A road trip movie should either be breezy fun, an introspective discovery of oneself, or downright hilarious. Karwaan is smart enough to merge all three worlds on a journey you’d love to take with its lead characters. It may not be a Dil Chahta Hai or a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara among similar Bollywood efforts, but it comes close enough, and that still makes it a darn good film.
Dulquer Salmaan, who plays Avinash – a dejected everyday guy who’s stuck in a dead-end job and has always shared a discordant relationship with his father – embarks unwillingly on a road trip from Bangalore to Kochi, when his father passed away, with his friend Shaukat (Irrfan Khan) in tow. Along the way, they meet the spunky Tanya (Mithila Palkar), who joins them on their journey.
The most heartfelt aspect of Karwaan is what lies at its core – that sometimes the only way to rediscover yourself, and reconnect with whatever and whomever you’ve severed ties with, is by you losing yourself completely and beginning from scratch again. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you have companions who infuse your discovery with loads of quirkiness, and never allow you to introspective without a witty quip or silly joke for your thought. It’s here where writer-Director Akarsh Khurana shines big time, assuredly switching between giving the audience something to ponder and also frequently tickling their funny bone, helped in no small measure by Hussain Dalal’s dialogues.
That doesn’t mean the film is flawless, with the major drawbacks coming in the form of editor Ajay Sharma’s lengthy cuts and a stretched second half. Just because one’s making a Hindi film, it doesn’t mean you have to, somehow or another, clock a 2-hour+ runtime. Karwaan would have been just as enjoyable, or maybe more so, had it been 15-20 minutes shorter. Also, as confident as Dulquer is in his Bollywood debut (even his Hindi accent and diction flows freely), and as rustically charming as Irrfan always is, Mithali seems a little lost between her two senior pros at times. Even if you give her the benefit of the doubt of being saddled with the weaker part among the three main characters in the film, it can’t be ignored that the internet darling will take some time before she finds her footing in commercial Hindi cinema. But as long as you have Irrfan’s mastery at deadpan humor on display and Dulquer’s effortlessness at making simplistic characters look impossibly endearing, you gleefully tag along for the entire length of this road trip.
Barring a few bumps on the way, by the time Karwaan reaches its destination, you end up feeling quite satisfied with the breeziness of the trip, and enjoy all the quirks and humorous exchanges between its passengers.
Movified Rating: 3.5/5b