‘Kathal’ is a comedy-mystery film that takes on similar themes as the recently released ‘Dahaad,’ but adds humor and pop to the mix. For those seeking socially conscious cop dramas with a female lead, ‘Dahaad’ is a recommended watch. However, ‘Kathal’ offers a refreshing alternative with its blend of mystery, humor, and social commentary.
Kathal movie review : story line.
The story kicks off when Moba MLA Munnalal Pateria (Vijay Raaz) discovers that two prized Malaysian jackfruits, weighing 15 kilos each, have been stolen from his front yard. Mahima Basor (Sanya Malhotra), the investigating officer, finds herself both puzzled and shocked by the incident. She believes this is not a significant case worth pursuing. Nevertheless, it becomes her responsibility to recover the stolen jackfruits, with the assistance of constables Kunti (Neha Saraf) and Saurabh (Anant Vijay Joshi), who also happens to be her boyfriend.
The stolen jackfruits act as a MacGuffin in the film. As Mahima delves deeper into the investigation, a more pressing crime emerges. From this point on, the film adopts a serio-comic tone that carries through until the end. The humor is derived from Rajpav Yadav’s portrayal of a local journalist with a partially bald crown, reminiscent of the Japanese chonmage hairstyle without the knot. However, the film does not shy away from exploring the underlying issues of gender and caste. Mahima’s life mirrors that of Sonakshi Sinha’s character in ‘Dahaad’—both are women from backward castes who have risen through the ranks but still face sexism and subtle prejudices prevalent in society.
‘Kathal’ is produced by Guneet Monga Kapoor, whose Sikhya Entertainment also backed ‘Pagglait,’ another light-hearted, gender-sensitive dark comedy featuring Sanya Malhotra. The influence of TVF (The Viral Fever) is also evident, with director Yashowardhan Mishra incorporating the visual style seen in popular TVF shows, and actors Raghubir Yadav and Ranjan Raj making cameo appearances. The art design and cinematography are vibrant and eye-catching, emphasizing pops of pink and orange throughout. The film culminates in a vegetable fight during the final stand-off. While the ideas presented may not be groundbreaking, they are engaging enough to keep impatient viewers entertained.
‘Kathal’ displays a keen understanding of its small-town setting and its interaction with modernity. Mahima solves the case by examining CCTV footage and images shared via WhatsApp. Brijendra Kala portrays a suit-wearing forensic expert, highlighting the prevalence of digitization. However, technology and Western influences are also depicted as corrupting forces. When Mahima searches for a missing girl, she is informed that the girl used to wear ‘ripped jeans,’ which is considered an incriminating detail. Conversely, a cop seeking an upper-caste groom for his daughter proudly shows pictures of her in Western attire on his phone.
Sanya Malhotra delivers a perfect performance as Mahima, effortlessly transitioning between a sweet-faced demeanor and moments of exasperation. The film, with its easy-breezy tone, doesn’t provide her with much of a challenge, but she shines in her scenes with Joshi, portraying a power dynamic rarely explored in Hindi film couples. Despite being a lowly constable, Saurabh struggles to shed his caste privilege, prompting Mahima to admonish him for mistreating the less fortunate while also waiting for his promotion to marry her. Their lively interaction adds a spark to the film.
As a movie centered around the search for missing jackfruits, ‘Kathal’ features characters who often express dissatisfaction with their jobs. The portly superintendent remarks with a sigh, “We go by the IPC—Indian Political Code.” Rajpal Yadav’s character, Anuj, a reporter skilled at sniffing out fake news, refers to journalism as a “thankless job.” However, when Mahima comes to arrest him, he is seen beaming with joy. Accused of ‘anti-national’ activities, he is thrilled knowing the story will gain international attention. Years of grassroots reporting have taught him how such stories resonate in the broader media landscape. His ‘Moba Samaachaar’ is about to make headlines worldwide.