Cuttputlli movie cast: Akshay Kumar, Rakul Preet Singh, Sujith Shankar, Chandrachur Singh, Sargun Mehta, Gurpreet Ghuggi, Harshita Bhatt, Joshua LeClair
Cuttputlli movie director: Ranjit M Tewari
Cuttputlli movie rating: 1 star

In Parwanoo, a small town in Himachal Pradesh, a teenage schoolgirl’s horribly mutilated body is found on a bench. Soon after, a girl in the same age group goes missing in neighbouring Kasauli. Two days later, her similarly brutalised remains turn up under a bridge. There’s a serial killer on the loose, declares newbie cop Arjan Sethi (Akshay Kumar); he should know, given that he had been working on a film about serial killers that never got made, before he joined the police.

You wonder if ‘Cuttputlli’ (what’s with the spelling?), a remake of Tamil film ‘Ratsasan’, should have met with a similar fate. Because literally nothing about this thriller which lacks thrills, works the way it should. Giving us close-ups, without a proper build-up, of a bloody face, is a deliberate shocker. Who could be behind this cruel snuffing of a young life, the damage done while the victim was alive to maximise pain?

But within minutes, the fear and the tension is gone. The film becomes a mix of tired family drama-and-romance, and clunky cop procedural: instead of edge-of-the-seat suspense, we get tedium.

Sample this: a school-teacher (Sujith Shankar) who preys upon his wards, does it in full view of the rest of the class. There’s no skulking in dark corners. The classroom becomes the site of the molestation, while school is on. Huh? What kind of an institution is this, where a teacher is left alone to his terrible devices? Why don’t the rest of the girls complain to the authorities? Which cat has got their tongue?

Watch the Cuttputlli trailer here:

As to the official investigation, it seems like no one in the bunch has heard of ‘MO’ (modus operandi) till our hero speaks about it. A series of bodies with the exact same facial wounds, and similar signature — a box with the head of a creepy plastic doll — elicits zero interest till way too late into the proceedings. There are a couple of forgettable songs because, of course, Bollywood will never learn. A tough senior female cop (Sargun Mehta) is so free with her hands when she slaps suspects that she makes her male colleagues look like sissies.

And Akshay, as usual, looks much older than his heroine — the perky Rakul Preet Singh shows up periodically but has nothing much to do; she deserved a better film.

The spot-the-killer strand had the potential to make this a gripping whodunit. And for once, we see the stakes being raised, which is a rarity in mainstream cinema. A murder occurs close to Arjan and his family, sister (Harshita Bhatt, seen after a long gap) and brother-in-law (Chandrachur Singh), both wasted by the feeble plot, but nothing is made of it. Worst of all, the discovery-and-nabbing of the killer is got through in the most perfunctory way possible. It’s almost as if the film can’t wait for its own end.

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