In a scene from Anurag Kashyap’s Kennedy, a man violently threatens the owner of a betting business inside his cabin. The owner is petrified and begs for his life. Over here, the POV is much outside the transparent cabin and in the area where the owner’s staff sits. So we see the staff terrified in the foreground but with their backs to the camera and the scene happening in the background. Normally, one would show close ups of the owner and the man inside the cabin in such a moment while intercutting it with visuals of the terrified staff. But not here.
This and various other moments ensure that Kennedy turns out to be an enjoyable affair.
Kennedy centers around a former cop named Uday Shetty (Rahul Bhat). He was once an integral part of the Mumbai Police but was infamous for his ruthless methods. His enmity with a gangster brought out a deeply tragic turn in his life. Circumstances ensure that Uday is presumed dead. He has the helping hand of the corrupt Police Commissioner (Mohit Takalkar).
Uday, with time, becomes more ruthless and commits various serious crimes at the behest of the commissioner as he starts a new life with the name ‘Kennedy US’. He is once given an unusual task by the commissioner. Things don’t go according to the plan and this gives way to some serious repercussions in Maharashtra.
COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most sought after topics in various movies and web shows of recent years. The lockdown had a serious impact on the people and this gave way to various stories of people affected by it. Kennedy is also based during the pandemic but the story explored here is not about the sufferings of the people but about a serious political drama that took in the state.
Kennedy quite boldly takes inspiration from the aforementioned political controversy and presents real incidents that happened back then in a subtle but obvious manner. Those who are aware of the events that took place back then would not only find it interesting but, at times, also funny, especially through the kind of humor Kashyap is known for.
But Kennedy is not all about the real politics of the state. The film only takes inspiration from an incident and weaves a fictional tale around it with Kennedy being the epicenter of all the activities. The film is very much his personal saga.
Amidst this, there comes a moment where the film drags a bit. It probably should have ended before reaching 144 minutes. But a bigger minus here is the main protagonist not even coming in radar of the authorities even after committing a series of heinous crimes.
As one would expect from a crime drama by Kashyap, the technicalities like cinematography by Sylvester Fonseca and background score by Raghav Bhatia and Aamir Aziz turn out to be the highlight. The latter could have been used lesser on a couple of occasions. The color grading also aptly suits the subject here. The everyday scenes of Mumbai at night appear different on this occasion,
Rahul Bhat most of the times just speaks through his expressions, especially his eyes. He also meets the character requirement in the latter part and increases his range as an actor. Sunny Leone, strangely, doesn’t have much to do and it is questionable to see her appear so prominently in the promotional material of the film. But she does display some positive confidence here.
Mohit Takalkar, as the police commissioner, leaves behind a terrific impact. For the unversed, he is a prominent editor in Marathi films and also has two credits as a director in The Bright Day and the recent one Medium Spicy. Megha Burman is more than noticeable through a dedicated act. Abhilash Thapliyal is thoroughly impressive.
Overall: Kennedy is not one of Anurag Kashyap’s best but it’s certainly a well-made and daring dark crime drama inspired from a real incident.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Producers: Good Bad Films and Zee Studios
Writer: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Rahul Bhat, Mohit Takalkar, Sunny Leone, Megha Burman, Abhilash Thapliyal
Kennedy was screened at the 27th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (aka BIFAN) 2023 at Bucheon, South Korea