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Kotthu review: Sibi Malayil makes a grand comeback in this poignant take on eye-for-an-eye politics

Asif Ali and Roshan Mathew's Kotthu also paints a vivid picture that it's not easy to get out of the trap of bloodshed and violent politics as the pressure is too immense.

3.5/5rating
Kotthu review: Sibi Malayil makes a grand comeback in this poignant take on eye-for-an-eye politics
Kotthu poster
  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 11.07 AM, Sep 17, 2022

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Story:

After the murder of a political party member, a senior leader incites Shanu, Sumesh and their two friends, who belong to the same party, to seek retribution. This however has far-reaching ramifications on just their lives but also their near and dear ones. To complicate matters further, Shanu gets married to Hizana on the same day the police ask the senior leader to handover at least one suspect to save the face of their ruling party. Sumesh volunteers but the plan gets derailed, with both Shanu and the former's mother having to suffer the emotional consequences of what transpires next.

Review:

At the end of Sibi Malayil's Kotthu, you would wonder how many monuments of those who had sacrificed their lives for the communist party have been shown in various crucial junctures of the film. The Sibi Malayil directorial itself is a stark reminder of the aftermath of the bloodshed politics in Kerala, especially in Kannur. But contrary to previous films that have dealt with the subject, the film foregoes an overall social impact and sticks to the lives of its characters that get derailed in this venge-filled, eye-for-an-eye politics that only serves the purpose of party leaders who don't get their hands dirty. This is also what makes the movie a poignant tale as the emotional ramifications of the families of those who kill and are killed is the primary focus of the movie, which is solidly written by Hemanth Kumar.

The movie revolves around Shanu (Asif Ali), who is brought up by the communist party after he is orphaned following a political attack. His friends and fellow party members Sumesh (Roshan Mathew), Sreejith and Aji are united by the party ideals - the depth of their knowledge is deliberately left vague to show they are mere puppets in the hands of manipulative senior leader Sadanandan (Ranjith). The group lands into trouble after Sadanandan asks them to seek retribution for the murder of one of their fellow comrades.

The film isn't a political drama per se as it focuses on the people that make up the lives of Shanu and Sumesh specifically. Shanu gets married to Hizana (Nikhila Vimal) right after he commits a crime. This complicates the matter, as Sumesh decides to become the scapegoat under the guarantee that Sadanandan would help him get a quick release from the law. The guilt that Shanu harbours, the pain of Sumesh's mother and the fear pervading the group, who is awaiting an attack from the other party - all of this makes Kotthu a gripping watch. 

Asif Ali in a still from Kotthu
Asif Ali in a still from Kotthu

The character transformation of Shanu is the most striking. Sequences with his wife as well as Sumesh's mother being the highlights as he seeks to justify his actions but only to dig himself further. The movie also paints a vivid picture that it's not easy to get out of the trap of bloodshed and violent politics as the pressure is too immense; this is shown even through the fear in hearts of the cops whose actions are dictated by the politicians.

Shanu is probably Asif's best role yet and the actor performs out of his skin in the last act as a conflicted man, trying to do what's right but never quite conquering his demons. Roshan Mathew once again proves that he is an actor capable of sinking into the skin of his character. As Sumesh, he reflects the angst and anguish the character traverses. Nikhila Vimal, Sreelakshmi and Ranjith too are brilliant in their roles. 

Kotthu poster
Kotthu poster

Hemanth's writing also ensures that despite dealing with a hard-hitting subject, it has enough room for comedy that is factored in at the right moment, just when things start to become too dramatic. The final 15 minutes are sure to move a lot of audience as well as make them aware of a side of violent politics that many ignore.

Verdict:

Through Kotthu, director Sibi Malayil manages to capture the pain and angst of eye-for-an-eye politics. Apart from being a thought-provoking film, it is also packaged with enough tense as well as lively moments.

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