Karwaan Movie Review - Irrfan Khan provides all the fun!
For every sequence Irrfan isn't on screen, you notice, the film suffers. You can say that for films in general - for all the time, for health reasons, he's been compelled to stay away.
Dir: Akarsh Khurana
Cast: Irrfan, Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar
Something about this film tells me it's possibly much better written than it's turned out, although it's impossible to tell such things, unless one has personally observed the process. Still, there's absolutely nothing to fault in the underlying idea behind three disparate individuals — a young Millennial girl (Mithila Palkar); a single, urbane man, grappling with usual downs of a regimented, corporate life (Dulquer Salmaan); and an old, conservative Muslim with a Lucknowi/Hyderabadi/Bhopali twang/swag (Irrfan) —getting on a road-trip, that threatens to change their world, in a way that most road trips in movies inevitably do, making it such a fun, fine genre, to start with.
For, isn't a road movie the perfectly compressed metaphor for life itself, where as you go along, people and circumstances change all that you are, and will ever be? This one, across sunny, stunning South India, however, tangentially deals with death, given that one coffin needs to be delivered to an address, while the other one needs to be picked up in return, since both got accidentally exchanged in airline cargo.
Whether the gallows humour, revolving around memories, grief, or bereavement, cuts it or not, in the same way that we recently marveled at Shubhashish Bhutiani's Mukti Bhawan (2016) might be beside the point. The fact that you find poignancy of that moment so sorely missing (or even sloppily attempted towards the end) irks even more.
As does the clichéd grouse that a boy nurses against his dad, who didn't let him pursue his creative ambitions, which is what you know about Salmaan's character (and thousands before him). His father is no more. Salmaan, incidentally, is a major Malayalam heart-throb making his Hindi debut with this film. His teenaged, female co-star Palkar, likewise, is a web-series sensation, crossing over to the big screen here.
Both play characters who have only just met, and yet the hasty familiarity on display, or the speed with which their relationship goes from stranger to near soul-mate status, gives you a sense that the film, much like the big van they're all in, doesn't quite swerve as seamlessly as you'd like it to.
Which is really what I'm talking about, referring to everything being in place (perhaps on paper) — quirky moments, sub-text, even the breeziness of it all (raising your hopes to Little Miss Sunshine levels) — but somehow all of it not coming together in a manner that it doesn't seem slightly forced, even mildly fake.
None of the above applies to Irrfan though — playing the only part in the movie with hardly any back-story, whatsoever. So yeah, maybe it's got nothing to do with writing then. Irrfan simply shows up, casually mumbles his lines, timed to absolute perfection, droopily looks up, and the audience is in splits, even as they've watched him in quite a few road trips, of late, already (Shoojit Sircar's Piku, Tanuja Chandra's Qarib Qarib Singlle, etc).
For every sequence Irrfan is not on screen, you notice, the film suffers. Think you can say that for films in general — for all the time, for health reasons, he's been compelled to stay away. This will make you want him back even more.
Watch Karwaan Trailer
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