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‘Kadak Singh’ review: Pankaj Tripathi's mischief isn't enough

In ‘Kadak Singh’, a promising idea is overtaken by forced cleverness and unimaginative staging

A still from ‘Kadak Singh’

By Udita Jhunjhunwala

LAST PUBLISHED 09.12.2023  |  03:38 PM IST

AK Shrivastava (Pankaj Tripathi) is joint director at the Department of Financial Crimes in Kolkata. His young adult children have nicknamed their sole surviving parent ‘Kadak Singh’ for his harsh and unloving ways. AK is assigned a case regarding a major Ponzi scheme led by one ‘Agarwal’. During the investigation, and after a horrible showdown with his daughter Sakshi (Sanjana Sanghi), AK suffers an accident which lands him in hospital with retrograde amnesia. AK does not recall his daughter, colleagues or his girlfriend Naina (Jaya Ahsan). His personality sees a dramatic shift too.  

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Through the course of the next few days and weeks, with the assistance of his colleagues, including his boss Tyagi (Dilip Shankar), his protégé Arjun (Paresh Pahuja), and daughter Sakshi, AK starts trying to piece back the missing pieces from his memories. In this lost memories lie clues to the chit fund scamster Agarwal. Outside the confines of the hospital room, his daughter and protégé are also trying to solve the mystery of the missing millions.

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Based on a story by Viraf Sarkari, Ritesh Shah (also screenplay and dialogues) and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, and directed by Chowdhury, the screenplay takes a Rashomon-style narrative approach, moving back and forth in time. AK has to sift fact from fiction to connect the dots. He is playful when solitary with his quirky nurse Miss Kanan (Parvathy Thiruvothu), assigned for his full-time care. She is his sounding board as he tries to solve the puzzle of his accident and of the white collar crime he was investigating. Kanan is more companion than care-giver, matching Tripathi’s mischief beat for beat, as the 128 minute film plods to a conclusion.

Alongside the professional conundrum, AK also overcomes his familial issues, rebuilding relationships with his fraught children Sakshi and Aditya (Varun Buddhadev). However, the story barely scratches the surface of human relationships, of the parent-child bond that is fractured by shared, but unresolved, trauma, of finding a new love later in life. 

What the story and the production lack, the performances make up for. While Tripathi is very much in his comfort zone playing the impish patient, it’s interesting to see him perform as the stern and unyielding AK. He keeps you guessing whether he is afflicted or simply faking it. Sanghi and Ahsan bring a tenderness and sensitivity to their parts as the loving women aching for reciprocity of their affections from the cold AK. An interesting idea is overtaken by its own cleverness and unimaginative staging. There is only so much sincere performances can do to paper over the flaws and frivolity.

‘Kadak Singh’ is on ZEE5.

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