This life-changing journey focuses on three characters who are brought together by death
Karwaan: A road-trip film that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling
There are few films (especially in Bollywood) that leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling and a big smile on your face as you walk out of the theatre. Akarsh Khurana’s debut film manages to do that almost effortlessly.
It is being called a road trip film. But really, it is a life-changing journey of the three characters who are brought together by death: Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan), a miserable Bangalore-based IT guy stuck in a dead-end job, who holds a grudge against his father for crushing his dream of pursuing a career in photography, resulting in a strained relationship; Tanya, a precocious, liberal and opinionated college student; and Shaukat, the man with the infamous blue van, who has mastered the art of sweeping things under the rug and has a dark sense of humour.
Avinash requests his garage-owner friend Shaukat to help him pick up his father’s dead body from Kochi, after an unapologetic mix-up in the cargo (“You should have checked,” the guy at the company tells Avinash) leaves him with the dead body of his father’s co-passenger in the accident instead.
They pick up Tanya from her college in Ooty on the request of her mother, so the young girl can bid goodbye to her grandmother. The start of the road trip isn’t the smoothest, with a few detours seeming unnecessary, but it all ties in together at the end.
Salmaan certainly makes an impression and will no doubt be a huge hit with audiences who may have not been familiar with the south Indian actor’s previous films. He plays Avinash in an endearingly earnest, subtle and nuanced manner, and his Hindi isn’t bad either – though there were a few times his Malayalam accent slips through.
He has great screen presence and holds his own even in scenes with Khan, who is the true star of the film. He says the most ridiculous things, offers unsolicited advice and pearls of wisdom to all and sundry, and you love him, irrespective of whether or not you agree with him or not. He has a knack for dark humour and breathes life into the film.
Palkar successfully breaks out from her ‘cute and bubbly’ stereotype as the bratty Tanya, and may seem like the rebel without a cause, but it is refreshing to see a character who refuses to let judgements faze her.
Another aspect that sets Karwaan apart is its relatability. In fact, through most of the film, as bizarre certain situations may seem, it doesn’t feel like you are watching a film – it is almost like you are watching a series of events from the sidelines, and subtlety on Khurana’s part plays a huge role in this.
In not spoon-feeding the audience and letting them form judgements of their own, he has elevated the film. A small touch I noticed, was in a scene at a pharmacy where Palkar’s character is buying a few supplies, there is a carton of toothpaste labeled ‘Starlit’, perhaps a nod to the hotel the cast and crew stayed in during their schedule, called Starlit Suites.
No journey is complete with good music and a scenic view, and Karwaan offers the both - the easy on the ears and hummable tunes perfectly complement the film without overpowering scenes, and cinematographer Avinash Arun (who has previously worked on Masaan and Drishyam), has done full justice to the scenic beauty of the Malabar coast of India.
Possibly one of the best films of the year so far, this feel-good on-the-road comedy is comfortable, beautiful and smooth.