Dhananjaya Shines Amidst a Stretched Plot in ‘Kotee’

Dhananjaya’s titular character in Parameshwar Gundkal’s directorial debut, “Kotee,” transports audiences back to a more nostalgic era. In this film, Kotee’s love for vintage ice candy over contemporary ice cream flavors, and his mother’s (Tara) preference for retro Kannada music played on a tape recorder, underscore the simplicity and sanctity of a bygone time. Kotee’s innocent but resolute belief in the possibility of becoming wealthy without resorting to dishonesty forms the heart of the narrative.

Set in the fictional Janatha City, Kotee, a cab driver who also manages a packers and movers business, is portrayed as a man who lives within his means and cherishes close family ties. The truck he uses for his business is lent to him by Dinoo Savkkar (Ramesh Indira), the city’s most formidable goon, creating an inherent tension in Kotee’s straightforward life. The character of Kotee centers around his commitments to his two siblings and his mother, a trope commonly seen in family dramas. However, Dhananjaya’s nuanced performance breathes fresh life into this familiar setup, keeping the audience emotionally invested.

Kotee’s unwavering honesty becomes a compelling character trait; he remains steadfast in his integrity despite the numerous enticing opportunities to earn quick money illicitly. Dhananjaya’s portrayal is subdued yet powerful, underscoring his significant aptitude for interpreting middle-class hero roles with clarity and conviction.

Despite Dhananjaya’s remarkable portrayal of Kotee, the film itself struggles to maintain momentum. The plot takes a considerable amount of time to unfold, often leaving viewers restless. The narrative is overwhelmed by a multitude of characters, including a kleptomaniac female lead, a corrupt police officer, a notorious gangster, an avaricious catering company owner, and Kotee’s ailing mother. Their respective subplots frequently interrupt the flow of the main storyline, making it challenging to grasp the film’s core message.

Director Parameshwar Gundkal, who brings extensive experience from the television industry to his cinematic debut, uses a highly colorful and melodramatic soap opera style.

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. This approach is particularly evident in the film’s extensive flashback sequences involving Kotee’s father, which aim to justify the protagonist’s motivations but feel somewhat dated given current filmmaking trends. As modern storytelling eschews elaborate backstories, this element of the film appears superfluous.

Running almost three hours long, “Kotee” suffers from an overly extended runtime, with several scenes lacking dynamic energy. The family drama often feels routine and predictable, despite Dhananjaya’s magnetic presence. The protracted exploration of mother-son sentiments sometimes leans too heavily on the melodramatic, resembling a TV serial rather than a compelling film narrative.

The screenplay’s sluggish pace is further marred by predictable plot points, such as the easily foreseeable outcome of the heroine’s marriage. Long sequences attempting to establish Kotee’s sincerity wind up feeling redundant and stall the film’s progress. As a result, the primary conflict that drives the story emerges quite late, leaving audiences in a state of suspension. Viewers find themselves torn between admiration for Dhananjaya’s performance and the struggle to remain engaged with a plot that over-promises a climactic payoff yet falls short of delivering it.

Ultimately, while “Kotee” holds promise through its lead actor’s stellar performance and nostalgic nods to simpler times, the film’s disjointed narrative, extended runtime, and excessive sidetracking weaken its overall impact. The endeavor seems caught between aspiring to be heartfelt family drama and falling into the trappings of a stretched soap opera. Nevertheless, for those willing to wade through its meandering plotlines, the earnestness of Dhananjaya’s portrayal might offer a redeeming payoff.

“Kotee” is currently screening in theatres, offering viewers a chance to judge for themselves how the timeless themes of family and integrity play out against a sprawling, albeit uneven, cinematic canvas.

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