Usually, films revolving around deaths are dull, slow and boring with a limited audience that likes to cry their heart out for no valid reason. Akarsh Khurana’s Karwaan is nothing like that because here, an accidental death brings three different kinds of people together who might not have met each other in normal circumstances. And if one of these three people is Irrfan Khan, then you are certain to be in for a treat as he literally steers the whole film away from dullness, slowness, and boredom.
Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan) lives the life of an ordinary middle-class guy in his 20s when he gets the phone call that changes his life forever. His father (Akash Khurana) died in an accident while going for pilgrimage and his body was sent to Avinash in a coffin by the travel agents as the deceased left his number as an emergency contact. However, in a mix-up, Avinash receives the coffin of Tanya’s (Mithila Palkar) grandmother who also lost his life in the same accident, whereas Tanya’s mother got the coffin having Avinash’s dad. Thus Avinash and his mechanic-friend Shaukat (Irrfan Khan), undertake a journey to the South of India to a) pick Tanya from her boarding school, b) drop a box of another victim to her family and c) finally exchange coffins. Add goons that are after Shaukat, the generation gap between Avinash and Tanya (Mithila Palkar) and a shehnai wala who gets injured along with Shaukat in a scuffle. Interesting, isn’t it?
The young Akarsh Khurana who acted in a couple of films and co-wrote Krrish with Sachin Bhowmick makes his directorial debut and doesn’t disappoint as to make people laugh around death is never easy. With Irrfan Khan’s perfect comic timing and mature acting from newcomers Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar, you get a film that changes gear as the journey extends. Irrfan’s one-liners are so good that the audience was compelled to laugh out loud, without his character doing anything extra. Malayalam film star Dulquer Salmaan was impressive as he seemed to stand his ground in front of his veteran onscreen partner and same can be said of Mithila Palkar who showed Dulquer’s character that he is no longer the young man he expected himself to be. There is a little touch of Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha as well as one of the lead characters wanted to do something else in life but ended up elsewhere because of the elders.
The film started very slow and by the end of the first half-hour, many were wondering as to where the story would lead them. The pace was perfect for such a film but had the first half-hour been chopped to say 10 minutes, it would have come out as better. Furthermore, the language used in the script is Urdu which sadly not many in India (and very few in Pakistan) don’t understand. For those who love the language (that’s usually people who are over 30 years old) will like the movie as Irrfan Khan’s character will keep them entertained. The goon-angle seemed forced and the film could have done well even without it as it distracted the audience and nearly took half-an-hour to commence on-screen.
The verdict 3.5/5
These days you don’t get to see a film where characters have backstories, different traits, and qualities that make them memorable. Each character in Karwaan reminds you of either yourself or someone you know and is linked through a back story, unwillingly. The scenes where Avi discovers that the body in the coffin isn’t that of his father, the one where Irrfan verbally fights the goons and where Tanya learns about the aim of the journey are good enough to keep you in your seat for the remainder of the film. It was great to see new actors do well alongside Irrfan especially Mithila who doesn’t cross the irritating line like many new actresses both in India and Pakistan. Cameos also add color to the narrative and one must commend the dialogue writer Hussain Dalal and Akarsh Khurana for coming up with a film that will achieve cult status in coming years for being truly deep, without trying.