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Crime drama lost in blood and gore

King of Kotha2023★★☆☆☆2.5/5Director:Abhilash JoshyCast:Dulquer Salmaan, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Prasanna

This much awaited Malayalam gangster crime drama starts off exceptionally but goes downhill after the interval. The directorial debut of Abhilash Joshy pulls down Dulquer’s rising stardom.

Set in 1996, Shahul Hassan (Prasanna) is transferred to Kotha, a town filled with crime and drug abuse. He meets Kannan ‘bhai’, the dreadful gangster ruling Kotha, who humiliates and threatens him. Shahul, on the verge of revenge, learns about the town’s past.

The film focuses on Raju, the former kingpin of Kotha, and he is a character tailor-made for Dulquer Salmaan. He delivers a compelling performance. All is well until he emerges as an invincible, clever gangster capable of killing people with just a pen or a pencil: assassin Raju Madarassi. The narrative then loses its way, and ends up with an exhausting excess of blood and gore.

Just when you prepare yourself to witness another foray into the past, revealing how Raju turned into Raju Madarassi, you have it narrated through a phone call to Kannan. Phew!

Some parts of the film are intelligently written while most are shabby and just dandy. The film offers quirky characters whose presence you miss once they are gone. The narrative could have focused more on them. One such character is Suitcase Leslie (Soubin Shahir), an assassin who packs body parts of the person he murders in a suitcase to confirm the murder.

Chemban Vinod Jose’s character as Ranjith is the souvenir you take home. He lightens up grim dangerous situations with his English one-liners that make even the most feared thug smile. He has a backstory to his English fascination.

The dialogues are poorly written—they either dilute the narrative or make you cringe. In a scene when Raju is expressing his love to Tara (Aishwarya Lekshmi), he says she looks like the sparkle on a dagger after its blood stains are washed off. Poetry in the world of crime sounds like this?

The town square has a display of advertisements from the ’90s, bringing out a wave of nostalgia as people are massacred in the background. Don’t miss the standee of Rajinikanth as auto driver Manikam in the 1995 film ‘Baashha’. And catch this film only if you are a diehard DQ fan.

(Published 25 August 2023, 23:51 IST)

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