s narrative remains light-hearted, it deftly underscores the underutilization of our overburdened police force. Amidst all this, the film maintains a genuine local flavor and authenticity, thanks to its impeccable writing. Sanya Malhotra’s portrayal of Mahima is impeccable, capturing the character’s accent and embodying naturalistic acting. The ensemble cast, including Rajpal Yadav, Gurpal Singh, Anant Joshi, Neha Saraf, and Govind Pandey, deliver pitch-perfect performances, elevating the comedy while addressing pressing societal concerns.
Sometimes, the power of storytelling lies in its simplicity. “Kathal” is a testament to this notion – an engaging narrative that effortlessly entertains while shedding light on India’s societal challenges. It’s the perfect choice for a light-hearted weekend watch that doesn’t shy away from addressing real issues in a refreshing and enjoyable manner.
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