Director: Akarsh Khurana
Compared to the West, fewer road movies have been made here. One of the first, ‘Chori Chori’ was later remade as ‘Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahi’. We had Mehmood’s ‘Bombay to Goa’ and Shahid-Kareena’s ‘Jab We Met ‘. But, as the saying goes, these are few and far between.
Irrfan Khan, who’s unfortunately fighting a life-threatening ailment, has excelled in the comedy genre, particularly the road trip movies (Piku, Qarib Qarib Singlle). Director Akarsh Khurana, in the queerly spelt ‘Karwaan’ takes one down a sprightly and perky jaunt.
Avinash (Malayalam star Dulquer Salmaan) is trapped in an IT job in Bengaluru against his calling only because his dad’s (Akash Khurana, father of the director) refusal to let the son pursue photography, which was close to his heart. When he receives news that his dad has perished in a bus accident, he goes to the cargo centre to take delivery of the coffin. Returning home, he realises to his horror that the coffin contains the body of a woman, whose daughter, the agency informs him apathetically, resides in Kochi. Avinash courteously offers to go south to trade the bodies, and on the mother’s request, agrees to bring home her daughter Tanya (noted YouTube and Marathi actress Mithila Palkar) from the college hostel in Ooty.
But Avinash has to first hire a van; he finds one driven by Shaukat (Irrfan Khan). Thus begins a trip laden with the unexpected.
Karwaan, as a film succeeds mainly due to Irrfan’s histrionics. The screenplay is helped immensely by some witty dialogues by Hussain Dalal, and as usual, it is Irrfan who manages to monopolize the one-liners, and with hilarious effect.
The characters of the three main players are markedly dissimilar. While Avinash is serious to the point of being brooding, Tanya is buoyant with a couldn’t-care-less attitude. But Shaukat’s character is the fulcrum around which the sub-plots revolve. Whether it’s rehearsing his lines for his beloved or trying to get out from being at the receiving end from goons or being outraged at the sight of Tanya’s skimpy costumes, he has a repartee for every situation.
The arrival at Kochi is one of the film’s main sub-plots. Superb cameos by the Bengali born Amala Akkineni as Tanya’s mother, Tahira and Kriti Karbanda, as Romana, Avinash’s ex-flame, add to the film’s charm.
The runtime of two hours cannot be faulted while the cinematography by Avinash Arun takes in the scenic beauty of Southern India. Performances are top-notch and one hopes to see more of Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar in Hindi films.
The only black spot, if one can term it that, is of the two youngsters drinking and generally cavorting in the face of the grief they have just learnt of.