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King of Kotha: Dulquer Salmaan comes out all guns blazing in this lengthy but gritty gangster drama

Director Abhilash Joshiy does not reinvent the wheel; however, there is enough fodder for the hardcore masses.


Prabhatha Rigobertha

August 25, 2023

Gangster films are one of the most overused genres in films across the world, whether it is Francis Coppola’s Godfather, Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan, Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya and Company among others. Debut director Abhilash Joshiy takes the familiar concept of two friends turning against each other and gives it a retro touch. At 2 hours and 55 minutes King of Kotha does test the viewers’ patience.  But what powers King of Kotha are the performances led by Dulquer Salmaan and Shabeer Kallarakkal. The film is also technically brilliant particularly the cinematography and the art direction.

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King of Kotha is set in a fictional town by the same name. The time period is 1980’s. Raju (Dulquer Salmaan) and Kannan (Shabeer Kallarakaal) are buddies/gangsters. They have a strong brotherly bond. What makes them different from other gangsters is that they wouldn’t deal with drugs. Tara (Aishwarya Lakshmi) is the love interest of Raju. Things take a drastic turn when the brotherly bond with Kannan breaks. Due to certain reasons Raju goes into exile and Kotha is no longer the same. Prasanna Kumar plays the police officer Shahul Hassan. Paradoxically he brings Raju back to set things right in the current time.

The strongest pillar of King of Kotha is easily the dynamics between Raju and Kannan. Abhilash Joshiy does a good job in exploring the friendship between these characters and also how things go sour between them. He manages to give some nice touches to this predictable angle. For example there is a scene in the second half when Raju and Kannan reminisce about their past days in a hotel room. In a particular moment Raju talks about his plans to set up a farm and grow apples in the future. This leads to a chuckle from Kannan.

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Another angle worth mentioning here is the father and son relationship between Raju and Kotha Ravi (Shammi Thilakan). They share some good emotional moments.

Director succeeds in presenting Dulquer as a mass hero. Dulquer is presented as a feared gangster in both the past and the present but at the same time he is successful in humanizing Raju. There are occasions where Raju comes across as defeated both mentally and physically.  Dulquer Salmaan once again shows his versatility with a knockout performance.

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The action sequences are raw in nature with doses of bloodshed. These sequences are not for all but still there is some thrill in seeing Dulquer delivering those punches. The background score by Jakes Bejoy is an absolute delight particularly in the scenes elevating Dulquer.

The cinematography of Nimish Ravi is another big plus for King of Kotha. He is successful in capturing the raw terrain through his lens.

Apart from Dulquer the other actor who makes a solid impression is Shabeer Kallarakal. The actor makes for a formidable opponent. In fact Dulquer shares more chemistry with Shabeer than his leading lady.

One big problem with King of Kotha is the very stretchy run time. There are passages which could have been easily chopped off. The predictable nature of things also plays a spoilsport. Some of the subplots could have been crisper.

Overall Dulquer’s performance coupled with the Visuals make this Kotha worth a visit.

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Prabhatha Rigobertha
Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.


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