Kuruthi Movie Review: A gripping home invasion thriller designed as a critique on religious bigotry

Updated on Aug 11, 2021 05:41 PM IST  |  400.8K
   
Kuruthi Movie Review
Kuruthi Movie Review: A gripping home invasion thriller designed as a critique on religious bigotry
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Title: Kuruthi

Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Roshan Mathew, Mamukkoya and Srindaa.

Director: Manu Warrier 

Rating: 3.5/5

Review by: Arjun Menon

The evolving landscape of regional cinema has been getting more and more love with each passing release on the major streaming services during the pandemic .The binary of religious bigotry in our country has escalated to alarming rates in the last few years and the leftover simmering rage will invariably find its way to the content that we consume. Kuruthi is the latest addition to the string of Malayalam movies taken up by Amazon Prime, headlined by the poster boy of mainstream experimental narratives, Prithviraj Sukumaran.

Kuruthi is brooding tale of vengeance and grit told through the ingenious conceit of the often-underused sub-genre of the home invasion thriller. The film starts off with the almost nonexistent life of Ibrahim (Roshan Mathew) a grieving widower who is traumatized beyond saving by the death of his wife and only child to a major landslide that recked havoc in their settlement, almost a year ago. He makes a living out of rubber tapping and lives with his father and younger brother. The major players of the narrative are introduced within the first ten minutes starting off with  sympathetic  neighbor Suma( Srindaa) another victim of the landslide, loosing her loved ones to be left alone with her elder brother , who drowns himself in alcohol to turn down the memories of his dead wife.

Suma and Ibrahim clearly have a history of unrequited feelings that he never acknowledges, often hiding behind his religious beliefs and tragic loss, when she confronts him with her feelings. Ibrahim’s brother Ramees ( Naslen K Gafoor ) is unhappy with the way the Muslim communities are treated in the country and carries a deep sense of resentment against politics of hate and lynching. Ramees is guided in his frustrated rantings by his local mentor like figure Saadath (Shine Tom Chacko) who rallies the young folks with his radical ideologies and concept of free world. The film kicks into high gear when a bleeding police officer on the run from an unknown threat, resorts to stay back in Ibrahim’s home one night awaiting the backup police unit to register the capture of Benny ( Saajan Surya) a  young man charged with a hate crime , who is being chased down by a radical group.

Kuruthi is structured as a tightly knit thriller that unfolds within the confines of a house where the duality of religious fundamentalism and hatred take shelter for a seemingly never-ending evening of gore and fanatic revelations. The events escalate with the entry of Laiq (Prithviraj Sukumaran), as the mysterious figure who barges into Ibrahim’s house on that very night to find Benny accompanying his friend Saadath. Prithviraj adopts a very peculiar mannerism for the part to evoke the eeriness and Kuruthi literally becomes a manhunt from that point of time. Prithviraj gets a definite monologue at the beginning involving a neo nazi french artist whom he had met years ago in Paris,  honestly the actor sells the conviction of Laiq with that single scene. The director Manu Warrier resorts to good old-fashioned filmmaking with the use of dual focus shots , extreme close ups of tense faces and spilt diopter lenses to stress on the building sense of dread within the limited setting and extracts tension with fiery exchanges between the characters trapped in their own living hell.

Prithviraj deserves to be lauded for his conviction in sticking his neck out by investing in such a risky project that supposedly deals with delicate themes. The actor looks menacing on screen for the entire runtime and ends up being the irrevocable force of threat that directly headbutts with an immovable object of faith, a rather fair one liner of the movie revealed by the actor in his recent interviews. Prithviraj is the connective tissue that binds this film together and lends major gravitas to a part the could have ended up being a mere caricature in the hands of a lesser actor. Roshan Mathew is effective as the confused yet firm force that holds its own in a movie filled with refreshing performances. Srindhaa who serves as the only female character too gets some interesting moments. The rest of the supporting cast makes the excess in dialogue more grounded and lend more lived in feel to the predicament that the characters finds themselves.

We get cheeky one liners from Moosa (Mamukkoya) the character acts as the moral compass of the film that accepts human being for what they are and not for their belief systems. Some of the best lines in the screenplay are tossed around by Moosa more like afterthought’s that provide the comic relief in between all the chest thumping talks of nationalism and religious supremacy between the other characters caught in the hell hole. The smartness of the writing lies in the juxtaposition of the bigotry and bias in religious fanatism within the beats of a traditional thriller template. Some of the dialogues do come across as a little to wordy and hollow, however the ever-changing shifts in the power dynamics between the major players gives the characters an identity despite the occasional preaching and lip service.

Kuruthi is a product of the highly polarising times that we live in, devoid of any shred of subtlety in its intentions and narrative ambition. The film is loud in its critique towards the ever-growing hate propagated on minorities and the fringe groups by the so-called privileged majority. The writing is superficial and aims for the broad strokes in its commentary of the testing times the country is going through right now and uses some of the innate biases to drive home the takeaway of the two-hour novelty exercise. Prithviraj might have some serious social media uproar coming his way in the coming weeks for the politics that the movie upholds and going by recent trends, the movie is bound to start a insipid online debate, which may or may not outlive its potential intentions. 

 

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