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Kuttram 23 Review: Activism Done Wrong


What do you write about a movie in which dinner-table conversations are largely about a couple who hasn’t had a child? Not the kind of nice, helpful commentary, mind. Kuttram 23 makes this a normal occurrence, and weaves an unkind picture out of it. It opens with a shot of a family at breakfast. Two women serve the men at the table; one of them – presumably the matriarch of the family – harbours a grouse. Her son and daughter-in-law haven’t had a baby, yet. She makes some pointed remarks; daughter-in-law exits in tears, the son blithely continues to shovel more idli into his mouth.

Arun Vijay as Vetrimaaran is a stylish cop, muscle and sinew straining against his well-tailored shirt. And as cop-heroes go, he has a wee moustache. He’s investigating a series of murders; the victims are all pregnant women. He also meets a girl (Mahima Nambiar as Thendral) during the course of his work. She’s quite perfect in every way; teaches at a play school, is great with kids, helps with his investigations, and even spurns his advances. That’s the cue a Tamil hero needs. Her father is irate; he objects. Who will marry my daughter, he questions, if she’s constantly pursued by the police for investigations? Vetrimaaran has his opening right there. I will, he says. Theatre erupts in applause. Girl coyly bats an eyelid at him, and that’s that.

Kuttram 23 wants to be a lot of things. It wants to be a fast-paced cop-thriller, it wants to be a medical drama, and one of those teary ‘family-entertainers’. It also wants to be the one with the most psychotic psycho killers. And at the heart of it, it wants Arun Vijay; as the playful brother-in-law, the righteous cop, the one-man army who floors a bunch of thugs – and also, as the muscly, sinewy alpha-male police-officer who betrays a romantic vein. It would have worked, and it almost does – who wouldn’t want to sit through a movie, laugh, cry, get entertained, walk out, and never think about it again? Kuttram 23 has that lovely attribute. Only, it wants to do some activism as well. Ill-informed activism. It has Arun Vijay rendering a sermon about treating a woman right, but it also has him hitting Thendral over a perceived slight. It calls out fertility clinics for preying on childless couples, but it also normalises, and reinforces the societal ridicule and pressure that a childless woman experiences. And that’s where the trouble begins.


The Kuttram 23 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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