The only info one needs when deciding whether to watch Koyelaanchal is that director Ashu Trikha includes multiple flashbacks from the perspective of an infant. Let me repeat: A baby has flashbacks in a violent drama about the coal mafia.
The fact that Koyelaanchal is about the coal mafia is the only fact anyone can be sure of regarding the movie. It’s so disorganized that it’s never established which character is the film’s protagonist. It could be the coal don, Saryu Bhan Singh (Vinod Khanna). It could be the don’s hired killer, Karua (Vipinno). It could be Nisheeth (Suniel Shetty), the government bureaucrat sent to clean up the town. It could be the baby.
Koyelaanchal begins with a glimpse into life in the title town. A bunch of people die in a bunch of separate incidents, though it’s not clear why. All that’s clear is that the police don’t care and that Saryu Bhan is the town bigwig.
Nisheeth arrives from Delhi, ready to lay down the law. He’s disabused of that notion when Karua slits a guy’s throat in front of him, and the police chief (Deepraj Rana) says the victim probably had it coming.
On Saryu Bhan’s orders, Karua attempts to scare Nisheeth by shooting at him and stealing his car. Uh oh: Nisheeth’s baby is in the back seat! Queue the interval break.
After spending the first half establishing that Karua is Saryu Bhan’s cold-blooded, mindless lapdog — he washes Saryu Bhan’s feet and drinks the wash water, for Pete’s sake — the bulk of the second half of the movie is spent on an unbelievable comedy/character redemption arc as Karua takes care of the baby.
Asking the audience to suddenly find it charming as Karua — a guy who killed a labor protestor on stage at a rally using a dancer’s scarf — gets grossed out by a baby peeing is absurd. But it’s not as absurd as the baby’s flashbacks.
The baby watches as the admittedly fit Karua does push ups on the floor of their hideout shack. The camera fades to black-and-white as the baby fondly remembers being carried by Nisheeth on his shoulders. Cut back to the present, where the wistful baby crawls over to Karua and climbs on his back. Karua resumes his push ups, giving the baby the ride he so longed for.
If that’s not enough to make you puke, Koyelaanchal is full of enough blood, gore, vomit, and urine to make you do so.
Nisheeth yells a lot, but he does next to nothing to save his kidnapped child. Saryu Bhan might be a compelling character if Trikha had allotted time for character development, instead of wasting time by having random Maoists blow stuff up periodically.
There’s nothing in it to make me recommend Koyelaanchal. The few laughs it generates are completely unintentional. (Drinking game idea: take a shot every time Karua points a gun at the baby.) Even the dramatic elements aren’t interesting enough to overcome the movie’s sluggish pace and underdeveloped characters.