January 18, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Aasmaan Bhardwaj
Hindi with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in India’s Mumbai area in October and November 2016, the action film “Kuttey” features a predominantly Indian cast of characters (with some black people and white people) representing the working-class, middle-class, wealthy and the criminal underground.
Culture Clash: Various criminals compete to rob an armored van with loads of cash, and a corrupt cop thinks he can outsmart them all.
Culture Audience: “Kuttey” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching incoherent action films that don’t look believable.
“Kuttey” wants to be a complex story about a corrupt police officer, but it tries to do too much with a silly plot that gets more ridiculous as it goes along. The movie’s film editing is also very sloppy, with repeated mishandling of flashback scenes. The back-and-forth timeline jumping just makes “Kuttey” look even more confused than it needs to be, considering that the story would already be a mess without the flashbacks.
Written and directed by Aasmaan Bhardwaj, “Kuttey” (which means “dogs” in Hindi) is essentially about some factions of criminals in the Mumbai area of India who are in a battle to steal money from an armored van that has a small fortune in cash. The story, which takes place in October and November 2016, is told in a jumbled manner, with various flashbacks showing how these criminals reached this point in trying to rob the same van. And (cliché alert) there’s someone in these gangs of thieves who thinks he’s the smartest and toughest of them all.
This self-appointed “alpha male” is Gopal Tiwari (played by Arjun Kapoor), a corrupt police officer who is married with a young daughter. Gopal wants the money so that he and his family can have a life of luxury. Gopal’s cop partner Paaji (played by Kumud Mishra), who is also in on this heist plot, wants the money so that he can pay off his debts. Gopal and Paaji work as undercover cops.
At first, Gopal and Paaji try to get money by offering to be hit men for a drug-smuggling crime lord named Narayan Khobre (played by Naseeruddin Shah), who wants them to assassinate someone in the drug-smuggling ring who’s suspected of betrayal. It’s just an excuse for the movie to have a nonsensical shootout at a pool party, where Gopal and Paaji massacre several innocent people. (Some of this scene is shown in the “Kuttey” trailer.)
Gopal and Paaji get suspended from the police force and become even more desperate for money. They have a jaded cop friend named Pammi Sandhu (played by Tabu), who introduces them to her friend Harry (played by Ashish Vidyarthi), a driver for the armored van carrying the cash. Harry foolishly tells Gopal and Paaji how much cash is in the van. And you know what that means. The trailer for “Kuttey” already reveals that Pammi ends up trying to rob the van too.
Two other people who want to rob the van are Lovely Khobre (played by Radhika Madan) and her boyfriend Danny Dandekar (played by Shardul Bhardwaj), who want to act like they’re trying to be in a “Bonnie and Clyde” movie, but they really act more like “Dumb and Dumber.” Lovely is the spoiled, loose-cannon daughter of crime lord Narayan. Danny is a dimwitted son of a builder, and he has a caste/social-class inferiority complex about it because Lovely grew up pampered and privileged. Lovely wants to run far away from her domineering father, which is why she and Danny want the money so they can move to another country, possibly Canada.
Showing up in the last third of the movie is Lakshmi Sharma (played by Konkona Sen Sharma), the leader of a guerilla gang that’s also after the money from the armored van. Lakshmi is a completely one-dimensional character who doesn’t have a single thing to say that’s interesting or memorable. The same goes for the people in her gang. Lakshmi and her gang didn’t really need to be in the movie at all.
“Kuttey” is one of those action flicks with ludicrous shootouts and other fight scenes, where the main character gets cornered and outnumbered more than once and could easily be murdered, but he always manages to escape. And it’s also one of those movies where someone looks like they died a brutal and bloody death. But surprise! That person really isn’t dead. The possible double-crosses and other treachery in “Kuttey” don’t mean much when all of the criminal characters are despicable.
Making things worse, the dialogue in “Kuttey” is relentlessly idiotic. The movie is cluttered with unnecessary scenes that stretch out the already very thin plot for “Kuttey.” The cast members’ acting look like they don’t care much because they know they’re in a stupid movie. Considering all the better heist movies that exist, “Kuttey” is just mindless mush that’s easily forgotten soon after people waste time watching it.
Yash Raj Films released “Kuttey” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on January 13, 2023.