April issue 2010
A Phone-y Thriller
As with a lot of recent Indian movies, Karthik Calling Karthik attempts to explore a theme that goes beyond just love and its associated complications. Debutant director Vijay Lalwani has, for the most part, created a compelling movie that hosts an intriguing mix of love, drama, suspense and irony.
Karthik (Farhan Akhtar) is a meek and introverted guy, who shies away from calling any attention to himself and lives his life in solemn recluse. He is haunted by childhood nightmares of his bullying older brother drowning in a well, which Karthik blames himself for. Never having forgiven himself, he grows up to be a vulnerable and insecure adult, accepting a mediocre job despite his high intelligence levels. Shonali (Deepika Padukone) is his long-term crush, with whom he has had but one fleeting exchange in the years that they’ve been working in the same office. She barely acknowledges his existence, whereas he writes her unsent emails, professing his love and raving about her beauty, on a daily basis. His boss is played by Ram Kapoor, an egotistical and corrupt owner of an architecture firm, who constantly takes advantage of Karthik’s timidity.
One day, fed up of his ungrateful boss and purposeless life, Karthik decides to end it all — until he is interrupted by a fateful, life-changing phone call. The caller claims to be Karthik himself, but ironically a more successful version, who insists he can help Karthik put his life back together with his motivation and guidance. A few pep talks and a slight makeover later, Karthik is geared to tackle his life with a new attitude. Landing a smooth promotion at the same firm he got fired from, and finally being noticed by the love of his life, everything seems to be perfect thanks to the routine phone calls he gets every day at 5 a.m. from his better self.
Just as we think the movie is about to get cheesy and typical, our curiosity is tapped when Karthik finds himself in a situation where his therapist (Shefali Shah) and now fiancÃ©e, Shonali, start questioning who this other Karthik actually is. Suddenly, as with all good thriller movies, we are thrown into a sequence of dramatic scenes that reveal the plot. However, the thrilling plot suddenly begins to derail in the last 20 minutes of the film, as the suspense subsides and makes way for a predictable climax. The movie promises huge potential, but the lack of an impactful knockout punch proves to be a slight let down. Still, the movie’s hummable tunes and impressive cinematography make for a great watch for anyone looking for edgy entertainment.