After delivering four back-to-back disasters – ‘Bell Bottom’, ‘Bachchan Paandey’, ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ and ‘Raksha Bandhan’ – at the box-office Akshay Kumar has decided to release his next movie ‘Cuttputlli’ directly on the OTT platform.
An official remake of ‘Ratsasan’, a Tamil movie released in 2018, ‘Cuttputlli’ is certainly better than Akshay’s recent duds but that’s a bar too low.
Arjan Sethi (Akshay) is an aspiring filmmaker who wants to make a movie about serial killers. But after his father passes away, he gives up on his dream and reluctantly joins the police force. Meanwhile, a series of murders of teenage school girls set off panic in Kasauli and its neck of the woods in Himachal Pradesh. These murders are committed by a serial killer who is on the prowl since the pattern of all the killings is the same.
The Kasauli police don’t make much headway during the investigation and that’s when Arjan starts taking a keen interest in the case since he has read extensively about the psychology and patterns of various serial killers. How he untangles the mystery behind the murders forms the rest of the story.
The premise is interesting and the movie boasts of a few splendidly shot sequences but the desultory screenplay throws spanner in the works. The subplots are meandering and thoroughly unconvincing which mitigates the overall impact of the build-up. One such example is the track of the school teacher (Sujith Shankar) which is devoid of both rationale and intrigue. How can a teacher brazenly molest and harass girls in front of everyone in school without any repercussions?
Rakul Preet Singh plays Divya, Arjan’s love interest, but has little to do in the movie. The romantic track takes away the thrill and only ends up distracting viewers from the main plot.
The pace at which the movie moves is another impediment. Now, slow-burn thrillers can be intensely engaging if the narrative is taut and has a seminal build-up. But in the case of ‘Cuttputlli’, the pace is slackened by trite songs and sketchy subplots which aren’t in symphonic sync with the core story. The climax is also a sore point.
Akshay is left to do the heavy lifting and the seasoned actor doesn’t disappoint. He elevates several sequences with his earnest performance and manages to grab the audience’s attention for a while. But his efforts are undone by uneven structure and digressive narrative.
Rakul Preet looks stunning but her role lacks meat and substance. Sargun Mehta as the SHO Parmar certainly leaves an impact with first-rate performance. Chandrachur Singh and Hrishitaa Bhatt pass muster.
Ranjit Tewari’s direction is comme si comme sa. He handles a few scenes deftly but fails to craft a taut thriller. The screenplay by Assem Arora is the biggest drawback of the movie. The narrative is jarring, subplots are too thin and unimaginative, and many scenes are gratuitously contrived. Even if one condones many loopholes, the slipshod screenplay mars the mood of the film and scuttles the gravity.
The cinematography by Rajeev Ravi is eye-filling and captures the landscape beautifully. Chandan Arora as an editor is competent but the banal screenplay makes the film look longer than it is.
‘Cuttputlli’ isn’t completely shambolic but why would anyone settle for a garden-variety, humdrum thriller in this day and age when there are much better whodunits streaming on OTT platforms?