'Karwaan' Review: The undecided journey

By Virag Dhulia

Karwaan is a Bollywood film released in 2018. It’s in the genre of comedy. The film’s story is by Bejoy Nambiar of Wazir fame, while screenplay and direction is by Akarsh Khurana. The film stars Irrfan Khan, Dulquer Salman and Mithila Palkar in lead roles and is produced by Ronnie Screwvala.

The film’s plot revolves around the journey of misplaced coffins of the father of Avinash Rajpurohit (played by Dulquer Salman) and that of the granny of Tania (played by Mithila Palkar). The journey is accomplished in Shaukat’s van (played by Irrfan Khan). Shaukat is a friend of Avinash. The film starts with the death of Avinash’s father and Tania’s granny, who were co-passengers in a bus and they get killed in a bus accident. And then the story moves forward about how the coffins gets misplaced and the journey begins from Bangalore to Ooty to Kochi to Coimbatore and the circumstances that lead to it. During the journey, each character goes through their own emotional journeys and a reflection of life.

From the beginning the makers have kept the genre of the film as comedy and even though it involves something as sensitive as death of near and loved ones, the makers have managed to keep the comedy quotient of the film well balanced. There are many comic moments in the film in the midst of the tension of misplaced coffins. Needless to say, the comic scenes would have been meaningless without Irrfan Khan.

Performances by Dulquer Salman and Mithila Palkar are above average and could have been much better. Even though it is a very good attempt by the makers to make a film that’s on the comic lines involving a serious topic as death and we need to laud them for the effort.The film does have a lot of laughter moments which keeps the entertainment factor on, yet the film lacks the wow factor. And it is nothing without Irrfan.

The film lags terribly on the emotional factor. The cold treatment given to the situation when Avinash comes to know about his father’s death (notwithstanding the fact that they had grown apart in the last few years, but still death moves people) and the casual manner in which Tania responds to her granny’s death, especially after the fact that she has been shown to be very close to her, is totally non-relatable and not at all expected from seasoned storytellers like Nambiar and filmmakers like Akarsh Khurana. One would have thought that Ronnie Screwvala would have at least brought in his acumen of cinema but it seems he just invested money in the project and forgot about it.

The scene where Tania drinks at a wedding while carrying her granny’s coffin throws the audience off the emotional trail. It’s only the comic sequences in the film that keeps it alive, apart from Irrfan’s acting.

The common thread of all the three characters – Shaukat, Avinash and Tania having trouble with their respective fathers is cliché and there’s no newness that the film offers as an emotional arc. Irresponsible behavior by Tania is unjustified and passing it as “My Choice” is a poor role model for youngsters.

The friendship between Avinash and Shaukat is also not explained and there is no background given for the deep bond they seem to share. Whereas, as a storyteller myself, I would consider exploring into the background as to why Shaukat would go to such length so that Avinash can perform last rites of his father, given the fact that he does not even cry once for his father.

Overall, it’s a very poor attempt of storytelling and the only respite is the comedy. If you are looking for mindless comedy then this is the movie but if you are looking for emotional journey, then do not see this film. However, given the sensitive topic of death, I feel emphasis should have been laid on the emotional arcs of the characters as well.

I would have given 2 stars to it, but only for Irrfan and the comedy I give it a 3-star rating. One time watchable.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

About Author - 

Virag Dhulia is an independent short film maker, a registered screenwriter and a novelist.

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