Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala & Priti Rathi Gupta
Directed by: Akarsh Khurana
Written by: Bejoy Nambiar, Akarsh Khurana, Adhir Bhat & Hussain Dalal
Music: Prateek Kuhad, Anurag Saikia, Slowcheetah, Shwetang Shankar & Imaad Shah
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Dulquer Salman, Mithila Palkar, Akash Khurana, Amala Akkineni Sp. App.: Kriti Kharbanda & Beena
MUMBAI—The premise is not exactly bright in tenor: a rather autocratic father (Akash Khurana) and the passenger next to him, a progressive and talkative grandmother (Beena), in a bus going on a pilgrimage, are killed when there is an accident. The film then shifts perspective to the man’s son, Avinash (Dulquer), who is unhappy in a routine job into which he was literally coerced by his father.
A call announces to him that his father is dead and the body will be flown at the tourist company’s expense the next day. Avinash takes the help of his friend Shaukat (Irrfan Khan), a garage owner, for his van, to pick up the coffin from the airport. They even reach the crematorium, only to discover that it contains a woman’s body.
The airport authority gives Avinash the number of the dead woman’s daughter Tahira (Amala Akkineni), who has, due to this blunder, received his father’s remains instead, and she lives in Kochi in Kerala, while Avinash is Bangalore-based! Tahira requests him to pick up her daughter Tanya (Mithila Palkar) from the Ooty college in which she studies on the way to Kochi as she cannot come to Bangalore. From here begins the journey with the body, and in the process, with all the issues they face, Shaukat, Avinash, and the rebellious teen Tanya finally find the right balance in their discontented lives and make peace with their inner demons.
The screenplay moves rapidly in the first hour of this 120-minute film, but in the second half, albeit unavoidably, things become a little slow and a shade too saccharine. The sequence of the college flame is well-conceived and executed, as are the dramatic twists to Shaukat’s love story, but the clichéd remark in the end by Tanya on her open way of living is not very convincing.
Despite these relatively minor glitches, this road movie offers a heartwarming ride for the most part, and some of the lyrics (as in “Heartquake”) are interesting. Anurag Saikia does a decent job of the background score, and full marks are in order for the real-life Avinash – DOP Arun. His cinematography is outstanding, and wherever he shoots, India looks plain gorgeous.
Hussain Dadal’s lines work big time, though we feel it is really an odd coincidence that a lead artiste slaps his father to protect his mother – the hero of “2 States,” for which Dalal had also penned the dialogues, did the same!
The sync sound (since we happen to know it is there) helps in making things real, and the director is in deft command overall. The opening chat between the two seniors is quirkily funny, and among the hilarious sequences are Shaukat’s romantic ardor in the hospital, and the sequence wherein Tanya asks Avinash about Shaukat, “Is this guy for real?”
Irrfan Khan is a delight, and I am blunt enough to state that it is after years that we are watching him BECOME the character he plays and not remain yet another variation of Irrfan, the actor. Dulquer Salmaan is confident and right for his role, making an impressive if low-key debut in Hindi. Mithila is just alright, as is Amala. In their brief cameos, Akash Khurana and Beena shine, as does the veteran actor who plays the airport authority handling the consignments that come in. Kriti Kharbanda is fabulous in her cameo. The others do not have anything to do.