'Khakee', starring Karthi, Abhimanyu Singh and Rakul Preet Singh in key roles, hits the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Dheeraj (Karthi), a sharp-witted and intrepid cop, is known for cracking cases sooner than later.
But when one particularly complicated and long-running case challenges him, Dheeraj has to go out of his way. In robbing people of gold, a gang of dacoities has been committing brutal murders in Tamil Nadu. Their bloody mission started in 1995, but even ten years later, they are at large.
Dheeraj takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery of the elusive gang, state by state, step by step. Methodically.
Most of the film is about how he mounts a terrific and intelligent war against the dacoits (led by Abhimanyu Singh), who themselves come with a shocking history of their own.
All along, his wife (Rakul Preet Singh) is his only emotional strength.
Most of the cop dramas descend into unrealism at the first opportunity. A few of them manage to keep the proceedings intact by keeping it as real as possible. This year, we have seen 'D-16' carving a niche for itself. 'Khakee' actually goes a step further in telling its story through breathtakingly detailed investigation scenes.
But for two action sequences (in the second half) that are cinematic, it's hard to come by a scene that is an exercise in escapism.
Whenever Dheeraj is seen in the 'khakee' dress, be assured that there is no moment of lag. Right from the way he makes it known that he means business to how he speaks to his seniors, everything is narrated with a sense of urgency.
The proceedings mirror reality so much that director H Vinoth doesn't shy away from showing one arm (read police department) of the state getting a rap on the knuckles or being probed by other arms (read the court, the Human Rights Commission).
And no matter how much you might want to see your hero shout like a Sai Kumar out of frustration, you won't find such a scene. Try searching for one with magnifying glasses if you can.
In most crime thrillers, hard-fought battles are not as consistent as they are in 'Khakee'. Dheeraj is always at it. Each scene neatly merges into the next scene, sometimes enabled by the hero's narration.
By and by, the practical difficulties that cops encounter are given a glimpse into. When Dheeraj and his team are camping in Rajasthan, they are broke, they are on their own, and every single day, they face the prospect of being snuffed out.
The challenges faced by TN police just to find out what is already there in the UP police records in an era when e-Governance didn't touch the police department prominently is enough to sensitize us.
'Khakee' also scores with respect to the history of its villains. Hardened criminals who have successfully been on the run for a decade despite not having a nexus with politicians, bureaucrats and/or the industry. That's the uniqueness of Abhimanyu and his gang.
Karthi delivers one of his career-best performances as Dheeraj. He comes across as a valiant as well as a vulnerable cop at once. The last scene where a somewhat aged Dheeraj looks seemingly lost but nevertheless intent on doing his duty is superb. Abhimanyu is not as frightening as his brutalities. Rakul Preet Singh is cuddly-cute as a dullard faking it as a studious girl, and lovely as a naughty wife who wants to be pampered. Bose Venkat as the actor who plays Karthi's trusted lieutenant is another asset.
Ghibran's 'Kallibolli' number and the BGM are interesting. Sathyan Sooryan's cinematography and Shivanandeeswaran's editing make the visuals quite pleasing.
A credible cop drama that refuses to be an escapist fare. The slice-of-life investigation scenes are stirring. Every fan of true-blue crime-thrillers will want to watch it.