Cuttputlli, a psychological crime thriller film directed by Ranjit M Tewari (previous Bell Bottom 2021), is a remake of the 2018 Tamil film ‘Ratsasan’ and features Akshay Kumar, Sargun Mehta, Rakul Preet Singh, Chandrachur Singh in pivotal characters.
The narrative begins with Arjan Sethi (Akshay Kumar) preparing to direct a crime thriller. A son of a cop, with deep interests in crime research. He has spent almost 7 years researching on various crimes globally and has prepared a script to be a director. But soon finds himself in a cop uniform in the quiet, beautiful, exotic and lush green valley of Kasauli. Arjan is recruited as a sub inspector (in place of his dead father) and instructed to do sundry duties. Soon he chances upon an opportunity and shares his input in a brutal child murder case. At first, he is belittled but sooner his theory proves correct. From here begins Arjan’s chase into an unknown clueless direction.
After a couple of more murders in a defined pattern, the force nabs a suspect who gets eliminated and they feel a sigh of relief. How can a suspense thriller end so easily!
Soon, it is revealed that even after the suspects elimination, yet another brutal child murder takes place and the chase begins all over again. The rest of the film is about Arjan stumbling upon clues and chasing the unknown. Does Arjan and the force succeed in pulling the plugs on this serial killer is the crux of the story.
The Khiladi (read Akshay Kumar) got into the ‘uniform’ in 2004 with three films in a row beginning with Khakee, Police Force: An Inside Story, Aan: Men at Work. But his most remembered cop drama happened with Special 26 followed up by Holiday, Baby, Rustom, Naam Shabana. The latest ones being Bell Bottom and Sooryavanshi. With so many successful films in the similar genre Akshay Kumar slips into the skin easily and looks comfortable. However, for the lovers of the genre and his previous films, this seems to be lagging in terms of the strategic trappings in the script and the revelation of the unknown. Fans might miss his witty strategy that spins the surprise and compels to revisit (special 26 to Naam Shabana is viewed by audience with the same fervour and get satisfied each time). That said, this film had a great scope and could have been a shade better.
A strong point of Cuttputlli happens to be the setting and the environment. Shot in the non-urban locations with old fashioned houses, narrow lanes of Kasauli become a character itself. It adds to the overall intrigue in the narrative.
A thriller is as good as its narrator and actors, working on little nuances, quick emotions and palpable fear in creating well-defined and detailed, yet conflicted characters. Ranjit M Tewari seems to have got a hang of exploiting Akshay Kumar’s persona and has used it meticulously. He has tried to keep the narrative as tight as possible in creating this gritty, thrilling and emotional ride except for the couple of songs and an unnecessary romantic angle. (Can a hero and heroine not exist without being romantically involved!!)
Akshay Kumar, a mass entertainer, plays this multi-layered character, shifting gears between being a cop and humane. Rakul Preet Singh is fine and navigates her way with subtle emotions and a fine performance. Television star Sargun Mehta is a revelation. Chandrachur Singh is an established and seasoned actor and does justice in his small part.
The background music helps maintain the thrilling pace and keeps the emotion quotient intact. Mounting tension is a requirement of this genre and the background music composers have done exactly that.
One would guess as to why Cuttputlli was released directly on OTT skipping the theatrical route. That one aspect plays a spoil sport with the setting and the climax shot in the dark that would have experienced better in a theatre screen and environment. For all the Akshay Kumar fans and those who wouldn’t mind a thriller outing, Cuttputlli is a better alternative of the recent times and proves to be a small redemption from Akki to his fans!
Director: Ranjit M Tewari
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Rakul Preet Singh, Sargun Mehta, Chandrachur Singh and Hrishita Bhatt
Duration: 134 mins