A bait-and-switch you never really mind

A bait-and-switch you never really mind

Koyelaanchal
Hindi (A) ¬¬¬
Director: Asshu Trikha
Cast: Vinod Khanna, Suniel Shetty, Vipinno


Director Asshu Trikha seems to have changed the spelling of his name more times than the genre of films he makes.

However, his style has evolved, his storytelling abilities have become more polished, and a host of other aspects of his filmmaking have improved, culminating in Koyelanchal being a film that goes straight for the jugular, only to back off at the right moment and target your heartstrings and tear-ducts instead.

That’s the bait-and-switch mentioned earlier, but you never regret or condemn it too much, thanks to Trikha’s ability to choose people for roles that seem tailor-made for them

This is especially true for Vipinno, whose character rarely needs to emote in the film, and his hard features and gravelly voice help him slide easily into the role of Karua.

But a little of the story first.

As the opening narrative explains, the film is about the Bihar-Jharkhand region where coal is mined, but little of the operations and profits ever involves the government.

The “coal mafia” is controlled by Suryabhan Singh (Vinod Khanna), who lays claim to everything and everyone in the region.

And he swears by his honour, going so far as to not even identifying his son’s body, so that nobody can say someone dared kill his son.

At the forefront of his defence and aggression, not just from “the government mafia” but vocal Leftist revolutionaries and armed Maoist cadre too, is Karua (Vipinno), who worships Singh enough to drink the water his feet is washed with.

Enter an honest deputy collector (Suniel Shetty) who takes on Singh, setting up what seems like a clash that would outdo the mind-numbing violence in the first half.

But just as you prepare for more of the wham-bang stuff, Trikha switches into the human-story mode in the second half, eliciting some good acting from Vipinno while keeping the narrative just a little taut in the intervening scenes.

The characters are fleshed out well, but bar Vipinno, no actor stands out.

The lack of songs throughout most of Koyelaanchal do wonders for its mood and tone. And Trikha’s need-to-know style of dispensing information keeps the audience interested.

In the end, the climax seems somewhat contrived, the epilogue a little rushed, and Karua’s transformed persona too smooth.

Yet, the audience leaves with a sense of all-is-well, having experienced a film that feels a little more rooted-to-earth than the usual stuff these days.

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