tv & movies

Don’t Waste Your Onam On King Of Kotha

Dulquer may be good looking, but how long can you watch him with a cigarette in his mouth, giving that deadpan expression, wonders Divya Nair.

Blame it on the unusual success of KGF, but there is a growing wave of unoriginal South cinema.

The super success of the Kannada drama has inspired a slew of Malayalam films with wafer thin scripts that rely heavily on action and violence.

The desire to deliver a pan-India blockbuster is clearly evident in Dulquer Salmaan’s latest theatrical King of Kotha.

Directed by debutante Abhilash Joshiy, the veteran film-maker Joshiy’s son, KOK narrates the story of friendship, love and betrayal against the backdrop of an imaginary town Kotha where criminals battle it out to establish their supremacy.

In the 1980s, childhood friends Raju (Dulquer) and Kannan Bhai (Shabeer Kallarakkal, remember Dancing Rose from Sarpatta Parambarai?) rule Kotha with their illegal activities, simply because the janta love them.

Raju is the poster boy of Kotha — disowned by his parents, adored by his younger sister, plays football, drinks, smokes, dances, fights like a man and lives by the moment.

Enter Tara (Aishwarya Lekshmi), who runs a library and stands up against the drugs mafia.

Raju falls madly in love with her and draws a boundary in his line of business — no drugs — thus standing in the way of Ranjith (Chemban Vinod), a druglord with comic timing.

Obviously, Raju’s love comes with a cost and Kotha has to pay the price of it.

Like you would guess, Raju and Kannan are pitted against each other.

A distraught Raju, betrayed by his love and best friend, chooses to leave Kotha for good.

Kannan takes advantage of the situation and sets up an empire, until years later, he provokes the city’s new cop Shahul (Prasanna) who devises a plan to bring the boys face-to-face.

The thing is, you’ve watched the best scenes already in the trailer.

What you don’t see is how colourful Ranjith’s character is.

Dressed in a fancy printed shirt, attempting to show off his poor English skills, while displaying a rare insight into his clever mind and logical understanding of situations, he’s clearly the most interesting character in the film.

It’s a pity the writers thought they could create a bigger, more interesting villain because that’s where the film begins to suffer.

The best moments and characters are exposed in the first half itself, so much that the second half seems like a waste of time.

Dulquer is anything but a poor copy of a wannabe anti-hero, heavily inspired by the pressure of his peers. He tries hard to balance his emotions, while delivering action and mouthing dialogues that deserve a lot more spice and novelty.

Dulquer may be good looking, but how long can you watch him with a cigarette in his mouth, giving that deadpan expression?

Even actors like Vijay, Ajit and Suriya can salvage the lack of script with their dancing and dialogues, but Dulquer struggles to match up.

Having said that, what makes you tolerate the mediocrity and predictability of the script is the screenplay and the camera tricks that tease your senses.

Similarly, the set designs and choice of costumes, makeup and hairstyle play a significant role in recreating the ’80s in an imaginary Kotha.

In the slow-motion action sequences, do watch out for the recreated ad banners and posters in the background. The Rotomac pen gets a special mention too.

It’s also delightful to watch a bunch of fit-looking actors onscreen, something Malayalam cinema has been missing for years, whether it is them playing football or simply punching each other.

Shabeer is a promising talent that needed a better character arc. So are many other actors who are underutilised in this mass drama.

The climax hints at a possible sequel, where perhaps, we hope Nyla Usha gets a meatier role because girl, she makes for a stunning villain.

Do not waste your Onam on this mediocre drama because you would rather watch it on a smaller screen at home few weeks later.


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