Meet-n-greet Karthik (Farhan Akhtar): An introvert by nature and shy by choice. Nervous and a loser, Karthik suffers with huge confidence issues and is miserable at his just average job that yields less than average results. He lacks everything that an IIM topper, a CA record-breaker possesses. His boss treats him like dirt. Shonali (Deepika Padukone), his colleague, who he secretly loves, doesn’t even know he exists. An underdog, he knows it, and accepts it.
A whole lot of nothing, he has no zeal, passion and buoyancy, is mocked at by anyone and everyone. This is the life Karthik has been living for years and when he starts believing that it can’t get any more worse and prepares to pop lethal pills, the unexpected happens. Mind it, twenty minutes into the movie and his entire personality revolutionises – from a sufferer to an upbeat confident man who knows his job role well enough to take others down. And all this thanks to that one phone call. Amused? Well, this is the storyline of Karthik Calling Karthik.
The entire run (two and a half hours) ticks around Karthik’s job place, love life and this other man aka Karthik who rings him at 5am (sharp) everyday. This caller delivers Karthik his daily pep talk, readying him to leave the rest of the world behind. What makes this movie tolerable is the first half, where Karthik and Shonali rumbles and throw witty punch-lines at each other. Move into the second half and the story takes a wide U-turn to a disorder theme. Yes, another movie, another disorder! This time it is schizophrenia, a psychological one.
To start with, romance between the lead pair is beautifully captured in the reel. Two young and passionate office colleagues falling in love is a soft subject that can make everyone identify with it. But with a disorder being merged, it changes the entire perception. It is the storyline that has umpteen flaws which should not have been overlooked, especially when the target audience is the younger crowd. For instance, Karthik, gen X boy, does not carry a mobile and is also scared to have a landline. Hard to believe! Second, he listens to this strange man on the phone who changes his life overnight but on the other hand does not even care to pay attention to his psychiatrist (Shifaali Shah) who he has known for years.
Though the weak plot cannot sideline the superb performances delivered by the entire cast. Farhan, the all-rounder, once again woos everyone by his acting and slapstick humour; he marvellously transforms himself from a loser to a superlative and back to a loser. Deepika as the glamour doll does an impressive job – she is gutsy and lives on her terms and conditions. Ram Kapoor as Kamat (Karthik’s boss), Vivan Bhatena as Ashish (Deepika’s ex-flame) and Shifaali Shah, the psychiatrist – all are at par with each other and deliver their lines well.
The music is groovy and beautifully synchronises with the film. With thriller chords and romantic tunes, the background score blends well with the scenes. The lighting, decor and costumes also help in uplifting the film. And so does the dialogue. Furthermore, cinematography is excellent, especially the flashbacks in the sad song, Kaisee hai yeh udaasi.
Vijay Lalwani’s first shot at direction promises execution with finesse but is found grossly lacking on script.
Karthik Calling Karthik does start off showing potential with youth when it suddenly does summersault to not only undo its edge, but also spoil its prospects further beyond redemption.