How often does Bollywood churn out a film that has a road trip for a backdrop? Not quite as often as it should, right? Which is why we were excited the moment we caught the trailer of Karwaan. Starring Irrfan Khan, the film, right from its first look, promised that it won't be usual fare and we were game. And the wait ended for us today, as we caught the press screening of the film. When the film hit interval point, we told you as to how we just couldn't stop laughing throughout the first half. But the film's second half had a lot more to offer. Let's tell you everything...
What's it about
Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan) is your regular office employee who would do anything to not be one. He has a passion for photography but his dad doesn't share his vision. They end up not talking to each other due to this. And then one day Avinash finds out that his dad has passed away and now he must collect his body for the last rites. But he still is quite detached as he goes about the process - first to cremate the body and then, when he finds out that the bodies have been exchanged, to get his dad's body. As he undertakes a journey to correct the folly, you can sense that it is more for himself than for the obligation he has towards his father. Joining him on the journey is Shaukat (Irrfan Khan). He is a quirky, conservative guy who would go out on a limb for Avinash. Along the way they also pick up Tanya (Mithila Palkar). A misadventure and many stops later, the trio reach their destination. But do they really?
In an Irrfan-starrer, it is obvious to state that he shines. But just to reiterate... He does. He slut-shames women, hates angrez log with a vengeance, judges everyone and offers a prayer each time he sees a moral code being violated. But no matter how cringe-y he sounds, by the end of the film it won't come as a surprise if you want to hire him to be your companion for every trip you take. Apart from him, Dulquer, is quite confident considering this is his first Hindi film. Despite not being entirely comfortable with the language, he doesn't let it come through even once. Commendably subtle and restrained, he is the kind of actor who grows on you. Mithila is her usual spunky self but in the scenes that require her to be emotional, she is good too. Apart from them, the cinematography really ropes you into the film. Don't blame the makers of the film if it makes you want to pack your bags and hit the road.
It's a slice-of-life film so epiphanies are expected. However, the manner in which the humour diminishes from the film towards the climax, is not funny. After an easy breezy film, the finale seems a tad bit morbid. Despite it being a film about exchange of dead bodies, the whole film seemed rather positive except in the end. Perhaps a better way of delivering the message would have helped. Also the strong sense of 3 Idiot deja-vu that the plot induced, didn't help matters.
What to do
The film has a very strong first half, where you won't be able to stop laughing, but the second half takes a long pause, ponders, reflects and becomes almost pensive. Karwaan is certainly worth a watch for it's funny first half. And if it's not the story that you are in for, catch it for the brilliance that is Irrfan Khan.
3.5 out of 5
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