Road to rediscovery

Daniyal Zahid believes each of the three lead actors puts on a masterful display in 'Karwaan'

Road to rediscovery
In many ways Karwaan is a stop-start journey, wherein a lot is happening but without a coherent storyline – just like life itself. Similarly, the film is the latest in a string of the travel self-discovery genre that Bollywood seems to have cozied up to of late – but arguably more unconventional.

The film is cliched, but simultaneously argues the same for life itself. Once the credits role you’d think how many of the subplots were completely pointless, and that in itself is the film’s tribute to both hindsight and one’s existence in the moment. For, the significance of any point in given time can only be gauged after it has passed.

Karwaan, therefore, is a continuum of such moments, which are the raison d’etre of a road trip to be strung together as one narrative, when they could just as easily have been found in parallel dimensions.

Two friends Avinash Rajpurohit (Dulquer Salmaan) and Shaukat (Irrfan Khan) travel to Kochi from Bengaluru after the former’s father passed away. Avinash, who is living the stereotypical meaningless work life doing a dead-end job, has always blamed his father what having forced the unwanted life on him. But now with the passing away of his father, he traverses a path of self-discovery that ends up giving him a new perspective on life, companionship and most of all himself.

Shaukat, who works at a garage, brings the van that the two of them would board in this journey, where they are also joined by Tanya (Mithila Palkar). Tanya, too, has had to endure a family death, and is hence in the same boat – or van in this particular case. What links the two deaths is for you to find, when you watch the film!

There are three people and two dead bodies, but the only mystery here is each individual character, which unravels as the van clocks up the miles.

The unconventional storytelling in Karwaan might not suit everyone’s tastes. But what few will fail to enjoy is the masterful acting display put on by each of the three actors.

With Irrfan Khan, it is always hard to discern which part of his character was created by the writers and which one has been filled up by his own persona. But what is never in doubt is the sheer brilliance that once takes for granted with him. And in Shaukat, Irrfan plays one of his greatest roles and pulls of an absolutely masterclass of acting.

Considering the plot, the character and, of course, the unparalleled prowess of the actor himself, the film has a one-man show written all over it. That this is not what Karwaan turns out to be is a testament to his co-actors, especially Dulquer.

Already a superstar in the South, the Malayalam actor is completely solid on his ground in his Bollywood debut. His depiction of Avinash and all the contrasting emotions he goes through is top notch. And just like Irrfan, Dulquer’s strength lies in keeping things simple, and completely devouring himself in the character. It’s safe to say that Bollywood would continue to see him in the future.

Mithila Palkar

Mithila Palkar, who featured in the Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan starrer Katti Batti, has grown since then as well, and her performance in Karwaan should mean more meaningful roles for her in the coming years as well.

Akarsh Khurana’s direction, similar to his lyrics in top soundtrack, is deep and provides the vehicle for his caravan to take off – where his three passengers are given all the room that their characters demand, with everything else taking the backseat.

The regional and communal undertones also provide varying lenses with which to look at Karwaan and the many interpretations of it that can ensure. And if these descriptions fall to your liking, there’s more than a fair chance that you could end up watching the film more than just the once – just for a retake of the journey wherein the characters rediscover themselves.