Cuttputlli is decent thriller let down by ridiculous climax

Akshay Kumar has a passion for studying serial killers in Cuttputlli. Photo: Universal Communications

Remakes are of two kinds: The first is the frame-to-frame remake, with just names and locations changed and some necessary cosmetic modifications. Such films can be easily dubbed or subtitled instead. These kinds are generally considered passé today as the originals are freely available on OTT platforms. They are risky commercially as well.

The second is the one where changes are made as per perceptions (real or assumed!) of audience-base (pan-Indian) and plots or their sections modified, while retaining as much of the core as possible. In whodunits, the climaxes too can be redesigned. And Cuttputlli is such a remake, where the end has been modified (as per what I am told), and proves the film’s undoing.

Cuttputlli thus falls in the second category. The climax ends up as the sore point. On the other hand, the underlying humor in many a sequence (I have not watched Ratsasan, on which this film is based, so I do not know if that was there in the original) is quite good, and makes the film quite riveting and entertaining along with the momentum of the plot. Until the climax, that is!

This brings me to the fact that film critics too are of two kinds! The first one seeks to compare originals with remakes, obviously always to the latter’s disadvantage, refusing to see any film objectively, as a standalone movie. The second one sees every film, even a remake of a regional or foreign film, as a standalone product, without comparing it to the original, even if they have watched it. Yes, it’s tempting to do so, but they rise above it. They do mention the originals in points and make some points, but the overall judgment is fair and not unduly influenced by comparisons.

In this case, I am lucky to have not watched the original, and find Cuttputlli a decent thriller about a serial killer. The proceedings are brisk and the tension mounted fairly well.

Arjan Sethi (Akshay Kumar) has a passion for studying serial killers around the world, and he wants to write a film on one, but his scripts are rejected. Needing sustenance, he is cajoled by his sister (Hrishitaa Bhatt) and husband (Chandrachud Singh), a cop, to go stay with them and join the police force, as Arjan’s father was a cop who died on duty and he will get the job easy. Reluctantly, Arjan agrees.

And suddenly, the hill station is plagued with the kidnapping of a schoolgirl and exactly two days later, her mutilated body wrapped in plastic is found in a prominent spot. A macabre box containing a disfigured doll’s head is also seen on the spot as a token signature of the killer. And the victim has been tortured to death in exactly the same way as the head of the doll.

Initially, no one takes Arjan seriously when he suggests a serial killer with a modus operandi theory. But soon, as the pattern is repeated, the cops have no choice but to believe it. However, there is the involvement of a pedophile schoolteacher, Purshottam (Sujith Shankar) in Arjan’s niece Payal (Renaye Tejani)’s school that leads to his being booked for the murders as well. When in detention, another kidnapping and murder take place and he is found innocent. However, he tries to escape and is killed by Arjan, who is thus suspended. He then decides to investigate independently and solves the case.

The film’s climax is full of ridiculous absurdities. Arjan has fallen in love with Payal’s teacher (Divya), who looks after a tot named Iti (Seher Bhowmik), who is hearing-impaired. While it is fairly clever how a hearing-aid that can also record human conversations is used, it is laughable how, when Arjan is on a mission, he calls Divya and tells her that he is at work but will drop in on the way! For what? She is not even involved in the person he is chasing! The magician track also is full of flaws, and the climax thus becomes, the more you think about it (which you must do so in a good thriller!) more of an anti-climax.

That said, I must admit that Ranjit M. Tewari (who impressed with BellBottom last year but not with his debut film Lucknow Central) does a decent job of the direction, and Aseem Arora’s dialogues have due sparkle and wit. The beginning is well-executed and so are certain key sequences, like the discovery of the corpse in a car boot and the aftermath. Also, the pedophile’s sequences have a chilly grip.

Akshay Kumar sails through yet another performance with ease, though the role is far from meaty or challenging in the remotest way. Rakul Preet Singh is efficient and Sargun Mehta and Shahid Latief strictly alright as the cops. The young girls, especially Renaye Tejani as Payal, are impressive and a special note should be made of Sujith Shankar as the pedophile.

The songs, as per current norms, are completely forgettable (the song Saathiya looks straight out of BellBottom despite the different heroine!) but Julius Packiam’s background score largely works. Technically, the film is good. But we could have done with a cerebrally-conceived climax. How different or same it would have been from the original’s end does not matter.

Rating: *** 

Disney+Hotstar present Cuttputlli  Produced by: Vashu Bahgnani, Jackky Bhagnani & Deepshikha Deshmukh  Directed by: Ranjit M. Tewari  Written by: Ram Kumar & Aseem Arora  Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Dr Zeus & Aditya Dev Starring: Akshay Kumar, Rakul Preet Singh, Joshua LeClair, Sujith Shankar Chandrachur Singh, Sargun Mehta, Hrishitaa Bhatt, Gurpreet Ghuggi, Renaye Tejani, Shahid Latief, Rez Kempton, Seher Bhowmik & others




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