One van. Two swapped dead bodies. Three quirky unique travelers. Loads of twists, turns, and adventures. These ingredients – and many more – characterize director Akarsh Khurana’s latest flick Karwaan. Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan), a reserved, socially awkward, software engineer working at an IT company, suddenly hears about the death of his father and goes with his friend Shaukat (Irrfan) to retrieve the body, which was mistakenly sent to someone else. Along the way, they are joined on their road trip by Tanya (Mithila Palkar), a talkative teenager whose grandmother passed away in the same accident as Avinash’s father. Though the trio travel together reluctantly, their journey is filled with deep insights and life lessons.
Death and loss are underlying existential themes stringing the narratives of these characters together. Avinash and Tanya cope with the loss of a family member in very different ways, but in the process, they begin to develop self-awareness that may not have existed in their lives before. Accepting and coming to terms with the complexity of humanity by the characters in the film is beautiful, particularly when Avinash sits with his confusion and uncertainty as he reflects on whether his father was a good man. Needless to say, there is a degree of trauma in each character’s life, and the moments of vulnerability and connection among them all is truly heartwarming.
Despite the fact that this film touches on heavy subjects, it is still a comedy with many funny moments. Hussain Dalal’s dialogues – especially Shaukat’s blunt one-liners – are to die for, and Irrfan effortless delivers these punch lines as the kind-hearted, conservative, and loyal Shaukat. Just as much as this movie is about death and uncertainty, it is also about the friendship and companionship that can accompany a shared experience of confusion and loss. While the characterization of Avinash as a software engineer who hates his job and wants to pursue a creative career is cliched, his journey of self-discovery is depicted in subtle and strong ways throughout the film.
After conquering Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu, South Indian superstar Dulquer Salmaan finally makes an entry into the Hindi film industry and how! The seasoned actor shines as a reluctant IT guy and passionate photographer in this debut, much of which is coincidentally filmed in Kerala and other parts of South India. Irrfan has carved a niche for himself in Bollywood and beyond, and his portrayal of Shaukat fits the actor’s characteristic style of casual and natural. Mithila Palkar has a cute charm and charisma as a rebellious Gen Z teen who forms an unlikely bond and friendship with her traveling companions. The cinematography by Avinash Arun is gorgeous, highlighting the picturesque greenery of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Shoutout to Kriti Kharbanda for her special appearance as a special friend from the past.
Final Verdict: Karwaan is a deep, thoughtful, and funny film where the characters and viewers are taken on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, adventures, and experiences. A relatively short and realistic flick, Karwaan is a journey worth remembering and watching more than once!