After starring in almost 25 films in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu, Dulquer Salmaan (DQ) sneaks into Bollywood for the first time with Karwaan. This film is written by Bejoy Nambiar (of Solo fame), directed by Akarsh Khurana, and stars Irrfan Khan and Mithila Palkar in the lead roles along with DQ. Amala Akkineni and Kriti Kharbanda make special appearances in this road-trip dramedy.
Avinash, an IT employee with "old-school characteristics", a culture-fearing Shaukat and Tanya the archetypal Gen-Y represent are brought together by a corpse. Well, the corpse is brought to them by an interesting incident that requires them to deliver it to another city. This plot gives room for a road trip, which in-turn gives space for a lot of drama. Read ahead to find out how well this works.
DQ's performance is synonymous with 'effortlessly charming' because he literally doesn't have to exert much to do justice to this character. He fits like a bill, and nails the language (Hindi). He gets more space in terms of characterization as it involves a dysfunctional relationship with his father and a tad bit of self-discovery. Dulquer fills up this space given to him with a convincing screen presence. Mithila Palkar plays Tanya, the college girl who is the opposite of Avinash. She represents a generation of youngsters who define today's world. She drinks, smokes and doesn't fear the talk of sex. As a matter of fact, she prefers an open conversation! Her influence on Avinash turns out to be beneficial for the latter. We also have Irrfan as Shaukat, who we might feel is a misfit in terms of what is required to run this story forward, but essentially is the one who helps us hold on to our seats. Shaukat is rooted and girls in shorts give him a culture shock! He is immensely witty, but unintentionally. However, he turns out to be the show-stealer!
There is loads of dark humor sprinkled at the base of this script. It makes us feel like it is stuck between trying to be unconventional, and actually being it. But what works is Irrfan's presence as a comic relief. There seem to be many sub-plots which might interest you on paper. But the execution takes a backseat and comes off as draggy. A conflict arises in the beginning and it is addressed as the film runs towards the mid-point. Another conflict arises there, but the reasoning is a letdown, thereby protracting the screenplay.
We have Kriti Kharbanda who appears as Rumana (Rumi), and there's the inevitable reference to the renowned poet. She looks natural, but her placement in the screenplay feels forced. An endearing Amala emerges and retains her honor as a beautiful veteran. Anyone could her fit her part, but she somehow feels right.
The film is based in Bangalore, and the characters are traveling down south into Kerala. If not for the language spoken, one could be easily mistaken to be in a South Indian film. Hindi is what feels like a misfit in this movie. The visuals are pleasing and the music is smooth. There are just a couple of songs and one might feel that the second one could have been avoided. It may not irk you, but it definitely tests your patience.
To sum up, Karwaan is swell casting, and a good vibe let down by an interestingly imagined, yet, not so fascinating execution.