It feels like a journey called life but mostly on roads. Yes! Karawan is that coffee which may not taste splendid in the first sip but the taste stays with you for a long time. By now you may have heard several great reviews about the performances of the lead cast but to me, it works for many other reasons including performances. One of the most important reason is the three-layered story telling. The people who know the craft of telling a story on the cinema screen, Knows the fact that it is always told three times before it comes to the audience. Though most of us know only one of it. But I guess after this write up I will try to make you agree with my viewpoint. In Karawan all three layers merged so effortlessly that you can’t differentiate who has contributed to what? So let’s start with the first layer.
1. Writing on Paper- Many of us believe that sitting in a room with your laptop is an easy task but as I have come across many writers and believe me it is equally tougher if not less than any other part of filmmaking. Though it doesn’t look that difficult when Akarsh Khurrana and Adhir Bhatt writes a screenplay for Bejoy Nambiar’s story. They don’t force you to like there characters from the start. A man who is not looking affected by his father’s death. A teenager who is drinking and flirting even when her grandmother lying dead in a coffin and a narrow-minded religious extremist. Yet eventually by the end of the story, you start to care for them and eventually fall for them. This is pretty unconventional to do in Indian Cinema where writers are forced to make protagonists lovable even when there are organically not. Above than that is Hussain Dalaal’s dialogues. Except at certain places where Irfan Khan’s character delivers some really out of context yet extremely funny punches, none of the dialogues are written which doesn’t belong to this world. At a certain place Irfan’s Character who was reading Shayaris from mobile phone leave it all of a sudden and says something which comes to him naturally and then also says that yeh to Dil Ki Baat Hai. That’s how the writing of Karawan is. It is written without any “Filter” ( you will get the context once you watch the second half of the movie).
2. Story Telling through Visuals – What is written on paper is often perfect in a writer’s vision. The things that can go wrong, the factors which not in control in the first step of visual storytelling are very limited and whereas the things that can go wrong while executing it are limitless and still if the product is a satisfying watch then it should be appreciated. It’s difficult to imagine that this is Akarsh Khurrana’s only second feature film as a director. His first film “High Jack” was a nightmare to the people having claustrophobia where he used inside of a plane for the major length of his screen time. But here he comes out and like a pro. He picked up the location which pretty less explored in Hindi Films – Yes! Kerala! Well if you are thinking that we have seen backwaters of Kerala many a time then I would like to add that Kerala is way more than that and without indulging in the scenic beauty of Kerala, Akarsh and Masaan and Killa Fame cinematographer Avinash Arun tries to capture the feel of the place. In “God’s own country” three lost souls trying to figure out life in its true sense and life is not on tourist places but may be at a small unimportant bridge where Akarsh and Avinash chose to tell a very important scene regarding the common thread of the three characters. One can face Life lessons in a hospital or on roads going to somewhere or nowhere. From an IT Company’s office to a small restaurant in Kerala, the choice of space is subtle and hence beautiful without beating louder drums.
3. The retelling of a story through Edit – Very few cinema lovers understand the importance of the art of editing. We all must have heard that the best edit is the edit which is almost invisible. But what does it exactly means? It means that an editor should be a person who acts like Mr. India and rethink the whole story after looking at the footage in a manner so that the story gains some unexplored meanings and layers. Is it possible through edit? Yes, I would like to believe so. Karavan could have been a film which just runs from one set of the event to other and no one would have complained about that because that’s what most of the editing is happening these days. But No! It has its own pace and hence the editor Ajay Sharma should be applauded. His last work Jagga Jasoos and Karawan both look like as if both have been edited by two different persons. Where in Jagga was blamed with a tag of “lengthy watch” Karwaan finishes under 2 hours. In Jagga he used fancy transitions and followed the musical beats, over here in Karawan he followed the beats of the story and never used any gimmicky transitions or cuts. I am sure that you can feel the up and downs of the pace graph when the editor chose to stop for a moment and let the audience feel the moment instead of rushing it up. Eg- In the very end of the movie when the journey finishes, there is a shot when Dulquer’s character gets inside the lift of his building once again and this time he is alone and then the smiles. Without giving spoiler I just want to say that the choice of the length of that shot makes you realize the presence of the previous lift shot and you feel that story comes to a beautiful closure. These minute things are multiple but still never comes too hard on you and remains subtle.
I can talk about performances also but that’s altogether a different set where again I would have appreciated the subtleness of even small cameos (Special Mention to Kirti Kharbanda, she is just amazing in such a small screen time) and the leads. But for now, I would like end on the note that Karawan is just a beautiful example of three-layered storytelling which rare but should not be that rare!
Writer from Bhopal. Theatre Director and Co- Founder of Dream Stage Theatre along with Scriptors. Shy Actor performs rarely.
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