Any road trip movie across Bollywood and Hollywood uses the serene vista through which the characters travel as an element to braid together sequences, characters and landscape into one effortless narrative. Hollywood regularly produces good Road trip movies like Little Miss Sunshine, The Motorcycle Diaries, Rain Man and even Zombieland. Each movie is an exercise in finding common perspective, self-realization and most importantly, having each other’s back. Even in Bollywood we have seen movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Chahta Hain and even Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge serve us with cutesy romantic escapades, confronting inner pandemonium and letting the hair loose for a few days. Karwaan is a fresh new entrant in that elite list.
Remember those halcyon early monsoon mornings when you and your friends woke up at dawn and went together on bikes in search of solace or to answer the ‘call of the mountains’? Karwaan is a similar journey through the picturesque Bangalore- Ooty- Coimbatore road, albeit with characters who are not siblings or friends, but three complete misfits. They land up together due to fate and must help each other out of common human courtesy. It is a story beset with quirky exchanges, quaint sequences replete with humour and an overall feel-good factor which gives the audience the positive vibe to look to their side and mentally plan a similar trip with their loved ones.
Dulquer Salmaan as Avinash is the right amount of brooding, thoughtful yet repressed IT employee who writes codes in the morning and dreams about being a photographer by night. He has a troubled relation with his disapproving father who crushes his passion to make him fail-safe in life. Mithila Palkar as Tanya plays the rebellious post-teen girl who may have a hundred filters for her pictures on Snapchat, but does not have any to hide her angst in real life. And the travelling troika is completed by the effervescent Irrfan Khan who is, and I know this is clichéd, a revelation in the film with all his histrionics and one-liners. Props to the writers Bejoy Nambiar and Hussain Dalal for painting each character as distinct as possible, yet keeping humanity and goodness as the binding force which takes them through the journey. This is Dulquer’s first Bollywood movie, yet the maturity with which he plays the character and commands the screen is something which many first timers lack. His character does not get to shine with dialogues like Irrfan’s does, but if you squint to understand deeply, his character has shades. He works with the mundane and makes it endearing. His character is something which many of us will relate to, yet no one will get bored seeing him on screen.
The movie is a celebration of everything we have grown to love about Irrfan. He seems to be having a parallel arc to the main script and can be considered for a spin-off, such is the charm he brings to the role of Shaukat, which, in hindsight is not too dissimilar to his role in Qarib Qarib Singlle . As the movie ends, we cannot but hope to see Irrfan back to his healthy self and entertain us like only he is equipped to do.
The humour in the movie is a culmination of one-liners and sequences. While death seems to be the common thread, the characters still find mirth in their respective tribulations. Director Akarsh Khurana knows how to keep the audience engaged. As a story, it does not have much layers but it does not need to. Karwaan is a simple character driven movie about self realisation and camaraderie which may not have a climax, but is rich with substance. The movie meanders in parts when it touches upon Avinash’s college romance or Shaukat’s (Irrfan) issues with a local goon. But they never divert much. The editing is crisp and with a soothing background music you will never care for time.
Karwaan is the kind of movie which is made solely for the purpose of making the audience smile with a sprinkling of life sermons put in the most discrete manner so that it touches the heart and the intellect too.