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Cuttputlli: A Confused Akshay Kumar Vehicle That’s Convinced of the Audience’s Stupidity

The film, a remake of the Tamil movie Ratsasan, remains a missed opportunity
Cuttputlli: A Confused Akshay Kumar Vehicle That’s Convinced of the Audience’s Stupidity
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  • Divy Tripathi

  • Film Companion

Last Updated: 07.47 AM, Sep 14, 2022

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cuttputlli
cuttputlli

The ‘serial killer’ subgenre of mystery thrillers, when painted in the form of a hunt (Zodiac, Silence of the Lambs), have the propensity to create a fear of the unknown. A good ‘serial killer’ film keeps the audience on the edge as they track the killer down through the eyes of the investigators, while also making them identify with the victim’s plight. The latter is done by taking a sensitive approach when creating these crimes and giving the wronged a space for emotional release.

Pretty much all of this is thrown out of the window in Akshay Kumar’s Cuttputlli. The movie’s super sleuth lead who has Dahmers, Bundys, and Raders pasted on his walls, kills his dreams of becoming a moviemaker when he refuses to bow down to a producer’s demand of letting the serial killer get away in the end. This is based on Arjan’s (Kumar) belief that no serial killer escapes punishment. The movie could’ve taken a different track had our hero brushed up on some of his cases, for instance, the Zodiac Killer, who was never captured.

This pushes him to take up a job in the police at Kasauli, which is haunted by a serial killer who is targeting schoolgirls. One could’ve expected things to pick from here, however, the movie becomes a mud fest from hereon.

The audience can be assured that it is a true Akshay Kumar film, for the everyman ‘serial killer’ expert who has recently joined the force singlehandedly investigates every clue, be present at all crucial steps of investigation, be the only one with any expertise in these cases in the entire police outfit, and rescue a victim from the villain’s lair. We haven’t even touched the part where he gets wronged time and again by his incompetent SHO and her cronies who take credit for his achievements, and his redemption which sees these ‘irritants’ bow down to him.

Apart from that, it is difficult to tell if Cuttputlli sees itself as a ‘serial killer’ movie. Genre mashups are always welcome, but the abrupt nature with which the movie brings them about leaves one befuddled. The film opens hinting that it is a crime thriller but soon turns into a dramedy featuring Arjan’s family. In the middle of an important investigation, Arjan decides to romance Divya (Rakul Preet Singh) while also scaring off some bullies. There are some elements of emotional tragedy thrown in the middle but all of it seems meaningless unless centred around Akshay Kumar’s character.

Then there are the black and white paper-thin characters. The development arc for his supporting characters is nearly non-existent, they are present solely to nod and acknowledge his superior intellect.

The film is at times adamant about its political incorrectness. Before her sudden change of heart, the SHO (Sargun Mehta) is an adamant, insecure woman whose sole role seems to be around bringing down Arjan and looking after her selfish interest. Divya’s seemingly feminist character is created to throw words like ‘male chauvinism’ around, only for her to be proved wrong by Arjan’s kindness. The final fight sequence, sees our hero mock the killer by using the same derogatory term which his bullies had used back in the school days.

The worst part of Cuttputlli is that it actually features an interesting premise, but messes up everything in the name of execution. There could have been a genuinely interesting conversation around crimes against women, and a subplot about an abusive teacher could have highlighted the dangers of power imbalance in a classroom. 

Instead, the movie tries to create a simplistic tale and feed it to the audience, explaining the most obvious bits in detail. There is an aura of invincibility around our hero, which means that he’d be the only one to save those in peril. This leads to the creation of a pathetic suspense sequence wherein one feels that an assaulted girl’s plight exists solely as a plot point to depict Arjan as the saviour.

If there are any redeeming qualities in Cuttputlli, they centre around the beautiful locales and a decent background score. There’s only one sequence which manages to stand out, featuring Narinder (Chandrachud Singh) and Arjan’s reaction to a tragic discovery, where the two men break down and bare their raw emotions.

Overall, Cuttputlli remains a missed opportunity.

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