Cuttputli review – an overly complicated Bollywood thriller

By Lori Meek
Published: September 2, 2022


Cuttputli is what happens when you mix a serial killer thriller with Bollywood romance and dancing. It’s a fun watch if a bit too slow. 

This review of the film Cuttputli is spoiler-free. 

Cuttputli is a Hindu Indian film directed by Ranjit Tewari and has Akshay Kumar, the guy who plays India’s version of James Bond, in the main role. A remake of a 2018 Tamil-language movie called Ratsasan, the main plot of the film revolves around a brand new police inspector, who also happens to be an expert on serial killers, as he, well, hunts down a serial killer. In Hindi, Cuttputli means puppet, and it’s a reference to the killer’s signature habit of leaving dolls behind after each kidnapping. 

The movie starts with two men discussing the distinct lack of crime in their city seconds before finding the brutally mutilated body of a teenager. We are then introduced to our main character, Arjan Sethi, a man with a passion for scriptwriting and serial killers. Unfortunately for Arjan, producers aren’t keen to turn his gruesome serial killer script into a movie, so he is forced to accept his brother-in-law’s offer of joining a small town’s police force. 

Cuttputli spends a lot of screen time in the introductory phase. I’m not sure we needed to see a full montage of our hero training to become a cop. As soon as he starts work, it becomes obvious he’s not comfortable in his new environment. When a supervisor asks him to beat up a suspect (as a side note, there’s a staggering amount of police brutality in this movie), Arjan befriends the guy instead.

Then there’s a cute scene where Arjan meets his teacher love interest (played by Rakul Preet Singh) by pretending to be his niece’s parent. There’s so much comedy and so many wholesome family-friendly scenes between the discovery of the first body and the kidnapping of the second victim, that I actually had to check I was still watching the right movie. 

Things do pick up a little after the second victim’s body is discovered and Arjan finally convinces his superiors there’s a serial killer on the loose. However, every time the love interest appears on screen, it feels like we’ve left crime thriller land and entered a fun romantic comedy. At times, it felt like I was watching two separate movies and I’m unsure if the wholesome scenes were appropriate in a film that also showed extreme darkness.

And when I say extreme darkness, I’m not just talking about the serial killer plot line. No, the movie managed to make it worse by introducing a terrifying math teacher (Sujith Shankar gave such a strong performance, it’s sure to give me nightmares) who spends his free time doing the unspeakable to students. And, for some unknown reason, the filmmakers included a full-on Bollywood-style music video. 

Overall, Cuttputli tries to do too many things at once. There are too many plot points, too many characters and it combines too many genres. It tells an interesting story and the actors give really strong performances. But it would have been a lot more enjoyable if they kept the focus on the main plot. 

What did you think of the film Cuttputli? Comment below.

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