Humour, ab toh life mein aaja.. two dead bodies, three souls and a journey of self discovery, Writer-director Akarsh Khurana (HIGH JACK previous – the stone that failed to get its tone) gets a refreshing detoxification in this dark, witty and charming coming of age that does the rare.
KARWAAN extracts humour from melancholic situations like death and smartly infuses ‘life’ in this movie that sees the Malayalam heartthrob Dulquer Salmaan – son of the incredible Mammootty making his Bollywood debut while the magnificent Irrfan Khan is at his quirkiest best.
Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan (DQ) an aspiring photographer has buried his dreams under the 9 to 5 regime in call centre. He is not happening, dejected and poses as a loser; he blames his father played by Akarsh Khurana for crushing his dreams and the helmer establishes it with periodic flashbacks where his father criticizes his decision to be a photographer and sarcastically adds, “play the drums as well along with photography and come out with a package deal for a living, or sometimes gets him emotionally blackmailed by saying, “ mein kya mu dikhaoonga” (what face will I show to the world).
The boring world of DQ gets an unexpectedly quirky twist when the news of his father’s sudden death during a pilgrimage tour makes him seek help of his friend Shaukat (Irrfan) to bring his father’s dead body from Bengaluru to Kochi, the journey brings the dejected Avinash with Shaukat - a Muslim wheel dealer who is unafraid in displaying his chauvinism and even racisms openly but is still likeable an endearing cause it’s the brilliance of Irrfan Khan who pokes fun at foreigners, orders Tanya (Mithila Palkar ) the third soul in this journey to cover her legs before she gets into his car, and we all giggle instead of getting cringed.
Avinash, Shaukat and Tanya embark on a quirky road trip where they gate crash into a wedding, fight goons, meet old college pals, land up in hospital and finally come to terms with their life’s and hear their heart beats.
Akarsh Khurana affectionately maintains a tone in this quirky, dark comedy and doesn,t go loud anywhere even when Shaukat is busy giving his unsolicited advices to people. Irrfan Khan’s sheer brilliance makes this journey enjoyably quirky, if Shaukat had faltered anywhere, KARWAAN would have spelled doom mid way.
Irrfan’s amazing brilliance doesn,t take away the credit from Dulquer Salmaan aka DQ, KARWAAN may not be an ‘ideal’ Bollywood debut for him but DQ is rightly subdued and in sync with the character he portrays. In the scene where he releases his angst over the real and digital photography and how technology is creating wrong notions about people who add tones and shades to casually clicked pictures underlines the difference between real and fake art.
Mithila Palkar as the rebel without cause is fine and has her moments. The surprise element is the ever beautiful Amala Akinneni ( the wife of Nagarjuna and the heroine of RGV’s SHIVA for people over here) during the final reels at the time when the movie gets its much needed ‘slice of life’ tag.
The inclusion of Kriti Kharbanda in a cameo is apt and she delivers those charming moments and is perfectly presented in that mismatch tees and pajamas. Donna Munshi as the woman in burkha adds more fun and is quite good.
Akarsh Khurana’s eye for human eccentricity flowers on pitch perfect performances and eye pleasing locales beautifully captured by Avinash Arun. Technicalities are fine and production values are neat.
However Akarsh Khurana’s road trip during the second half wanders a bit and feels short of humour and suddenly realizes that it also has to fulfill the duty of a feel good cinema, the heart to heart conversations are less and most of the humour is dominated by Irrfan Khan who cracks it at will.
Such is the power of Irrfan Khan’s act that in sequence when he tries to woo Donna Munshi in hospital with crazy shayrri’s gets out of stock and hums the line “Kitna pyara wada hai inn matwali aankhon ka” from Nasir Hussain’s 1971 musical blockbuster CARAVAN ( for those who were wondering why the title of this film is sounding similar). Ironically, Jeetuji’s flexibility and moves gave the erstwhile Asha ji a complex in that song and here Irrfan’s sudden remembrance adds that endearing ‘sly’ factor associated with his character which is not at all harmful, further during the final reels a moment arises when Irrfan Khan convinces that Burkha clad women to say those three words that has found its place in top debate nowadays– ‘Triple Talaq’ but here it comes from a woman and its fun.
KARWAAN is a quirky journey that has humour coming from such unexpected zones that makes a sly comment on common beliefs of morality while life takes its surreal turns as we figure out what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.