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‘Cuttputlli’ is among the worst of Akshay Kumar’s career, which takes some doing

Cuttputlli, loosely based on Soviet serial killer Anatoly Slivko, is a lesson in what not to do with a crime drama.

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This may come as a massive shock given Akshay Kumar’s career trajectory in the past decade, but his latest Disney+ Hotstar release Cuttputlli did have enough elements to be a good murder mystery film. It is a remake of the 2018 Tamil film Ratsasan and loosely based on Soviet serial killer Anatoly Slivko.

Directed by Ranjit Tewari and written by Aseem Arrora, the central case featuring the targeting of schoolgirls by a depraved serial killer is appropriately disturbing. Moreover, there are some genuinely interesting twists and turns, peppered with shocking, emotional moments and some decent detective work.

But, of course, it can’t seem to evade many of the same Akshay indulgences that have defined the actor’s recent output. From the unfunny jokes to the largely one-note dialogue delivery, and the ignominy of an awkward 54-year-old trying to court a woman half his age, you’ve seen this charade before.

Except this time, Cuttputlli tells you from the get-go that Akshay Kumar’s character, true-crime-obsessive-turned-Himachal Police-sub-inspector Arjan Sethi, is actually 36 years old, which now makes it totally acceptable to cast a significantly younger actor like Rakul Preet Singh to play his love interest, school teacher Divya.


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Awkward romance and absurd Akshay

Given how quickly the initial premise of the hunt for a serial killer is dispensed with in favour of the same old pro-police commentary, Cuttputlli appears less as a detective-led mystery and more as a cheap ego boost for its ageing star. This is summed up by the very first Arjan-Divya scene, where Divya labels Arjan as “too young to be a father” in what might be the worst attempt at breaking the fourth wall in Bollywood history.

The chemistry between Akshay and Rakul Preet is non-existent, so it only exacerbates matters when the film literally comes to a standstill at the halfway point with a song-and-dance sequence. It is shoehorned, unnecessary and poorly choreographed, ironically akin to what Akshay’s own comedy films used to parody in the 2000s.  But the ridiculous romance subplot is just one of Cuttputlli’s many failings, some of which are rooted in the flawed story structure, thin character-writing and cliched thematic depictions.

We are initially hoodwinked into believing that there’s some critique of torture and police brutality when sub-inspector Arjan’s methodical, nonviolent approach leads to more answers than Kasauli Police SHO Gudia Parmar.

But as Arjan’s involvement in the case increases, most of his own acts of violence and brutality are shrugged off as determined or heroic, because God forbid any Akshay Kumar character be portrayed as even morally grey.

In general, most of the police station scenes and interactions require far more suspension of disbelief than what this gritty narrative needed. While the case itself is compelling, Cuttputlli goes completely off the rails in the second half because it makes the same grave missteps that even several productions far superior to this film have. As such, the prime suspect with a realistic, harrowing motive and a long list of sexual abuse victims is cast aside as a red herring. This would be acceptable if the real culprit was equally as menacing and convincing, instead, we get a thoroughly contrived motive with the film’s climax suddenly going from methodical mystery to Harry Potter-esque fan fiction.


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What not to do with a film

Amid this dumpster fire of a script and wasted hilly setting, character actor Sujith Shanker is the only one who comes out of Cuttputlli with his acting prowess intact as he masterfully disappears into the role of math teacher Purushottam Tomar.

If I were Joshua LeClair, on the other hand, I’d fire my agent, expunge any evidence of this film from my resume and never work in Bollywood again because of that dubbing job.

When the dust settles and the credits roll (the film literally ends right after the killer is dealt with, aftermath be damned), Cuttputlli reflects the continued freefall of Akshay Kumar’s creative decisions.

Since it’s on Hotstar though, maybe just turn it on briefly to laugh at how every clue or potentially important plot point is endlessly marked with what sounds like a poor recreation of Inception’s Time song.

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This may come as a massive shock given Akshay Kumar’s career trajectory in the past decade, but his latest Disney+ Hotstar release Cuttputlli did have enough elements to be a good murder mystery film. It is a remake of the 2018 Tamil film Ratsasan...‘Cuttputlli’ is among the worst of Akshay Kumar's career, which takes some doing