Let's accept the fact that a concept like this instinctively generates curiosity in the film. But the real test is to make the story work in those 2 hours. Also - this is vital - the identity of the caller should come as a jolt when the film concludes. Karthik Calling Karthik works in parts, but during the penultimate part, when the story shifts from Mumbai to Kerala, the sand castle, so beautifully built by debutante director Vijay Lalwani, gets washed away.
One doesn't want to challenge the behavioural patterns of a person with a certain disorder, but when it comes to the big screen, when you are narrating a story on celluloid, you need to do a lot of spoon-feeding and make it look convincing. In this case, unfortunately, the finale is just not convincing and therefore, acts as a spoilsport.
Meet Karthik [Farhan Akhtar], an introvert by nature and shy by choice. Karthik suffers with huge confidence issues and is miserable at his average job that yields less than average results. His boss [Ram Kapoor] treats him like dirt. Shonali [Deepika Padukone], his colleague, who he secretly loves, doesn't even know that he exists. Karthik is a loser. He knows it. He accepts it.
Suddenly, one night, the phone rings. And Karthik speaks to someone he never thought he would. He speaks to a man who also claims to be Karthik. The man on the phone says he's here to change Karthik's life. Karthik accepts the phone in his life and soon it becomes his guide, his mentor, his friend, his guardian.
Karthik Calling Karthik is a love story as also a suspense fare that teases your mind. Any love story works if the chemistry and also the moments between the on-screen lovers looks real and the chemistry between Farhan and Deepika works well.
Correspondingly, a suspense film works if the viewer keeps guessing what the culmination to the story would be. The mystery only deepens when not only Karthik, but also his girlfriend and psychiatrist are engulfed in this storm. All hell breaks loose when Karthik's life goes upside down and Karthik is back to square one. But from this point onwards, the graph of the film only goes downwards.
Debutante director Vijay Lalwani knows his job well, but he's letdown by his own writing. The second hour not only looks stretched [two songs flow one after the other, with the story coming to a grinding halt], but the pace also gets excruciatingly slow at this juncture. The climax, as mentioned earlier, is a complete downer.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's musical score is an asset. The film has some lilting tunes. Cinematography [Sanu John Varughese] is perfect. Dialogues are simple mostly and at times, very witty.
This is Farhan Akhtar's third film as an actor and it must be said that he takes giant strides when it comes to acting. The story throws several challenges at him and fortunately, he emerges trumps in the most difficult moments. This is, by far, his best work.
Deepika Padukone looks bewitching and acts natural throughout. Ram Kapoor is fantastic. Why don't we see him so frequently on the big screen? Shifaali Shah is excellent. Vivan Bhatena is good. Tarana, Vipin Sharma and Yatin Karyekar are serviceable.
On the whole, Karthik Calling Karthik is a decent product with an unconvincing conclusion. Watch it for the wonderful performances of Farhan and Deepika, if you have to. Caters to the youth in metros mainly.
Story first published: Friday, February 26, 2010, 10:37 [IST]