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Movie Review: Karwaan

Banners: RSVP Movies, Ishka Films

Producers: Ronnie Screwvala, Priti Rathi Gupta

Director: Akarsh Khurana

Cast: Irrfan, Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar, Akash Khurana, Maya Alag, Kriti Kharbanda, Amala Akkineni

Writers: Bejoy Nambiar (Story), Akarsh Khurana & Adhir Bhat (Screenplay), Hussain Dalal (Dialogues)

Music: Prateek Kuhad, Anurag Saikia, SlowCheetah and Shwetang Shankar, Imaad Shah

Death is a very sombre occurrence. It is dull, sad and extremely un-funny. But when you add a corpse mix-up, a road trip and three people who are as different as chalk, cheese and chai, it is story that could make for interesting telling.

Akarsh Khurana brings Bejoy Nambiar’s story to life with Karwaan. It is the story of Avinash, a reluctant IT employee; Shauqat, a garage owner; and Tanya, a rebel adolescent. A road accident in Gangotri results in the death of Avinash’s father and Tanya’s grandmother. A mix-up of the bodies by the cargo company results in Avinash having to travel to Kochi from Bangalore. Joining him on this journey is Shaukat – brazen, politically incorrect and in-your-face, and his blue van.

A detour en route to Kochi brings them to Tanya. She joins them as they head off to meet Tanya’s mother Tahira, who has received Avinash’s dad’s corpse. During the journey, they make some interesting pit stops; a wedding, the police station, the hospital and the home of an ex-flame. By the time they arrive in Kochi, they have discovered something about themselves and also revealed a certain part of their selves.

The script is really not a story, but a series of instances put together. The narrative meanders in the first half but post-interval, it picks up pace. In the writing department, what stands out is the dialogue that offers enough humour and emotion, delivered with simplicity. The camera captures the beautiful South India landscape in all its green glory. Gorgeous homes, the vast expanse of fields and every single frame is mesmerising.

The music is not jarring but it does sometimes break the flow of the film. Neither the lyrics nor the music stay with you, except maybe Heartquake. But the credit for that goes to the fact that it is picturised on Irrfan and it is his antics that make the song memorable.

Performance-wise, Karwaan belongs to Irrfan. He is effortless. Every word he utters, however annoying, irritating and unsavoury, makes you smile and smirk at the same time. He brings Shauqat to life – and how! The scenes where he is practicing how to express his love to a wall, or when he talks about his parents evoke laughter as well as tears.

Dulquer Salmaan makes his Bollywood debut with this film. The popular Malayalam actor is Avinash personified. If you have seen his work, you would know that he excels in making ordinary characters like Avinash, extraordinary. You are drawn into his disappointed and monotonous world. And when he breaks free of it, you rejoice with him. His chemistry with Irrfan is a treat to watch. The two feed off each other’s energy and it is their camaraderie that keeps the narrative engaging.

Mithila Palkar’s Tanya is good. Akash Khurana as Avinash’s dad does well. Kriti Kharbanda as Rumana is nice. Amala Akkineni is dignified. It is wonderful to see the actress in a Hindi film after a long time.  

Verdict: Worth a dekho!

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