Karwaan of life

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Aug 2018 12:29:27




By Farina Salim Quraishi,

An unpredictable journey, three lost souls, one dead body and many miles, Karwaan, on the surface at least, has all the perfect ingredients to tell a fantastic tale about life and relationships. But contrary to the spirit of the standout lines in the film, Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil magar; Log saath aate gaye aur karvan banta gaya…, this Karwaan doesn’t cover much ground despite much meandering around. Taking its time to stretch its leg, the movie is content in rambling around leisurely in circles, hardly concerned about the numerous roadblocks it bumps into along the way. Keeping its infectious vibe and cheer intact all through, Karwaan is happy to celebrate life and even death patchily, relying on true and tested tropes of the genre.

Avinash Rajpurohit (Dulquer Salmaan) is stuck with a soul-sapping job in an IT company which warns its employees not to complain as ‘Unemployment Feels Worse’ in large prints. Crushed under the weight of his unfilled dreams - courtesy his father’s insistence on making a career - Avinash is deeply unhappy with the world in general and his dad in particular. An expected phone call informing him about his father’s demise in a road accident messes up Avinash’s angst-filled universe, not to mention his neatly sorted ‘I hate my dad’ feelings.

He seeks out his buddy, Shaukat (Irrfan) and his van, (not particularly in that order) to collect the body from the airport the next day. A mix up by the cargo company results in Avinash’s father’s body reaching Kochi and Avinash being handed the corpse of an elderly woman. The duo are then forced to take a long road trip to collect the right mortal remains, with little going right on the unexpected journey.  When the other victim of the mix-up, Tahira, informs that she wouldn’t be able to meet them halfway as promised, Avinash and Shaukat further take the long road to Kochi. Even as they are headed there, with a few shadowy figures following them, a teary-voiced Tahira unexpectedly asks them to collect her missing daughter from Ooty!

Over-riding dire warnings of Shaukat against mixing maiyyat and romance, Avinash agrees to trace and bring Tanya all the way to Kochi, the circuitous detours no bar.
Writer-director Akarsh Khurana has kept things simple and straightforward in Karwaan, perhaps a little too simple. The plot by Bejoy Nambiar, which was further developed by Khurana, is more about the journey than the destination. Fair enough for a movie about a road trip; but the problem in Karwaan is in the journey itself which is lopsided, to say the least. Karwaan is confused about the kind of film it wants to be. It oscillates between being a comedy, food for soul film to a dark dramedy; never staying true to one.

Also much like Avinash’s road-trip, the film too goes off-track quite a few time, with nothing substantial to show for the efforts. Randomness is the order in Karwaan as many events and characters keep popping up along the journey, sans any direction or purpose. Most don’t fit and only add to the abstracts in Karwaan. Characterisation too is not a strong point of the film. Except for Avinash’s story, others players, even important ones like Tanya and Shaukat, have no back stories.

But there is little denying the warmth and joviality Karwaan exudes in abundance. It’s three protagonists - Shaukat, a conservative and outspoken Muslim, Avinash, a repressed soul and Tanya, an outright rebel - are radically different in age and temperament, yet the film doesn’t sit on judgements and accepts each person as they are. Moreover, the emotional undercurrent in the saga about estrangement and reconciliation is heartwarming and leaves one with much to reflect upon.

For most of its 120-minute run, the film remains a breezy watch courtesy the immensely funny one-liners. The best lines, written by Hussain Dalal, are reserved for Irrfan, who with his dead-pan expressions makes one grin, willingly or even otherwise! He is funny as the flashy ‘Joker’ of the pack carrying the movie on his stellar shoulders. Despite the sustained spotlight, Karwaan is not Irrfan’s ride alone. Malayalam superstar Dulquer Salmaan aka DQ more than makes his presence felt with his understated performance.

Nailing his character’s sober and sombre personality traits with subtle gestures, DQ leaves a mark with his restrained performance. Easy on the eyes with an effortless charm, DQ is fantastic in his maiden Hindi venture. Internet sensation Mithila Palkar is the ray of shine in the film. Bringing much vitality with her spunk and spontaneity, Palkar fits in perfect and is not overshadowed by the stalwarts. With much to laugh and reflect upon and immensely likable Irrfan for company, joining this Karwaan may not be a bad idea. Just be sure to keep your expectations in check while you are at it.

The Hitavada Rating: O O