Onto the next release of the weeekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Kathal which is now streaming on Netflix. One of the reasons why I was looking forward to the film was because it did star Sanya Malhotra whose choices have always been interesting. In times of actors cautiously opting for ‘safer’ commercial ventures, here is an actor that has slowly but surely carved her own niche and has excelled in each of her performance previously. And I expected nothing short of excellent from her in Kathal.
Kathal, as unusual as the name may sound for a film, did give me an impression that this would be a delicious satire in more ways than one. The thing with Hindi films is that satires are a rarity especially due to the times that we live in. If a film especially in the Hindi speaking belt, has to be a satire then its writing has to be sharp by almost playing out the politics of the situation in the second layer. And so a fine line needs to be treaded to balance the humour with the seriousness of the situation. And in that regard, Kathal did give me hope. So then does Kathal manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Kathal follows the story of a group of cops who have been assigned a task of investigating the disappearance of jackfruits from the bunglow of a local politician. The seriousness of the story here does lie in its trivial conflict and that is what makes Kathal special. It is a sharp commentary on various issues veiled as a trivial and frivilous comedy and for that writers deserve credit straight up. The screenplay here standing at a shade under 2 hours does make for a hilarious watch with several references to a buffet of social evils and disparities.
The drama does begin with the introduction of the protagonist who is shown to be a fearless cop. Unfortunately for her(and her team), she is assigned a trivial case of the disappearance of jackfruits from a local politician’s bunglow. In the midst of this trivial conflict, the writers do ask pertinent questions via some of the characters. Despite there being a plethora of cases to solve, the police are tasked with solving a trivial case is a satire in itself. Yet, the writing does not get bogged down by addressing this particular issues. There are hints thrown in of other issues related to patriarchy(with the husband of a cop wanting his ‘wife’ to come home to cook a meal for his guests), or caste differentiation(with a couple of characters belonging to different castes having to fight their own little personal battles), or the plight of the cops who have to sacrifice their personal lives in order to carry out their duties.
The proceedings are entertaining and hilarious with the help of some sharp writing. There are hints thrown in throughout the narrative that eventually act as crucial plot points. But at no stage do the writers lose focus of the main plot while addressing other issues. In a sort of a parallel track, a poor man visiting a local police station to file a complaint of the disappearance of his daughter, is sent off home(as the cops as busy with the jackfruit mystery), thus further enunciating the satire. Yet, this plot point is nicely weaved into the narrative where the second hour has a lot of purpose attached to it.
If I had to minutely criticize the writing then it would be for the plot threatening to get convoluted in the middle as opposed to the simple premise which it had. Yet, the writers do control the proceedings and get the screenplay back on track almost immediately. One distincg credit should be for the writers maintaining the tone of the drama pretty well. They did not get carried away or try something drastically different. The tone was light and frothy with a hint of seriousness to it. The events created thus are funny and they do evoke laughter. A subtle take on the media in a subplot does add purpose to the drama as well. The events leading up to the final act are enthralling and they set up things really well for the final act. And the grand reveal behind the jackfruit mystery does turn out to be hilarious as well. Overall, the writing is sharp and makes for a textured and layered watch if you are willing to read between the lines.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are quirky and make for a hilarious impact. The music and the BGM exude of raw notes which is synonymous of the rustic bylanes of the area where the drama is set in. The cinematography does capture the vibe of the drama pretty well. The editing is sharp for most parts of the film. Director Yashowardhan Mishra does handle this subtle social satire with a lot of honesty. The proceedings are well handled and that does make for a good watch, much of which can be attributed to some good direction.
The performances are pretty good here. Brijendra Kala is hilarious in his respective role as is Raghubir Yadav as Gulab Seth. Apoorva Chaturvedi as Amiya is pretty good. Gurpal Singh as Angrez Singh is absolutely effortless as always in his role and he does cater to laughs and chuckles. Rajpal Yadav has a comic timing to savour and cherish and he is absolutely smashing as Anuj. Vijay Raaz as the local politician is pitch perfect with his expressions and he will tickle your funny bone with his performance. Govind Pandey as Mishra is aptly cast in a job well done(and I genuinely feel sorry for his car🤣). Neha Saraf as Kunti is phenomenal to watch and she does a great job. Anant Joshi as Saurabh is sincere and he does have a good presence onscreen. And it is Sanya Malhotra who yet again shines as Inspector Mahima. She is slightly playful to begin with but as the drama progresses, she continues to add different dimensions to her character. There is a sense of charm to her character and she does a brilliant job here!
Kathal is a delicious social satire on jackfruits and more that makes for a hilarious watch if you are willing to read between the lines. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!