‘King of Kotha’ (2023) Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Did Raju Get Rid Of Kannan?

The commercial flicks in the Malayalam film industry are, in most cases, overstretched and badly written. In the film industry, which is known for content-driven cinema, most of their commercially driven stories do not garner critical acclaim but are loved by the masses. Lucifer, Kaduva, and Kappa are some of the recent examples of action-packed, over-the-top dramas. The Dulquer Salman starrer King of Kotha is another addition to the list, directed by Abhishek Joshiy, son of the legendary Malayalam director Joshiy. On the surface, the movie is a gangster film, but at its core, it is the story of two friends.

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Spoilers Ahead


CI Shahul Hassan In Kotha

King of Kotha begins with a voiceover that speaks about the history of the town named Kotha. Set in the year 1996, the dreary town of Kotha receives CI Shahul Hasan, who has been sent here to control the law-and-order situation. The previous officer in his post was forced to leave because of a local gangster named Kannan Bhai. The entire town is scared to come forward and speak up against him. On the other hand, Kannan is involved in all forms of illegal activities. The most profitable seem to be drug trafficking and supply. The director and the writer beyond that never discussed other nefarious activities Kannan and his rumored K-Team were involved in.

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The beginning of King of Kotha is unique because the villain is introduced to the audience first. The hero of the film is introduced at least half an hour into the movie. Kannan seems confident and arrogant about his position in the town. Everyone refers to him as the King of Kotha, not out of respect but out of fear. The first meeting between Shahul and Kannan did not go as planned. Kannan ends up insulting Shahul in the presence of his subordinate, SI Tony Titus, who is aware of how Kannan rose to power in this town. The entire fifteen to twenty minutes of King of Kotha are written in a way to set up the villain. Kannan’s character has negative shades just to establish the antagonist. Something most of us have seen in many Telugu or Tamil commercial films.


Raju And Kannan

To understand Kannan’s rise to power, Shahul will have to understand Raju’s reign over Kotha. Tony shares the story of the latter, who was revered by the townspeople. Unlike Kannan, Raju was respected because, apart from all the illegal activities, he was considered the Robin Hood of the town. The glorification of a hero like Raju is bound to happen. It is a common trope used in commercial films when they must project the hero as a messiah who is involved in wrongful activities as well.

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The story takes the narrative back to Kotha in 1986. Raju kills a man who worked for Ranjith, another fearsome gangster from the neighborhood town. Ranjith never touched Raju out of respect for his father, Kotha Ravi. Kotha Ravi was once upon a time a dreadful gangster, but times have changed, and he has become an insignificant figure.

This backstory involving Ranjith and Raju plays an important role in the narrative ahead. Ranjith was a catalyst for a lot of things that went awry in Raju’s life. Kannan is Raju’s right-hand man and agrees to do anything for his friend. Raju, as a friend, does not take advantage of Kannan, but it seems that, at times, Kannan does feel underappreciated. But he does not let his resentment out. Kannan offers to begin supplying several narcotic drugs, but Raju refuses to do so. His girlfriend, Tara’s brother, died of a drug overdose, which made him turn down the offer. We are introduced to Tara, a local bookstore owner who loves Raju as well. The pacing at this point is decent, and we get to see people connected to Raju and Kannan. It is easily understood that a row occurred between Raju and Kannan, leading to the latter taking over the workings of the town.

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Raju is shown pictures of Tara being intimate with another man by Ranjith Bhai. In his bid to confront her, Tara reveals that she was scared to refuse Raju’s advances, which is the only reason she agreed to be his girlfriend. She did not mean to cheat on him. The statements made by Tara are contradictory. If she did not mean to cheat on him, Tara should not have met the guy. If she had been vocal about many other issues, she could have been honest about her feelings for Raju instead of making matters messy. There is no arc given to her from this point. She is the stereotypical female character who causes a lot of issues. This kind of messaging is outdated.

His love for her surpasses everything else at this point, and he beats up every person from the rival gang, including Ranjith as well. This narrative did not make any sense at all. It seems the writers wanted to add another action sequence to make King of Kotha fit into the genre better. There was no conclusion to his love story. Raju also ends up beating Kannan black and blue. He learns that Kannan betrayed his trust by purchasing drugs from Ranjith in the hope of making more profits. If Kannan can bring more money in, it could mean he will be able to replace Raju and become the next King of Kotha. This was the point of disharmony that we were waiting for.

