Jackfruit and funny flavours : The Tribune India

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Jackfruit and funny flavours

Jackfruit and funny flavours

The film moves slowly, allowing viewers to savour the dark comedy.

Film: Kathal

Director: Yashowardhan Mishra

Cast: Sanya Malhotra, Anant V Joshi, Vijay Raaz, Rajpal Yadav, Neha Saraf

Parbina Rashid

Two 15-kg jackfruits go missing from the Moba MLA’s house. And mind you, these are no ordinary kathals, these belong to the prestigious Uncle Hong’s variety from Malaysia. And these are destined to play a significant role in furthering the political career of our ‘victim’ MLA (Vijay Raaz). For, ‘Jo kaam unche vichaar se nahi hota, woh achaar se hota hai (The work that can’t be done with principles is done with pickle)!’ You get the tenor!

So, when some deranged mind plucks the prized kathals before these could be pickled and presented to the wife of the man who matters, all hell breaks loose. The police spring into action. Never mind the police-public ratio that stands roughly at 153 personnel per lakh population in this country. The case eventually lands at Inspector Mahima Basor’s (Sanya Malhotra) feet, the smartest and the most diligent Moba cop.

What follows is a laugh riot. As the plot meanders from investigating an absurd crime to finding a missing girl, the film has all the ingredients to keep the viewers engaged. Subtle humour and cracking one-liners are the high points.

Malhotra blends in the milieu as Inspector Mahima, lending the fictional small town of Moba a touch of authenticity. She is ably supported by Neha Sharaf, a cop who barely manages to juggle her career and home and Anant V Joshi as Mahima’s upper-caste boyfriend, who is a constable. Rajpal Yadav, who plays a journalist from Moba Samachar, is a delight to watch even though he tries his best to look appalling by wearing a hideous wig. This small-town scribe aka ‘aapka chota bhai Anuj from Moba Samachar’ would go to any length to get subscribers, but his demeanour makes it easy to forgive him.

The kidnappers, too, are endearing. Nobody is painted black here. As one of them explains to the feisty girl in captivity, “We were doing a legitimate business but then Covid happened and we got into kidnapping.” Well, how is that for a justification?

Caste angle, women empowerment, crime, corruption and media circus, all seep into the narrative. Director Yashowardhan Mishra manages to keep the tone subtle and consistent, and refrains from being preachy. He is in no rush to take his narrative forward, and allows the viewers to savour the dark comedy. He, however, goes overboard in the climax scene where vegetables become ammo in the hands of the miscreants and it becomes a free-for-all match! Also, the police-politician nexus is barely scratched at the surface level and fails to make an impact.

The film leaves the viewers in a good mood. After all, there is plenty to cheer for — a woman cop, a woman judge and a pink Nano!