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Kathal Is A Bang-On Satire On Casteism, Favouritism & Goondaism




Rating: *** ½

In Indian cinema, particularly in  Hindi  cinema,  genuinely funny satires are  hard to find. Kathal is  surprisingly bracing  and endearing. It is not your run-of-the-mill type of desperate-to-please smalltown quirky satire, but a thoughtfully written intelligent  piece of cinema to which every actor  gives his best shot.

Kathal celebrates  the silliness  of power-drunk politics when Vijay Raaz(as  glib and glorious as ever)  a local MLA in a small dusty rusty crusty town in North India, loses his  prized kathals from their tree. The entire police police force is deputed to find the missing fruits.

  It is all hilariously inappropriate, and Saniya  Malhotra’s cop-act as Mahima Basor, and her subtle smirk says it all.Her frown breaks into a twinkle whenever she is  next to her subordinate  Saurav (played  with  a jaunty innocence  by Anant Joshi).The ongoing  romance between  Mahima and her junior is  one  of the valued assets  of  this  comely comedy.

But this isn’t  about the laughter  of triviality being given administrative priority.  Kathal tears  through the riproaring surface  to reveal the tragic and terrifying emptiness of caste  politics .A girl disappears  from the  village.And I thought I was back in the kingdom of Dahaad  which we visited on  Prime Video just a week ago.

The same bureaucratic apathy to  the crime of   disappearing  ladies, except that here in Kathal there is no serial killer on the prowl. The remarkably risible Raghuvir Yadav shows up belatedly as the unlikely kidnapper, as we come close to  the climax of  a tale that would have ended up in  chaos in lesser hands.And Rajpal Yadav is  near-brilliant as a smalltown investigative journalism who reveals  a conscience under his scoop-hungry personality.

 Writers  Ashok Mishra  and  Yashowardhan  Mishra   and director Yashowardhan Mishra know exactly where this is heading to. Amidst the  precincts of a perky pandemonium there lurks  a grim message on caste politics. Like Sonakshi Sinha in Dahaad, Saniya Malhotra plays  a  cop  who has risen  from an unprivileged class.

The  upper caste snobs just can’t stand her power projection. There ensues  several deeply disturbing yet amusing encounters  with casteists.

Kathal is a earnest attempt to  bring forth the  double standards  of  a power-hungry  society and an an administration that  favours the privileged classes. It is  a film that  must be seen  for  its stellar  scripting and performances  and for bringing in a sense  of fun to a grave social issue without trivializing it.

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