Cast: Naveen Chandra, Kishore, Pia Bajpai, Abhimanyu Singh, Nasser.
Koottam revolves around a group of Naxals who, after realising the futility of indulging in a thankless mission, give up arms and surrender. Their attempts to integrate in mainstream society, the hurdles they face, and the cops and wily politicians who take advantage of their dark past, form the rest of the story. The film is directed by debutant Jeevan, a protégé of filmmaker Ramgopal Varma.
Shatru (Kishore) and Abhi (Chandra) are the main players in the plot.
The narration cuts to the past, depicting friendship, love, bonding and a supposed betrayal. The group finds itself treated like outcasts in the prison and the members are killed in fake encounters.
Roped in by a well-meaning senior cop (Mahadevan), they are recruited by him for covert activities against the underworld.
There is also the wily politician JK (Nasser), who uses them as pawns in his games of survival.
Weaved into the plot is the love angle. Abhi kidnaps Shruti, a bigwig’s daughter (Piaa), who had scooted with the money owed to them. What follows is the predictable Stockholm Syndrome.
Kishore and Naveen fit suitably in their roles. They are a study in contrast — the former as Shatru, cool and level-headed, the latter as Abhi. hasty and hot blooded. Piaa as Shruti is vivacious, but hardly gets a role of substance.
While the film has a fairly engaging first half, the second is loosely scripted and tends to drag. The film has a Telugu flavour, probably because of the large number of Telugu actors cast in crucial roles.
Incidentally, the film is a bilingual; the Telugu version (Dalam) released last year. The screenplay in the second half slackens with dull and predictable happenings.
The group is on the run from encounter specialist Ladda (Singh with a lot of attitude and style), who had vowed to cleanse the city of criminal elements. There are a couple of romantic tracks here, an attempt at comedy, and distracting item numbers — all when the issue goes on a serious mode. Koottam had a plot with the potential to be turned into a riveting action-thriller — if only the screenplay was more coherent and focused.