Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Karthik Calling Karthik: Farhan saves this insipid thriller
Farhan Akhtar has now come to be associated with a particular kind of cinema – slick production values, quirky characters and smart writing. So when I went in to watch his latest production, “Karthik Calling Karthik”, I was expecting something similar. While I got to see the first two aspects, the third, and the most important was gravely missing.
The film, a thriller about a meek, submissive man called Karthik, whose life changes when he gets phone calls from an anonymous caller who also calls himself Karthik, starts off well, and is engaging enough, but for some bad writing and corny dialogues, which take away from the edge-of-the-seat thrill that a film like this should give you.
Akhtar plays Karthik Narayan, a mousy MBA grad who is bullied by pretty much everyone around him, including his tyrannical boss, and pesky landlord. He is secretly in love with Shonali Mukherjee (Deepika Padukone), who works in the same office, but is unable to muster up courage to talk to her, instead writing her an email everyday and then saving it in his drafts folder.
Fired from his job, and with no friends to turn to, Karthik is on the verge of suicide when one phone call changes everything. The caller always calls at 5 am and identifies himself as Karthik. He instils confidences in Karthik, exhorting him to set his life right. After the initial apprehension, Karthik actually looks forward to the calls, and egged on by the mysterious caller, sets about reclaiming his life.
The film is meant to be a thriller, but as I said before, there are hardly any edge-of -the seat moments. The narrative is a little bumpy and some of the dialogues are unintentionally funny. Director Vijay Lalwani sets out with a good enough intention, glimpses of which are visible throughout the film, but doesn’t quite reach the destination he intended. Also, the ending of the film is predictable, and I wish had been dealt with in a better way.
But watch this film for Farhan Akhtar, and his performance as Karthik. In some places he reminded me of Naseeruddin Shah in Sai Paranjpe’s “Katha”, where Shah plays a similar meek, submissive character. He carries the film even through its bumpy moments. Deepika Padukone tries her best and looks ravishing, but her acting still feels laboured.
This is a good one time watch at the movies, especially if you are a Farhan fan.