If you think cinema from India is fair RRRlevel chaos, it’s time to delve even deeper into the country’s cinematic production. There are no overturned animal caravans or bridge jumps on Netflix Kathal – A Jackfruit Puzzle. That’s not to say this police investigation chapter isn’t packed with wacky antics in its own way, though.
The essentials: The title of cathal refers to two magnificent, large jackfruits disappearing from a politician’s garden in India. It’s less that What of this crime for the dandy politician and more How This bothers him, so he tasks the police with finding that bounty before it’s due, and they assign the task to Inspector Basor, fresh off a big crime trap. She may be the lone voice of sanity in a world gone mad, where corrupt elites and clueless detectives send her in search of a warped target.
But the deeper she delves into the case, the more she realizes the potential for grave injustice at play when her colleague and partner, Saurabh, tries to frame the crime on a gardener whose daughter has disappeared. (It doesn’t help that he’s also seeking fame to regain the upper hand in his relationship, in which his family portrays him as having been emasculated by a lower-caste woman.) Basor must decide if they work within the system and wants to face a tainted outcome…or bend the rules and become no better than everyone else in her own mind to achieve results. The election sends them on a wild chase that provides a true x-ray of Indian society.
What movies will it remind you of?: hot fuzz, The nice boyseven shades of The Pink Panther or The naked gun …essentially any film that doesn’t shy away from making a little fun at the expense of awkward, self-aware law enforcement.
Notable performance: As a tireless basor, Sanya Malhotra is the glue that holds cathal together. She’s the most down-to-earth element in a movie where everyone gets to play wacky cartoons, and it’s up to her to tie the events to some semblance of reality. It is consistent due to the tonal fluctuations.
Memorable dialogue: As the film’s central crime comes to light, one of Basor’s deputies remarks, “Thieves don’t have standards these days.” She replies, “It’s not like police standards are great either.” It’s a great illustration of the central ones concern inside cathal, since there is no false equation between police officers and criminals. Instead, it’s an opportunity to examine the grays at a time when moral relativism and distorted priorities are running amok.
gender and skin: Aside from a slight allusion in which he compares the bulging jackfruit to some other dangling gems, nothing. But that moment might escape even an uncritical second screening viewer…or maybe it’s just that reviewer’s thoughts in the gutter.
Our opinion: Director and co-writer Yashowardhan Mishra finds a globally resonant chord in her local tune. cathal will resonate with anyone who feels that law enforcement’s role in protecting public safety has been redirected to serve the needs of the political elite’s pet enthusiasts. Basor and her team’s chance encounters with the wider world around them make for great comedy, but then they reveal something darker about human nature that is far from funny. Take Saurabh, for example, waving to a man who is looking for his missing daughter… so he can look for jackfruit. Sometimes in these silly moments we can see the serious problems of society all the more clearly. While cathal While the comedy struggles with tonal balance in its final act, it gives way to a more ordinary police detective story, and every twist of fate is always intriguing.
Our appeal: STREAM IT! Kathal – A Jackfruit Puzzle is just like its title dish: subtle, sweet, and a bit larger than life. While it can seem a little overpowered at times, the overall nutritional value of consuming it is undeniable. This is a satire that touches and satisfies in every country.
Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. Besides Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, The Playlist and many other media. One day everyone will realize how right they are Spring breakers.
Regard Kathal – A joyful mystery on Netflix