Kuppathu Raja Review: A terrible, unforgivable piece of work
A problematic film masquerading as a gangster drama
Kuppathu Raja opens with a narration by Shinchan about two gangs -- one led by wastrel Rocket (GV Prakash) and the other by area big shot, MG Rajendran (Parthiban) -- who call themselves Kauravargal and Pandavargal, respectively. And this is followed by a somewhat amusing cartoonish fight sequence with Pow, Boom and Yaw comic bubbles. Just when I thought the film might turn out to be a harmless entertainer, the film slapped me with a big 'No!' and bombarded me with a glut of objectionable and cringe-worthy scenes.
Rocket starts ickily ogling his new neighbour, Mary (Poonam Bajwa), and the nine-year-old kid, who catches him red-handed, actually says: "Show partha la enaku kasu kudu!" Yes, that's how kids converse in this film. And the adults aren't any better. They spend most of their time plotting to get drunk and think it's perfectly fine for someone to sexually assault the girl they like. Rocket is on a different level altogether, incredible as that may seem. He spreads bird droppings on his face and threatens to apply the same on the faces of his neighbourhood kids, calling it talcum powder.
Director: Baba Bhaskar
Cast: GV Prakash, Parthiban, MS Bhaskar, Yogi Babu
Projecting a community in a true light is the basic responsibility of a filmmaker, especially when his film is going to be entirely centred on them. North Chennai films like Madras or Meyaadha Maan worked largely because of their memorable and true-to-life characters like Anbu and Sudarvizhi. But Kuppathu Raja fails big time in this area, and I'm afraid this might actually reinforce certain misinformed assumptions about the community.
The portrayal of women here is also nothing short of a crime. Poonam, who is actually younger than most of the cast, is called heinous names like 'Biscothu aunty' and every single shot of hers is purely voyeuristic. Rocket's love interest, Kamala, who is introduced after a long monologue about the virtues of Tamil area girls, is Mumbai-based Palak Lalwani. She sports tanned makeup and a weird eyeliner to make us buy that she's one of them. And her struggle to get into the skin of the character (pun intended) is evident.
Despite Yogi Babu being on screen throughout, not a single joke works. Calling him panni or panni moonju vaayan is not humour. Rocket is the only one who is funny, but unfortunately, it's only in the supposedly serious scenes--like the one where he accuses everyone in sight for the death of a loved one--that we laugh at him.
The only silver lining is the presence of MS Bhaskar (as Oor Nyayam) and Parthiban. They are dependable as usual, but their solid performances cannot make up for the damage that has already been done.