Sitting through this tense tactile turbulent take on communal biases and polarised loyalties based on religion rather than humanity, not once did I hear the ‘H’ and ‘M’ words. The two communities are referred to as 'our people' and 'your people'.
A rather curious concession to coyness in a drama that doesn’t shy away from calling a spade a spade. And a terrorist a terrorist.
Kuruthi is not an easy film to watch. Unlike, say Anubhav Sinha’s commendable Mulk which made it easy for us to identify the Good Muslim and the Bad Muslim in a very Good Cop-Bad Cop kind of ‘thriller’ mode, Kuruthi has no easily soluble pills to offer. A cop (Murali Gopi, excellent) drags along a handcuffed prisoner who killed a man for desecrating a temple, his temple, where his father was the head priest.
The communal divide in India is massively complicated. And director Manu Warrier, stepping into this extremely volatile territory of extremism after some relatively negligible work earlier on, plunges headlong into the simmering communal cauldron. He looks at the communal divide for what it is: a mess aggravated by politicians.
At times, the plot brings in too many characters and ideas into play simultaneously crowding the plot’s eco-system unnecessarily. But the theme’s thundering power to rip open the lulling simplified communal structures that are so daintily built into our so-called politically conscious cinema, effectually demolishes all the scared crowds of “safe” filmmaking bringing out the ugly underbelly of the communal strife in the open, until the characters all stand naked in their polarised loyalties.
Specially shocking is the outburst by Srindaa (played by Sumathi) the seemingly gentle Hindu neighbour of the film’s liberal Muslim hero Ibrahim “Ibru” (Roshan Mathew who is so good he doesn’t let us feel his brilliance). She wants to marry Ibru and doesn’t mind converting. When Srindaa took off on her “our people… your people” tirade, I knew all was lost. We may look towards the Liberal Hindu and the Liberal Muslim for communal amity. But how liberal is the so-called liberal?
Kuruthi blows the lid open. The fumes that emerge are toxic and lethal. A major part of the tense tactile drama unravels in one tiny middle class home where a patriarch Moosa (the brilliant Mamukkoya) thinks Shah Rukh Khan was a liberal ruler from Mughal dynasty. I didn’t find Moosa’s ignorance to be funny. Maybe it isn’t meant to be. The characters keep barging into Moosa’s home, each communicating his and in one instance, her ideas with a virulent contempt for ideological soundness.
The film occasionally looks stagy, perhaps deliberately so. At one point, a man rushes into the venue of the action as if he was waiting for his cue from behind the camera. I still don’t know who he was. The visitor who is given the most rousing welcome is Prithvi Raj who plays the extremist with a ceaseless smirk, as if Laiq (that’s the character’s name) knows something we don’t.
Ironically, Prithvi Raj’s Laiq is the most uni-dimensional character in Kuruthi. A red-hot personification of extremist evil with no room for reform. All the other characters undergo severe ideological changes before the night is over.
Kuruthi is a very tough film to slot. It is a helpless, hopeless, piercing cry for peace in a world that has no patience or appetite for rational thought any longer. It is a film filled and fuelled by pain. It pleads and bleeds for tolerance and acceptance between the two communities(hamare log aur unke log). But I know it’s a losing battle.
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