3.5 Very Good

Karthik Calling Karthik

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 of 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, ‘teaches’ him ways of the world and makes him wordly wise. Karthik 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 which. 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.

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. He’s easily a one-man-show in the movie. 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. 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 Karthik who’s sad and afraid. Although, Farhan has not overdone the happy Karthik bit, and it’s easier for the viewer to understand the behavioural change. His emotions are very well-emoted through his eyes and this is Farhan’s plus point, even in movies to come. Farhan has dressed up well and the language is urban. As such, Farhan has decent chemistry with Deepika Padukone (playing Shonali).
Deepika as Shonali is alright. IMHO, 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 with Karthik. Deepika was expected to look good, and…period. The role does not require her to add weight to the story along, except the turning point where she’s flabbergasted with Karthik revealing about his phone-counselor, K2. Overall, she adds the ‘sexy’ quotient to the movie by adding the oomph factor and being a flirtatious single, uptown girl newly in love and who’s not conservative about getting intimate with a new guy friend. Deepika hasn’t done a ‘news-reporter’ this time and her diction does see some improvement.

The suspense unravels well but comes all-too-easy to the viewer at the end. 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. The viewer does not mind otherwise given the plot, but in any case, the movie is sensibly made. The flick loses points because the script is not extraordinary, neither is the treatment. Farhan Akhtar, Direction and Editing are the USP-in-toto. Watch if you like drama, or even plain Bollywood.