How About Notflix goes to Bollywood.
I haven’t watched a great Indian film since back when How About Notflix was still a podcast and my two co-hosts didn’t quit in protest from watching bad movies, and it’s not out of lack of choice. In fact I regularly recommend the international market for those looking for good movies that are disappointed by modern Hollywood crap. If you’re looking for great horror movies with good actors and well made plots, you’ll want to check out Korean cinema. But if you want a film that takes you back to the past, check out Bollywood. The Indian film market over the last couple of decades has exploded both in size and budget, and what we got out of it is just art in motion.
Present Bollywood is what you would get if western filmmakers of the 1980s had the kind of budget and technology you’d see in the mid 2000’s. If you want films showing off buff dudes, beautiful women, practical costumes, and juvenile humor involving a dude sucking his own dick, well the Indian market probably has something for you.
Kaatteri is a 2022 movie that bills itself as a comedy horror, and when it comes to this genre I have a lot of respect for directors who dare to tread such a minefield. Comedy horror is like cooking with oil and vinegar, you have to be careful to keep the ingredients from breaking. Also in comedy horror movies the horror tends to take a backseat, meaning if the comedy is bad then the movie just sucks on ice. For good examples of comedy horror I would point to Freaky, The Dead Don’t Die, Babysitter (and its sequel), and One Cut of the Dead. For shitty comedy horror I could point to a million films, but I’ll mention Yoga Hosers, Warm Bodies, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunter, and probably Cooties. Sorry Elijah Wood.
But director Deekay did a fantastic job putting together a comedy horror that is roughly 80% comedy and 20% horror. The film stars Vaibhav as Kiran and Sonam Bajwa and his wife, Shwetha. The couple are roped into a crazy scheme involving a three man gang including Gajja (Karunakaran), Kaliyurunda (Ravi Mariya), and Sankar (Kutty Gopi) who kidnap a doctor Kamini (Aathmika) in order to bring her to their boss who plans to hold her for a ransom from her father. One thing happens to another and the group kidnaps her back to get the ransom for themselves, leading them on a chase into what appears to be the haunted village of Kolaatipuram where everyone died several decades prior. The village is haunted by a spirit named Mathamma played by Varalaxmi Sarathkumar.
Kaatteri is one of those films where you see the punchlines coming from a mile away and it doesn’t hurt the film at all. As I said earlier it feels like something our Hollywood would be putting out in the early 2000s, but it never feels stale watching it in Indian movies. Maybe it’s because the actors and actresses are so damn charming. For instance there’s a point where a character is hit with a poisoned dart, and one of the comedy relief characters Sankar has to suck out the poison because, as per the movie logic, he’s the only person who can do it thanks to his buck teeth. And then it happens again and you wonder if the director is really gearing up to shoot someone in the dick. And then it happens. In another scene Shwetha has a long scene coming out of the lake in her bathing suit and the movie shows the guys ogling her. And then Ravi Mariya makes the exact same appearance, and of course he’s fat and hairy.
All of the main actresses in this film are stunningly gorgeous of course, seeing as almost all of them are models in addition to starring in various films. I’d also like to point out that a lot of work was put into making some good looking sets as well. The haunted house that the group ends up in toward the end is great, and while the CG isn’t too good in spots the practical effects and makeup put on the actors fits the tone of the movie just fine. There is a rather extensive flashback in the third act that sets up the story for the villain of the film.
All of the characters in Kaatteri are great, although the cast may be just a little too big for its own good with overlapping characters that fulfill the same purpose as goofy slapstick comedy. There are some shockingly well planned set ups and payoffs throughout the film, and of course this is an Indian film so you do get the obligatory non sequitur transitions into musical numbers scattered throughout. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Ravi Mariya’s glorious wig that might be something Kat Williams would wear in a black comedy spoof.
Overall I’d say Kaatteri is a film worth watching, although at nearly two hours it is stuffed with a lot of filler. Oh and the horror part, as I’ve said before, is barely in the film. But a noble effort on director Deekay.