Cuttputlli (2022): The Puppetry Of Murder

The fate of puppets is to never learn. They are dangling on the end of strings. What if, the general public becomes mere spectators to a psycho serial killer? Their fate will be sealed like that of puppets as the serial killer will then manipulate them!

Based on the Tamil language psychological slasher film titled “Ratsasan”, director Ranjit Tewari along with producer Jackky Bhagnani present a psychological crime-thriller titled “Cuttputlli”, which means “Puppet”. Starring the “Khiladi” of Bollywood Akshay Kumar, Cuttputlli premiered on Disney Plus Hotstar on September 2, 2022.

The Title Track: Introducing Akshay Kumar As Sub-Inspector Arjan Sethi

Cuttputlli (2022) Synopsis:

Featuring Akshay Kumar as Sub-Inspector of Police Arjan Sethi

Gruesome murders of teenage girls plague the hill station of Kasauli. Every time a girl gets kidnapped, her mutilated corpse tightly wrapped in plastic sheets is found along with a Cinderella doll’s head with the same kind of mutilations.

Arjan Sethi (Akshay Kumar) is an aspiring filmmaker who is eager on contacting various established filmmakers to have his story converted into a film. But all in vain! He gets rejected every time and finally with the help of his brother-in-law Narinder Singh (Chandrachur Singh), joins the police force in Kasauli.

Rakul Preet Singh as school teacher Divya Bakshi in Cuttputlli

Arjan stayed with his brother-in-law and his family in Kasauli. His brother-in-law was also a police officer. As the murders of teenage school girls plagued the town, the police were in constant search of the serial killer. Things took a turn for the worse when Niranjan’s daughter and Arjan’s niece, Payal got kidnapped and brutally murdered. Arjan used to love Payal very much, and her murder provided a boost to him in tracking down and destroying the serial killer once and for all! His only clues to track down the killer were the mysterious blue van in which the girls were kidnapped, and a piano tune played by the killer.

Spoiler – The serial killer in this story is a progeria patient named Christopher Fernandez (Joshua LeClair) who used to dress up like his deceased old mother Agnes, and perform magic shows at various schools. He used to target a particular school girl each time; his next victim!

Cuttputlli (2022) Official Trailer:

How To Track Down The Serial Killer? This Time It’s Akshay Kumar…Not As Rowdy Rathore Or Sooryavanshi…But As Sub-Inspector Arjan Sethi!

The Good:

What A Thrilling Story!

Perhaps one of the best movies I have ever seen! A murder mystery that will leave you engrossed till the end. Cuttputlli has a unique story that will leave you thrilled, horrified as well as emotional; all at the same time. The incident showcasing Payal’s brutal murder where her dead body was discovered by Arjan and Narinder inside the boot space of their car was emotionally devastating. The cute little Payal who was the apple of her maternal uncle Arjan’s eye was suddenly no more! Two days later after Payal’s kidnapping, Arjan saw a piece of plastic sticking out of the boot space of their family car and when he opened the boot, he found Payal’s mutilated corpse. The murderer had packed her dead body tightly in plastic sheets, and left it inside her family’s car!

Akshay Kumar and Rakul Preet Singh in a romantic track from Cuttputlli

Her parents were dejected after her murder. Her mother Seema (Hrishita Bhatt) was completely broken. So her father Narinder decided to take his wife out somewhere where she would be able to overcome the grief of the loss of her daughter. Before leaving, Seema held her brother Arjan’s hand and said, “So many teenage girls have been murdered. Now our Payal is one among them. Make sure no murder takes place ever from now on”.

The Character Development Was Marvelous!

The murder-mystery-based screenplay of Cuttputlli by Aseem Arora was amazing coupled with astounding character development. The best part about the screenplay is that it didn’t introduce all the characters at once but gradually as the story proceeded. The villain Christopher Fernandez (played by Joshua LeClair) who was the actual psychopathic serial killer made his entry much later where he was disguised as his deceased mother Agnes Fernandez.

Renaye Tejani as Payal Singh in Cuttputlli

An interesting part of the story is that Akshay here is no ordinary cop. He was in fact an aspiring filmmaker who used to write movie scripts. However, all his stories got rejected by filmmakers and with the help of his brother-in-law Narinder, he joined the police force. After joining the police force, he cleverly tracked down the psychopath serial killer using his crime-mystery story formulating skills. He was a fiction writer, and he used his intellect to educate his fellow cops about the apt method to track down and locate the murderer. He was more like a detective than a cop.

