World-building and character arcs are what make gangster films compelling for the viewers. Every gangster movie that has stayed with the viewer is a success mainly because it uses the story to register that world and the numerous characters. King of Kotha, Abhilash Joshiy’s debut directorial, written by Abhilash N Chandran, has a world of characters, and they are clear about the equation between them. But sadly, the world-building process is not happening enticingly, thus making the movie look peripherally stylish and content-wise generic.
The story happens in this imaginary city named Kotha, which has a history of being ruled by goons. A new CI, Shahul Hassan, takes charge in Kotha, and he realizes that Kannan Bhai is the most dreaded goon there who used to be a close friend of Raju. In King of Kotha, we see the past and present of Kotha Raju and the reasons that made him the villain of Kannan’s life.
The first thing that sort of lets you down from the beginning itself is the dialogue. The punch that was supposed to be in the conversations is not really there, and you are just hoping they will get that mass movie momentum soon. But the writing by Abhilash Chandran is hitting those familiar beats without any dramatic shades that are fascinating. I am not saying it is a terrible idea, even on paper. The friendship between Kannan and Raju, the backstory of Manju, etc., actually had the spark to make it a character-driven tale that will stay with you in the long run. But for some reason, Abhilash Joshiy focuses on making it a star vehicle, and this KGF meets John Wick treatment style never really blends well.
Dulquer Salmaan succeeds in pulling off the two shades of the same character neatly. As the younger version, he is angry and impulsive, and in the second half, where he will remind you of Alexander, the guy shows the composure of someone calm yet deadly. Shabeer Kallarakkal as Kannan Bhai was an impressive casting choice, and since Kannan and Raju had this peculiar bond, I think the freshness of Shabeer’s face works in favor of the movie. Aishwarya Lekshmi, as Tara, was struggling with the dialogue as it already lacked juice.
Prasanna, as CI Shahul, was a little too animated, making his character less crooked for the audience. Gokul Suresh, as Tony, has a pretty extensive role, and I liked the flow of his performance. Shammi Thilakan, as Kotha Ravi, shows his experience within the limited number of scenes he had. Nyla Usha’s character actually had the scope to be a character that controls the whole thing, but sadly, that aspect wasn’t really explored. Chemban Vinod Jose as the English-speaking Ranjith Bhai was hilarious.
The movie has a runtime of 174 minutes, and yet I am saying that it could not do the world-building convincingly. The inclination of the content toward worshipping the hero makes it look very one-dimensional. Writing makes things more convenient for the hero than putting him in complicated situations. I can’t remember precisely, but some of the punch dialogues and harsh dialogues actually had this unintentionally funny or odd feeling. Nimish Ravi follows a color palette that occasionally will remind you of the visual aesthetic he followed in Kurup. The editing is a bit chaotic, especially in fight sequences, making it less charming. The background score by Jakes Bejoy is terrific and original. And it plays a crucial role in elevating a lot of dull scenes.
My hopes around King of Kotha on a craft level weren’t that high after seeing the promos, and hence, I wouldn’t say it was a massive letdown for me. King of Kotha is not a lazy gangster film that was created to make the most of its hero’s popularity. But it needed refined writing with nuances to establish the equations between the numerous characters in that story.
It needed refined writing with nuances to establish the equations between the numerous characters in that story.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended