Review: ‘King of Kotha,’ starring Dulquer Salmaan, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Prasanna and Gokul Suresh

August 26, 2023

by Carla Hay

Dulquer Salmaan in “King of Kotha” (Photo courtesy of Zee Studios)

“King of Kotha”

Directed by Abhilash Joshiy

Malayalam with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place mostly in 1996, in the fictional city of Kotha, India, the action film “King of Kotha” has an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Two former best friends battle each other for control of a drug empire in Kotha.

Culture Audience: “King of Kotha” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and don’t mind watching messy and nonsensical movies about drug dealers.

Prasanna in “King of Kotha” (Photo courtesy of Zee Studios)

“King of Kotha” is nothing more than a semi-convoluted soap opera about feuding drug dealers. There’s nothing really original in this soulless tale that shows the expected betrayals, revenge plots, and violence. The musical numbers look very misplaced.

Directed by Abhilash Joshiy (his feature-film debut) and written by Abhilash N. Chandran, “King of Kotha” takes place in the fictional city of Kotha, India. The movie’s timeline is mostly in 1996, but there’s a significant flashback to 1986. The movie tries to do too much with a very weak story.

“King of Kotha” begins in 1996, with the arrival of circle inspector (CI) Shahul Hassan (played by Prasanna), who has been transferred to Kotha, which is a city with a major drug problem. The current drug lord of Kotha is Kannan Bhai (played by Shabeer Kallarakkal), who has been in a longtime feud with his former best friend Raju Madrassi (played Dulquer Salmaan) over control of the drug trade in Kotha. Shahual gets the backstory on this feud, which is shown in the movie as a flashback.

The feud has been going on for 10 years and involves friends, family members, and lovers. There’s also an awkward subplot about Raju and his gang being part of a soccer team called Winner Kotha. The movie has a lot of heinous violence that just becomes mindless after a while. None of the acting is good.

“King of Kotha” piles plot twist on top of plot twist, until it becomes a jumbled, unrealistic mess. To make matters worse in this bombastic film, almost all of the characters are unlikable and unrelatable. Avoid this abomination at all costs.

Zee Studios released “King of Kotha” in U.S. cinemas and in India on August 25, 2023.

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