Director: Pawan Kumar
Cast: Amala Paul, Eshwar Rachiraju, Pradeep Rudra, Rahul Vijay
For a science-fiction thriller, the title Kudi Yedamaithe sounds perfect. It opens up a variety of possibilities and the first one obviously deals with the simple idea of swapping stories, or in this case, swapping timelines. Well, the timelines don't shift radically here, but they offer the two protagonists, who lead different lifestyles, a grand chance to win a fight against destiny. In a tale that's embedded in the jolly-natured spirit of time loop, what more do you want? Isn't this what, "if at first, you don't succeed, try, try again," ultimately means.
Life, however, isn't anywhere close to a time loop. What you indeed get is one – and just one – choice usually. How lovely it'd be if you could breathe your last today and start afresh tomorrow! You could make the same mistake several times until you get bored of it and move on to greener pastures. That's a thought you can chew on when you're loitering in your leisurely apprenticeship. For now, let's get back to Pawan Kumar's show that has eight curlicued episodes.
Kudi Yedamaithe opens dryly as though it's deliberately meant to move at a snail's pace. But don't let the first episode fool you, for it gets better later. The first episode gives you a glimpse of the day being lived by Aadhi (Rahul Vijay). He works for a food delivery company called repEAT and the pun serves two purposes at once. At the surface level, it reaches for the USP of the show, i.e. repetition of events. And as a comment on food culture, it tells you that we've become addicted to food delivery apps.
Customers call Aadhi, while he's on his way to deliver, to ask him if he could get them chocolates and cigarettes, as well, and our lad doesn't bat an eye-lid to make a pit-stop. He's also an aspiring actor who goes for auditions regularly and gets disappointed when the directors rope in others instead of him. Don't let the first episode, which has all these small and mostly irrelevant details, fool you, for it gets better later. You just need to give it some more time to wrap your head around them.
In Kumar's previous Kannada features, Lucia (2013) and U Turn (2016), all the knotted threads were unspooled only in the final section, whereas in Kudi Yedamaithe, there are seemingly no knots at all.
The premise involves Durga (Amala Paul), a cop who's looking into the case of a kidnapped child, figuring out a way to save him. If she even makes a single wrong move, the kidnappers, without any remorse, will slit the child's throat. As gory as it sounds, the series doesn't make you feel scared. This is not a crime comedy and the offenders don't make silly jokes before brandishing their knives. Nevertheless, since the very act of killing keeps going through a cycle, you tend to believe that it won't happen for real. What's the solution then? Ah, that's the key.
Durga, in each of her attempts, does things differently and so does Aadhi, for he's looking to make sure that his friend reaches home safely. He learns that altering his routine might be dangerous for the people who are close to him. He's also in a time loop, but he learns about the term via Durga when he finally has a chat with her about their intertwined kismet. From then on, they both put in extra effort to crawl out of their misery.
What they don't seem interested in, however, is putting their inner demons to rest. Aadhi blames himself for an unfortunate incident that he was a part of and Durga, for her part, drowns herself in liquor, perhaps, to keep the guilty conscience at bay. She's an officer who's required to put the culprits behind bars, but she finds it difficult to connect all the dots. She's afraid that she won't be able to pull off the task and her fears, which often go unspoken, dullen her face.
The actual drama begins when Durga and Aadhi team up to put their collective intelligence on the table. And this is where the show really catches fire. Though the major drill appears to go on an endless loop, the revelation, which becomes redundant after a point, emerges from the fires of the season finale. How can you not give in to the temptation of solving the mystery when the director gives you so many clues? Again, for what it's worth, Kudi Yedamaithe doesn't entirely bank on the closing scene. It bows out of the screen with a cliffhanger. I had a great time with this little jigsaw puzzle that falls into place slowly.
Now, I'm hungry for Kumar's upcoming Kannada film, Dvitva, for which he has joined hands with Puneeth Rajkumar. If he has been making such mind-twisting stuff on small budgets, imagine what he can do with an A-lister. Here's hoping that he goes on to make many more thrillers and keeps us on the edge of our seats.