The Hindi remake of Ram Kumar’s Tamil-language Ratsasan (2018) follows the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle to a fault. Cuttputlli sees the reunion of BellBottom director Ranjit M Tewari, that film’s leading man Akshay Kumar, and co-writer Aseem Arrora.
Kumar, cast in a non-heroic mould for a change, plays Arjan, an aspiring filmmaker who is unsuccessfully hawking a script about a serial killer. Arjan’s obsession with psychopaths comes handy when he joins the police force in Kausali.
Somebody is pulling schoolgirls off the streets and doing terrible things to them. Arjan’s boss Gudiya (Sargun Mehta) scoffs at his theories and all but yawns through his earnest serial killer 101. Gudiya is forced to take Arjan seriously when more bodies turn up, all of them brutalised in the same manner.
In between tailing the murderer, Arjan falls for school teacher Divya (Rakul Preet Singh). In a tightly controlled film that follows the bread crumb trail all the way through, Divya’s profession isn’t no random detail but part of a larger puzzle.
Tewari’s remake, which has been released on Disney+ Hotstar, cuts out some of Ratsasan’s flab, especially in the latter portions. If anything, Cuttputlli is even more clinical than its source material, sticking closely to the investigation without pausing to consider the consequences of the serial killer’s actions.
Some of the underplaying works against Cuttputlli, especially in the scenes that require the film to shift gears from police procedural to emotional drama. The revelation of the killer’s identity is similarly rushed through. At least unlike recent films of this type, including Forensic and HIT – The First Case, Cuttputlli has a suitably shocking monster pulling the strings.