Sargun Mehta as police station head, Gudia Parmar in Cuttputlli

One of the characters in the movie surprised me. Trust me; he was a truly disgusting creature. He was Payal’s maths teacher, Purushottam Tomar (Sujith Shanker). Purushottam was a pedophile. Whenever any girl in his class used to score low grades in math, he would hold back that particular girl after the school got over and force her into fellatio as punishment. The shocking scene came when Payal failed in maths. She was just about to forcefully perform fellatio on his private parts when her uncle Arjan barged into the classroom and grabbed hold of him. He beat the hell out of Purushottam and destroyed his private part by violent kicks. Following this, Arjan addressed him as a murder suspect. Evidence of murder was found at Purushottam’s home based on which Arjan and his brother-in-law Niranjan initially thought that he was the one who was actually committing the psychopathic murders of teenage girls in the town.

Chandrachur Singh (Right) as Arjan’s brother-in-law, police officer Narinder Singh in Cuttputlli

Rocking Performances

I must say, Akshay Kumar, the daring “Khiladi” of Bollywood has rocked the show in Cuttputlli despite his age. At 55, Akshay looks strikingly fit and has well fitted in the role of a 25-year-old dude! He and his co-star Rakul Preet Singh share great on-screen chemistry and despite the huge age difference between the two, they appeared quite convincing together.

But the sad truth is that even if you maintain your body and looks while you are aging, you cannot hide your face! Your face will surely highlight your true age. So in spite of Akshay’s marvelous performance, I feel that he could have looked even more convincing in his role if the makeup artists would have considered covering the sagging skin and wrinkles on his aging face. Then he would have appeared as a real 25-year-old guy. This is just what I personally feel. No offense!

Sargun Mehta as the headstrong police station head, Gudia Parmar appeared irritating but she carried out her role immaculately. Gudia Parmar was not ready to listen to any of Arjan’s advice regarding how to track down the serial killer. Had she listened to him before, the serial killer could have been tracked down much earlier and Arjan’s niece Payal would not have been kidnapped and murdered. After the loss of Payal, she shed her ego and decided to accompany Arjan in his quest of locating the serial killer. She was a mother as well and had a young daughter at home. She feared for her daughter’s safety.

Sujith Shanker as Payal’s pedophilic maths teacher, Purushottam Tomar in Cuttputlli

Joshua LeClair deserves a standing ovation. He has carried out the roles of Christopher Fernandez and his old mother Agnes Fernandez impressively. He indeed had to go through a lot of makeovers to look like the progeria patient Christopher as well as his odd-looking old mother Agnes.

Rakul Preet Singh in a still from Cuttputlli

Chandrachur Singh is a few years younger than Akshay but here he plays his elder brother-in-law! I must say, looks do matter! Akshay, as he has maintained a slim and trim physique, has been portrayed to be much younger than Chandrachur Singh in this movie. However, Chandrachur Singh and Hrishita Bhatt did live up to their characters of Payal’s parents. Child actress Renaye Tejani as Payal Singh appeared cute and loving, and she was indeed the apple of her uncle Arjan’s eye. When she was brutally murdered, Arjan roared out, tracked, and killed the serial killer Christopher Fernandez once and for all. Justice is done on spot, not behind bars!

Beautiful Landscapes Of Kasauli

The entire filmmaking of Cuttputlli was at the majestic hill station of Kasauli. I have personally visited the hill station, and I must agree to the fact that the landscapes there are breathtaking. The beautiful mountain scenery and landscapes coupled with the retro-style buildings made Cuttputlli’s cinematography by Rajeev Ravi strikingly awesome.

A still from Cuttputlli: The mutilated head of a Cinderella doll

Immaculate Editing

You know what keeps the audiences engrossed throughout a film? It’s how well the scenes have been edited and placed so that the story is understandable even by those who don’t have the habit of watching movies very often! And this is what made Cuttputlli irresistible from the viewpoint of the audience. The immaculate scene placement and editing performed by Chandan Arora kept the story flowing smoothly throughout the film.

Behind The Scenes: What The Actors Have To Say About Working With Akshay Kumar in Cuttputlli

The Bad:

A Copied Dialogue Which Raised Controversy!

