Karthik Calling Karthik


Actors: Farhan AkhtarDeepika Padukone
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 3.5/5

This is a suspenseful story about Karthik Narayan, who is a timid individual working in Mumbai for a construction firm. Karthik lives alone and does not have life beyond work. Karthik is a hard worker (as is portrayed), but does not claim any credit for the duties oaf his co-workers that which he takes on without being able to say no.  In the eyes of his boss he’s a worthless dud. Not being able to say no is only one of his many shortcomings. Karthik manages to stay holed up in his office cube all day, complete all work thrusted upon him and go back home to stare at his television before hitting the sack. Karthik does not have any friends and his non-work related excitement in life is the office Architect, Shonali. He seeks counseling from a shrink to improve his life, but the sessions are not fruitful.Karthik’s life changes through a phone call he receives on his birthday from a person, also called Karthik (‘K2’ for purpose of this review). K2 sounds like Karthik, knows Karthik in and out and continues to call Karthik at 5am every day. K2 counsels Karthik, makes him wordly-wise and worldly-wise. Karthik forms a bond with K2 although they never meet and the counseling sessions are only on the phone. Karthik soon becomes a confident individual, gets a grip on life and manages a promotion at work. Shonali takes notice, and they eventually fall in love. Karthik eventually reveals his little secret to Shonali against K2’s interests; she does not buy the story and asks Karthik to get treated by a shrink. Karthik manages to prove to the shrink and Shonali that the calls do come at 5am. K2 does not like that the secret is out, and takes control to spoil it all for Karthik who goes into hiding. The rest of the story is about how Karthik comes back to being himself and revealing the identity of K2.

PERFORMANCES:
Farhan Akhtar has shown great maturity in acting right from his first movie as an actor, Rock On, where he shared screen space with multiple actors. In this flick, Karthik shuttles between 2 mental modes – shy, frightened and recluse to being a confident, happy character. Farhan as Karthik is brilliant and he makes the movie look like a one-man-show. Farhan as the shy Karthik generally has a straight face and is often confused about why he is being a pushover. He has a lot of screen time being the protagonist. He has used his husky voice, and his looks – short hair, spectacled face well to act out the shy Karthik. The 5am phone call scenes are amazingly done, especially after K2 and Karthik fall apart and K2 turns to threatening and being negative. Farhan as the confident Karthik is not as impressionable as the sad and frightened Karthik. Farhan has made a conscious effort to not overdo the happy Karthik bit, so it’s easier for the viewer to understand the behavioural change of Karthik’s role. His emotions are well-rendered through his eyes and this is Farhan’s plus point, even in movies to come. Farhan looks stylish after the transformation (loses spects too) and his language is generally urban. As such, Farhan has decent chemistry with Deepika Padukone (playing Shonali). He’s been able to portray intimacy, flirting and physical proximity without any  awkwardness.

Deepika as Shonali is alright. IMHO though, Deepika as Shonali is not indispensable. Within the realms of the subject, Shonali is a glam doll and that’s that. Deepika with her sense of style, dressing, and body language plays a confident Architect who’s newly out of a relationship and is trying to make a long-term commitment to Karthik. Deepika was expected to look good, and…period. The role does not require her to add weight to the storyline, except create a turning point after she’s flabbergasted with Karthik, when he reveals about his phone-counselor, K2. She has played Shonali’s part to perfection though, by being a flirtatious single and uptown girl newly in love, one who’s not conservative about getting intimate with a new guy friend. Deepika hasn’t done a ‘news-reader’ this time, she’s more into the role and her diction does see some improvement. She’s a fine add to the movie and adds adds the ‘sexy’ quotient to this  thriller.

DIRECTION & SCREENPLAY:

Given the genre, it’s not the type of story which ambushes the viewer with facts never revealed until the fag end. The ‘clues’ are right there, the viewer just needs to stretch their brain muscles a bit more as and how the story progresses by constantly evaluating the cumulative set of events. If you have seen a lot of Bollywood cinema, you have all tools you need to analyze the movie right from the word go. But Vijay Lalwani, the director and has developed the plot well and the revelations/turning points in the script are timed well. The best part of this project is the background work of direction, screenplay and editing. The treatment is intelligent in that nothing is very obvious for the viewer. For most part of the story the viewer may not see the missing piece. It takes careful observation because the information is made available subtly. The development of Karthik’s character was very important for the viewer to think on line of what-would-Karthik-do. Scenes like Karthik losing his elder brother as a child, his counseling sessions with the shrink, and phone calls with K2 add right amounts of thrill. There are really no viewers-don’t-digest moments and the editing has been done in a way to logically prove K2’s presence and intentions. The Rublik’s cube has been used well – incomplete cube for scenes where Karthik is all undone, and somewhat patterned correctly when his life is under better control.Cinematography by Sanu Varghese is alright. Scenes with phone calls, counseling sessions with the shrink, Karthik in deep thoughts, are some crucial sequences with focus on conversations than the set-up or personalities. One significant thing throughout is the dim lighting, probably to dramatize scenes more. The sets used, in general are practically designed and not overdone. Most of the visuals probably are live locations. Again, the movie is absolutely about Karthik’s intrigue than any other person or thing.

MUSIC: 

Songs are by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and the album is a good mix of dance/romantic numbers like Uff teri Ada and Hey Ya. The latter is an amazing composition and the tune runs in the background quite a bit. Lyrics by Javed Akhtar are very urban too! The songs as such don’t propel the storyline. They are picturized well but the videos are not loud by any means. The background score by Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale is commendable. The montage, the pauses or the KCK theme, all add up to get the viewer hooked onto the suspense. Scenes meaning to throw off the viewer have great background compositions in form of electronic jazz, guitar; Eg.K2’s call while the shrink or Deepika are at Karthik’s apartment or when Karthik sets out of Mumbai to begin another life. Kudos to the new folks.

WHY 3.5:The suspense unravels slowly but comes all-too-easy to the viewer at the end, in the manner of deliberating around Karthik’s nature. It would have helped to throw off the viewer a bit by encompassing some superfluous characters or distracting events. Focus on Farhan Akhtar is a lot, but could have been avoided. Even otherwise, the viewer does not mind the plot. In any case, the movie is sensibly made. The flick loses 1.5 points because the script is not extraordinary, neither is the treatment which I was expecting. If I were given one thing to change about the movie in a minute, I would change the name. Farhan Akhtar, Direction and Editing are the USP-in-toto. Watch if you like drama, or even plain Bollywood.                                                                            

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