Karwaan is about Avinaash and his friends. It is about happiness, and living your life to get that happiness. Malayali heart-throb Dulquer Salman (you might have seen him in OK Kanmani) plays straight-laced Avinash, who’s given up his passion for photography and is now tied to his desk doing the old 9-to-5. When a family emergency requires a road trip, Avinaash borrows friend Shaukat’s (Irrfan Khan) van, and sets out. Shaukat joins him. On the way, they pick up another passenger, college-kid K. The journey takes many detours, is adventuresome, but reaches a good destination.
The film is not unpredictable. We start off with a bit of a cliche, the young man railroaded into a “good” career by his family at the cost of a personal passion. We know there’s going to be a resolution to that, we just don’t know how. Because this is Avinash’s film, his life, his career, his personal situation is front and center. But Avinash’s friend Shaukat is also an interesting character, and some time is devoted to his adventures and personal problems.
Feel-good films about life and happiness are hard to make, because higher emotions like kindness, goodness and altruism are hard to define and even harder to portray meaningfully on screen. Karwaan succeeds because it shows us Avinaash’s journey from the desk-bound, resentful young man to a more-at-peace, free, individual. And it does this delicately, spinning up believable characters who come into his life and have a benevolent influence. There is humor and a reflection on realistic day-to-day quandaries. As the journey progresses, we watch Avinaash evolve in his thinking, mature, give up his anger and gain an acceptance and an understanding that brings him calm. That is a beautiful thing to see.
I was a little doubtful when I first read of Dulquer Salman portraying average joe Avinaash, because his non-Hindi films are a little bombastic, where his roles have flamboyant personalities. Surprisingly with a normal hair-cut, glasses and a computer bag swung over a shoulder Salman transforms into quite the nerd. He also does a decent job of the acting. Irfan needs no introduction; his Shayiri-spouting, eccentric Shaukat brings humor and a light-hearted charm to this film. Mithila Palkar as the impetuous Tanya is also quite a good. The surprise here is seeing lovely yesteryear South Indian actress Amala playing Tanya’s mom Tahira; she is just the woman to bring this graceful role to life.
Karwaan’s lovely soundtrack emphasizes the film’s tender-hearted tale. While it is a little slow-paced, the film left me with a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. I look forward to director Khurana’s future ventures.