Raju’s anger was justified at this point because Kannan not only fraternized with the enemy but also went against the guidelines set by him. Raju almost partially blinded Kannan. After this scuffle, Raju’s mother begs him to leave town because she wants him to make it out alive. Raju agreed with his mother for once. The relationship between Raju and his parents is tumultuous. Raju disliked his father for being a bad example all his life. Now that he has become an anti-social entity, he never gets along with his mother. The only person who brings him happiness is his sister, Rithu. Raju derives a lot of his character from his father and is unwilling to have a decent relationship with him.


Did Raju Get Rid Of Kannan And His Gang?

After learning the history of Raju and Kannan, CI Shahul takes it upon himself to clean up the town by bringing Raju back to Kotha. Shahul’s idea sounds plausible because if Raju and Kannan are placed on opposite sides of the spectrum, there is a chance Raju will win the battle. It is implied from Kannan’s mannerisms that he is still afraid of Raju.

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The story, from this point on, becomes outlandish. No one in the town knew about Raju’s current whereabouts, but Shahul could track him down in no time. It is not clear how Shahul managed to do that. The suspension of disbelief has just begun. Shahul and Tony come to know that Rithu is in a relationship with a man named Jinu, and they quickly break up. Shahul also sends Raju a telegram insinuating that his sister is in trouble. The idea of a female relative being regarded as vulnerable or defenseless is problematic messaging, something the makers did not try to rectify at any point. Jinu is killed by Raju for harassing his sister in broad daylight. Since Raju is back in town, many in town are unwilling to speak up against him. The deceased Jinu’s sister is Kannan’s wife, Manju, and she is livid at the police taking little to no action to arrest Raju.

The story here is a mishmash of many things. The constant back and forth between Raju and Kannan ever since the former’s return to Kotha causes trouble, which is something Shahul wanted. But the narrative only gets shaky. The makers tried to fit in too many fight sequences, which only increased the length of the runtime. The genesis of this tussle starts when Kannan hires an assassin to kill Raju, but their plan backfires. Raju ends up dismembering the assassin. Raju also ends up killing Kannan’s right-hand man in a fight sequence that takes place right in the middle of a market. In retaliation, Kannan gravely injures Tara and kills Raju’s father. Kannan was aware of Raju trying to reconcile with his father and Tara on his return to Kotha, but he made sure his happiness was short-lived. Kannan knows Raju too well and pulls off this heinous crime.

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Kannan also captures and stabs Raju in the hope of getting rid of him completely. Raju escapes, but not before revealing that Jinu was Manju’s son born out of rape. He claims to empathize with her because of her past, but he cannot forgive her or Jinu for putting Rithu in danger. Raju escaping from Kannan’s gang creates a frenzy for the next three weeks. Soon after, he slowly kills everybody working as a part of Kannan’s ‘K team’ to destabilize him once and for all. The oscillating narrative gets tedious after a point. The audience only wants the story to end. The exaggeration and multiple plot twists only leave the audience frustrated.

Raju gets Kannan’s last henchman on his side by promising him Kotha. Raju, just like the hero with superhuman capabilities in every other commercial action film, manages to kill Kannan’s men. He does not kill Kannan because he respects and loves him too much as a friend. He won’t be able to live with the guilt. He brings forward the men who worked for Ranjith. Ranjith was killed by Kannan and Manju so that they could take over the city from him. This tiny subplot gave the narrative a Macbeth touch. The deceased Ranjith’s son is given the honor of killing Kannan. The makers were aiming to give the kid moral justice, which is again a problematic trope.

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The amount of needless violence and killing that is showcased in the film, and the makers justifying these acts in the name of masculinity, is a narrative that should not be encouraged. The end of King of Kotha is set in Shimla in 1998. Raju and Tara have moved to this mountainous city with Rithu, away from the town of Kotha. Raju receives a call from a local gangster who seems to have gotten support from Manju. Together, they threaten to kill him, but Raju, being himself, challenges the man on the other side of the phone to locate him. This ending proves that the battle is far from over, and Manju wants her revenge for killing Kannan and her son. It does imply that King of Kotha‘s sequel is in the making that will take this revenge saga forward. Hopefully, it will not be as tiring as King of Kotha 1.


Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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