Karwaan goes on a journey of life on a road with frequent potholes and speed breakers, loses its way with a messed up route, but eventually somehow gets to a destination it possibly wanted to reach. And that is a serious opportunity missed, because this road movie could have been so much more.
Director Akarsh Khurana, who has also developed the screenplay of the film based on a story by Bejoy Nambiar tries very hard to make it a cool and quirky film, and that unfortunately becomes its major roadblock in delivering a cruising experience!
This is a set piece for a road movie where three very different characters, who are brought together by a surprisingly unfunny turn of events, embark on a trip of self discovery – each on them unknowingly helping the other to realize their not-so-likeable sides, understand messed up relationships, seek out lost emotions, and open up deep hidden sentiments; all through a series of carefully haphazard stream of sequences that desperately try to be funny and quirky, but do not evoke organic reactions. Infact the quirky card is overplayed and forced, and the best parts of the film is when it doesn’t try to be funny!
The strength of any slice of life film lies in its writing, which turns out to be the weakest part of the film sadly. As a result, while we have three very grounded identifiable characters on the screen at all times, we just don’t get emotionally involved in their journey and don’t know them beneath the surface. Hence the emotions of mourning the loss of important relationships, or battling the heartbreak of unfulfilled dreams, or simply a rebellion against the should be’s of life, all pass us by but do not overtake our feelings as they should have. Even when they come well packaged with some terrific cinematography by Avinash Arun, and a pretty good musical score as trip companions.
A few other road trips have beautifully explored the quirkiness of Irrfan, whether it was Piku’s Rana or Qarib Qarib Singlle’s Yogi. Here his Shaukat has possibly been given the most funny lines, but it doesn’t feel too organic, because it tries to recreate the magic of those characters with half as convincing lines. The entire subplot around the Shehnai player was particularly jarring for me. Mithila Palkar is fresh and energetic, but gets the most sketchily written character of the film and can only do so much. Hence the one who stands out the most and practically owns the film is the brilliantly restrained and very charming Dulquer Salmaan in his hindi film debut. He pretty much covers the entire canvas of emotions and conveys the most by saying the least. He thrives in being ordinary and lost in the crowd. Him rediscovering some of the long lost bonds, whether its with his father in a misunderstood relationship, an old flame (a charming Kriti Kharbanda in a sweet cameo), or an unfulfilled passion, hence become the most scenic and lively moments that we capture along the way.
Overall then, though far from being a bad film, Karwaan basically leaves one unsatisfied and wanting for a much smoother and a more enjoyable journey! The detour it takes makes it a long drive to explore and search for our suppressed selfs, but doesn’t necessarily make it a very memorable trip!