ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

‘Kill’ Review: Lakshya & Raghav Juyal’s Film Is as Innovative as It Is Violent

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

Updated
Movie Reviews
6 min read
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

For a majority of Indian cinema, violence has always been something to get through to get to the ‘real story’ – more often than not, the hero must fight, mostly unnamed, enemies to save his love interest. Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s Kill turns this premise on its head – here, the romance is something that gets used as a setup for the brutal, constant, and unrelenting violence to begin.

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

Lakshya in a still from Kill.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Kill has been the talk-of-the-town for being something Indian cinema has ‘never done before’ and in many ways, that’s true. Not every film requires a linear plot or excessive dialogues – all a film needs to work is a conviction in what it is trying to portray. And in Kill, that is violence and the makers have no qualms about trusting that idea completely.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

This movie, that could just as easily be called ‘Do Commando Aur Chaalis Chor’, takes place primarily on a long-distance train bound for Delhi. Army commando Captain Amrit (Lakshya) and his trusted right-hand man Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan) board the train to surprise Amrit’s bride-to-be Tulika (Tanya Maniktala).

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

Tanya Maniktala in a still from Kill.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

This seemingly light-hearted premise flies off the rails when we discover that this train is the target of an organised bandit attack, led by the theatrical Fani (Raghav Juyal). As the heist goes haywire, everyone has something to prove and someone to save. The film wastes no time in jumping into action, after which there is little to no breathing space for the audience and I mean that in the best way possible. Kill is not a film you can breathe in, it’s meant to be experienced with one jolt after another.

The movie’s name itself contains multitudes – it’s obvious why it’s called ‘Kill’ but it also forms the basics of what separates Amrit and Fani. While Fani attacks to kill, Amrit doesn’t but as the minutes roll by, this morality starts to crumble – a safety mission turns into acts of vengeance.

The film has very little dialogue which doesn’t leave a lot for the actors to fall back on – for the most part they need to rely on pure physical acting. Perhaps that is truer for Lakshya whose transformation might seem sudden on paper but is measured and deliberate in his body language. And then there is Juyal as Fani. Fani starts off as the typical Bollywood baddie but with every decision, every dialogue that is enunciated just right, Juyal transforms Fani into something bigger, something more political.

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

Raghav Juyal in a still from Kill.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

If the actors don’t have much to fall back on, neither does the technical team. Shooting in cramped spaces is a challenge on its own but to shoot fast-paced action where people are thrown between seats and skulls are smashed on whim is a whole other matter. Cinematographer Rafey Mehmood, Mayur Sharma’s set design, and action choreographers Se-Yeong Oh and Parvez Shaikh clearly understood that there was no scope for error.

These confined spaces expand and contract almost at will and yet, never in a way where the audience spots a misstep. Kill is a technical feat on its own.

The way the setting is utilised is even better – consider the sequence where Amrit goes through luggage to find anything that might make a good weapon or the way in which an inconspicuous suitcase becomes a weapon in the right (or very wrong) hands.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Since we’re on the topic of technicality, it would be unfair to not appreciate the foley work. Foley has, for the longest time, been one of my favourite behind-the-camera art forms. To make celery sticks sound like bone on screen almost feels like magic. The foley work in Kill is absolutely, breathtakingly perfect – even if you look away, you can easily predict what is happening on screen. And you might want to look away if you’re not a fan of gore. However, if you are someone who usually watches cinema with gore present, this won’t be too much for you – think The Boys.

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

Lakshya in a still from Kill.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Even the lighting team deserves a shout out. In a moving train, the way light moves and what it illuminates can be tough to predict but if it doesn’t move the way it must, it becomes obvious. This is a tricky line to walk especially since some characters use the cover darkness provides to make their moves. However, you don’t miss a single beat even in the dark.

My personal views on violence aside, if Kill had held back on any of its scenes; it wouldn’t be the movie it is today. That being said, there is one kill (that acts as a catalyst for someone) that feels too stretched-out perhaps to eke out the emotional stakes behind it. It goes on for a second too long.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Most action films tend to focus on the protagonist and his motivations but Kill gives ample space to the ‘antagonists’ as well. The action in Kill isn’t gratuitous like violence in Bollywood often is – everyone is acting with a reason. It’s obvious that the stakes for the ‘hero’ are personal but the film also makes the dacoits a family. The film is punctuated with the feeling of grief and loss – even the mightiest stop to grieve the loss of a loved one.

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

A still from Kill.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

This single detail makes the film stand out – it is clearly relishing in the brutality but it doesn’t forget to center the price of such violence. These are human lives that are lost and this weight is conveyed by those left behind to mourn the loss. While never justifying their actions, the movie slightly humanises the dacoits.

“How will the families of our fallen feed themselves?” Fani asks his father, almost in a matter-of-fact tone. This highlights an important aspect of the film’s beating heart – the class rage. The film is not interested in presenting the dacoits are mere villains who are on a killing spree – it intends to make you think about their circumstance.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

At one point, Fani finds his potential hostages and remarks of his “acche din”. When he speaks of Amrit, he says the ‘rakshak’ has become a ‘raakshas’; it would’ve been just as easy to say ‘bhakshak’ and move on but the similarity between the two words highlights how thin the line between the two has been in the film.

'Kill', directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, is ruthlessly, unrelentingly violent 'cinema'.

Lakshya in a still from Kill.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Morality in Kill is never black-and-white – in fact, one of Amrit’s transformation’s defining features is the way he is gradually stripped of his morality. Repetition would have been Kill’s Kryptonite – for an audience that has been oversaturated with the over-the-top, gratuitous violence, the film’s savagery could have become tiresome.

But Kill is as innovative as it is violent.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More
×
×