Picture this, you spend a month trying to get a reservation at the new restaurant in town and order your favourite dish. After all that, the dish doesn't live up to the hype and you find yourself missing the comfort of the instant noodles you left at home. That's what Aasmaan Bhardwaj's Kuttey feels like.
Kuttey has been directed by Aasmaan, who is also credited for the story and screenplay.
I tried to not compare Kuttey to Vishal Bhardwaj's cinema and I succeeded for the most part except for one glaring factor. While Vishal's cinema is an example of how one makes cinema while thinking of women, Kuttey is an instance of a film made without much thought for women.
The ghosts of Priyanka Chopra in Kaminey, Konkana Sensharma in Omkara, and Tabu in Maqbool will perhaps haunt any viewing of Kuttey.
The characters of a senior cop (Tabu), a Naxal Lakshmi (Konkana Sensharma), and a powerful man's feisty daughter Lovely (Radhika Madan) are written well at first glance but the way women are seen throughout the film is the male-gaze at its performative finest.
Director of Photography Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi gives every scene the framing it deserves, creating the gorgeous Maharashtra noir atmosphere we’d earlier seen in Kaminey, but in his own unique way.
The music and background score, courtesy Vishal Bhardwaj is perhaps one of the best parts of the film, especially when paired with Gulzar’s lyrics.
Coming to the genre it rests in, Kuttey has a firm grasp on narrative style but there's not a lot of substance supporting it. The first half drags and relies too heavily on a fabulous cast. The second half of the film is still more entertaining and funny.
Naseeruddin Shah commands the room like no other. Despite the cards they're dealt, the women leave an indelible mark on the screen.
Konkana Sensharma's righteous fury and well-earned confidence is impossible to look away from and Tabu's version of twisted maternal instincts and expletive-heavy drive are integral to the film's plot.
Radhika Madan shines in her role and deserved much more screen time. With everyone mentioned above, there's Gopal (Arjun Kapoor) and his partner Paaji (Kumud Mishra) and Lovely's boyfriend played by Shardul Bhardwaj.
All of them (if I'm not missing anyone) form the "kuttey" in question, sitting on the thin line between the adages 'kuttey vafaadar hote hain' (dogs are loyal) and it's a 'dog eat dog world'.
Kuttey feels like it's too long for a feature film and has little grasp on the 'point' which ironically translates to there is no point. The use of silhouettes against a red background seems almost artistic but fails because it refuses to rely on the delicious art of subtext.
The film is, at the end of the day, still all about bullets, gore, and glory, tapping into Tarantino-esque shooting sequences. But for a film that impressed with its trailer, the complete experience is a letdown with immense (ignored) potential for success.
(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.)