Yashowardhan Mishra’s ‘Kathal’, on Netflix, is  a gently amusing detective story-cum-social commentary that involves missing jackfruits 

Posted on May 22, 2023


Spoilers ahead…

Not all jokes hit the mark, but if you catch the film’s vibe, there’s enough foolishness for a pleasant – if unremarkable – couple of hours. 


Can you make comedy from “serious social issues” like caste discrimination and patriarchy? Vignesh Shivan proved that you could. In his delightful episode in the Tamil anthology Paava Kadhaigal, he mined black comedy from the serious social issue of honour-killing. The film’s absurd tone mirrored the absurdity of people who think nothing of murdering their children whose only “crime” was to marry someone from a lower caste. In Kathal, Yashowardhan Mishra takes a similar approach. This is not black comedy, exactly, but the absurdness of the events on screen perfectly fits the absurdity of, say, a senior cop at a press conference who cannot recall if the number of rapes committed by the accused is 17 or 70. “Let’s just say there’s some ambiguity,” he declares. I laughed out loud. Sometimes, the best way to show a mirror to the incompetence and injustice around us is to let go of outrage and embrace your inner clown, like the truth-spewing vidushak from Sanskrit drama. That’s what Kathal does.

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