With its debatable politics, Kuruthi is an interesting take on communal violence!
Kuruthi starts like your typical Malayalam film. Unhurried in its pace, we get to see the daily routine of Ibrahim aka Ibru (Roshan Mathew), his family and his neighbourhood. Having seen the trailer, you wait eagerly for the action to begin but the purpose of these early twenty minutes or so isn't merely to establish the milieu but almost every little detail that is established here, fits in the bigger picture. Even the genre of the movie which is primarily a home invasion thriller takes another dimension here. The 'home' is probably intended to be read as the 'country' and whose home it is becomes the bone of contention.
There is a lot to like in Kuruthi. Set mostly inside a house with a handful of characters, Kuruthi remains engrossing for the most part. The cinematography is top notch. A lot happens in the dark or in dim lighting and this is captured skillfully. There is the mystery of the night but despite the darkness, the action on screen is quite accessible. The music plays its part too, maintaining the balance between eeriness and also giving the feel of a stylized action thriller. The performances are solid. Roshan Mathew as the calm Ibru, Prithviraj as the maniacal Laiq, Murali Gopi as the dignified inspector and Srindaa as the wavering Suma play their parts well. But it is Mamukkoya as Moosa who gets the whistle worthy moments and lines and the actor is terrific.
The quality of filmmaking in Kuruthi might be indisputable but the politics could be up for a debate. The film doesn't necessarily take sides and in fact it makes a point about how religious fights might have nothing to do with ideologies and is just one other reason for mankind to wage the 'Us' vs 'Them' battle. For most of the movie, the balance does seem appreciable. Looking at it one way, the movie does seem to get it right. It is like we are just onlookers and are witnessing the battle between bloodthirsty people on either sides. But then there are few issues as well. While the film does show that similar people exist on both sides (Vishnu and Rasool are like mirror images), the crucial part of the film deals with the 'good guy' vs the 'bad guy' belonging to one community. This puts the onus on one side. Also the murder committed by someone from one side isn't shown on screen and there is repeated stress on how it could have been accidental or a 'spur of the moment' mistake. Whereas for retaliation, the other side is shown as planning out a murder. I am not sure on how this could have been handled differently or if this was intentional but it would be interesting to see the different takes on how the film has handled the topic. The characterisation of Moosa is the most interesting aspect of Kuruthi and his 'punch' dialogues are probably what the film wants to convey. There is this belief that the youngsters are more accommodative and unmindful of differences but over here it is the old man who says all the right things. He wants his son to get married to a girl from a different faith. The youngsters are thinking about afterlife and killing each other in the name of religion but at one point when Ibru asks Moosa to bury him next to his daughter, the man replies "Once you are dead you rot. Where you are buried makes no difference". In another instance, when a character refers the name of a king from history to justify his current violent actions, Moosa mistakes the name for the neighbourhood barber. When corrected, he remarks why should it matter now. What matters is the present. For Moosa, things are very simple. The people he sees and interacts with daily are whom he cares for and who really matter. His barber is more relevant to him than someone who is said to have lived centuries ago. I am sure we are going to be seeing a lot of 'Be like Moosa' memes!
Was the hanging bridge in the film a metaphor for religion? A tool which was supposedly built to bring people together and live in harmony, becoming the very source of conflict.
Kuruthi is an engrossing film that has a lot of things to say. Confined within a home, it speaks about a universal problem. The craft on display may be indisputable but its politics should be up for debate.