Onto the leftover from the weekend and I finished watching the new Malayalam film Kotthu which is streaming on Amazon Prime. One of the reasons why the Malayalam Film Industry has been successful is their ability to tell stories which are grounded in reality. Their stories might be simple, often based on a single premise, but it is the layered screenplay that often is a winner.
When it comes to political dramas too, it is Malayalam cinema that have had solid stories to tell irrespective of the current political situation which can often get tricky. And in no ways were dramas like Pada mellowed down. So when I did get to know about Kotthu, of it also being a political drama, I was gung-ho about it. Now that I have finished watching Kotthu, here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Kotthu follows the story of two party workers and how they get entangled in their party’s political ideology of revenge killing. The story here is supremely engrossing and engaging and it most definitely makes for a compelling drama. The screenplay standing at a shade above 150 minutes might seem slightly daunting but the drama is fast paced and instantly sucks you in.
What I really enjoyed about the drama straight up was its world building which is a crucial cog in a political drama. So after the very first scene showcasing a brutal murder(that set the ball rolling perfectly), you are tactfully introduced to the main players of the world. There is an underlying current of politics with concepts of communism cleverly thrown in. The simmering tension in the drama that is set in North Malabar region is quite palpable here wherein you almost always think that something is got to give. This while there is a nice little subplot involving the budding romance of the protagonist that also eventually has a political angle to it as you dwell deeper in the drama.
The drama here is engrossing and engaging. The conflict here is not a single event but rather a chain of events that do come with its share of consequences. These events might seem simple but they are quite layered and correctly capture the mood of the drama. But this drama is also about the character dynamics – one of them being that of friendship. The relationship between the two protagonists is similar to the one you would see in RRR amidst the political turmoil wherein each character consciously or sub-consciously has political motivations for their actions.
On the slight downside, some of the subplots seemed to be half baked whereas the reality was that they did have a lot of potential like the character of Inspector Inderjith that was left hanging halfway. Even the final act did seem underwhelming wherein I was expecting a late twist in the tale and something that could have easily been implemented but the writers did opt for a surprisingly simple ending despite the character transformation. But overall, the screenplay is still pretty well written and definitely compelling from start to end.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are sharp and solid and definitely create an impact. The music is good and the positive thing is that the songs do not stall the flow of the drama. The BGM blends well with the mood of the drama and the area that it is set in. The cinematography is top notch. Director Sibi Malayil does a swell job in keeping the audience thoroughly invested in the drama. Also the mood of the layered drama is captured perfectly for which the director deserves a lot of credit.
The performances are excellent here. Vijilesh VT and Atul Ram Kumar have their moments to shine. Ranjith as the leader of the political party is top notch and rather unassuming. Sreelakshmi as Gayatri is first rate. Nikhila Vimal as Hisana looks pretty and is wonderfully restrained here. Roshan Mathew is one of my favourite actors at the moment and as Sumesh he is brilliantly endearing wherein your sympathies also lie with him. He reeks of innocence, unaware of the consequences and the vulnerability that he brings to the table is just heartening to watch. Asif Ali as Shanu is brilliant with a towering presence in a performance that commands your attention. He has a lovely character arc too and he pulls it off beautifully.
Despite a slightly underwhelming ending, Kotthu is a compelling political drama that deserves to be watched. Available on Amazon Prime.