A scene in Cuttputlli shows Arjan and Payal’s teacher Divya having a conversation about “respecting teachers”. Here Arjan jokingly educates his niece Payal who was sitting with them about the true place of a teacher in a student’s life. He jokingly tells her that “The first one in your life must be God, then your parents, then your siblings, then relatives, then friends, then neighbors, and finally your teacher!”

Joshua LeClair as progeria patient Christopher Fernandez in Cuttputlli

At this Divya got agitated and shouted at Arjan, “Thank God you don’t have a dog. Else you would have listed it before the teacher!” This was a really funny scene as Arjan was just trying to pull Divya’s leg to gain her attention as he had started liking her.

However, Divya’s “dog” dialogue in the movie aroused a lot of controversy as this dialogue in fact has been copied from the YouTube video of the famous Indian YouTuber BB Ki Vines (Bhuvan Bam). Thankfully, Bhuvan Bam took this sportingly and didn’t sue the filmmakers for copyright issues.

Joshua LeClair’s Unconvincing Makeup As “Agnes Fernandez”

Joshua LeClair plays a progeria patient named Christopher who was bullied when he was in school because of his condition. He loved a girl named Sofia (Suhani Sethi) at school but she humiliated him because of his horrid looks when he confessed his love to her. It was his mother Agnes who helped him take revenge on Sofia. With Agnes’ help, Christopher brutally murdered Sofia. Agnes took the blame for the murder entirely upon her and thus, saved her son from prison.

Joshua LeClair (Left) as Agnes Fernandez and Suhani Sethi (Right) as Sofia in Cuttputlli

After Agnes passed away, Christopher dressed up like her and started committing murders of teenage girls in town because he considered all teenage girls to be similar to his school friend Sofia who had humiliated him as a teenager.

Even if Joshua LeClair gave a stand-up performance in Cuttputlli, I didn’t find his makeup as his mother “Agnes” to be convincing enough. I mean there was no actress who played Agnes throughout the movie. It was Joshua LeClair all by himself. In whatever sequences he played Agnes, he didn’t appear convincing enough as an old lady. Upon seeing the old lady’s robust chiseled masculine face and big hairy arms, you will also probably agree with me. Anyone would make out that this is no old lady but a man disguised as one!

The Verdict:

The story of Cuttputlli has certain instances which will thrill you, and horrify you as well. For instance, when a teenage girl got kidnapped, a mutilated doll’s head was left behind by the killer. After a few days, the corpse of the kidnapped girl would be found tightly wrapped up in plastic sheets, and the same kind of mutilations would be found on the corpse. It was gruesome! Cut marks all over the face, hair pulled out, one eye was taken out; I must tell you that if you are weak-hearted, you would never dare to look at the corpses.

On The Sets: Akshay Kumar (Left) and Rakul Preet Singh (Center) with Chandrachur Singh (Right)

There are literally no action scenes in Cuttputlli. This is a murder mystery where cop Arjan Sethi and his team have a major role to play in tracking down Christopher. However, the ending scene makes up for all that lost action! As Arjan tracked down Christopher in his hideout while he was preparing to murder another girl he had kidnapped, what would you expect the ending to be like? You got that right! It is Akshay Kumar versus Joshua LeClair, a violent one-on-one fight!

LeClair as Christopher removed his makeup of Agnes and challenged Akshay, “Let’s see what you got!” LeClair was fast as lightning during the fight and proved too heavy on the aging Akshay. The climax showed Akshay getting beaten up, pinned down, and choked by LeClair till he struggles and somehow manages to stab LeClair multiple times to death. Akshay almost had it, and I thought this would have been probably the end of our dear old Akki in the movie! Anyways, jokes apart because that would never have been the case.

The songs in Cuttputlli are not at all appealing. However, the track “Laapata” by singers Dev Negi and Payal Dev aroused my interest on account of its mystery tune.

Overall, Cuttputlli is a 2-hour and 15-minute masterpiece that will thrill you, horrify you, and keep you engrossed till the very end. This murder mystery is a must-watch. If you haven’t watched the 2018 Tamil language slasher film “Ratsasan” of which this film is a remake, then grab hold of your devices and watch “Cuttputlli” streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar!


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  • Acting - 9.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 9.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 9/10
  • Watchability - 9.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 9/10
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About Subhadeep Kumar Ganguli

Meta film critic. Never make the same mistake twice. Make it three or four times just to be sure 😉

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