In Akarsh Khurana’s upcoming film Karwaan, a mix-up in the last remains of Avinash’s deceased father results in a road trip across southern India. Malayalam movie star Dulquer Salmaan makes his Hindi debut as Avinash, who is saddled with two eccentric characters: an irate driver (Irrfan) and a brooding teenager (Mithila Palkar).
There’s more to the journey than meets the eye, Khurana told Scroll.in. Also starring Kriti Kharbanda and Amala Akkineni, the film has been produced by RSVP Movies and will be released on August 3.
“It is a road movie with a spin and black comedy,” Khurana said. “The road movie is a genre that will never go out of style. Within that, it depends on how different it can be. Travel kind of ties this film together, but it is so much more.”
While Karwaan has been co-written by Khurana and Adhir Bhat with dialogue by Hussain Dalal, the director credits director Bejoy Nambiar with the story. “Bejoy had a story idea, basically of these dead bodies getting interchanged and a road trip stemming out of that,” Khurana said. “Adhir and I wrote the screenplay four years ago. Nothing was really happening with it. We had then narrated it to UTV at some point of time and the associate producer there, who had just joined Ronnie’s [Screwvala] new company, loved the script. It found its way into the right hands.”
Dulquer Salmaan, who has had a series of hits in Malayalam and also starred in Mani Ratnam’s Tamil movie O Kadhal Kanmani (2015), brings his considerable star presence to Karwaan. “My associate producer recommended Dulquer to me,” Khurana said. “I had only seen Charlie [Salmaan’s 2015 Malayalam film] at that point of time. I saw some more of his work and realised that he is a fantastic performer. So I went and met him in Chennai to narrate the film to him. He is a lovely guy.”
The film also stars web series breakout star Mithila Palkar as Tanya, a teenager who joins Salmaan on his road trip. Palkar, who has Marathi film Muramba (2017) to her credit, rose to fame through a string of popular web series, including Little Things (2016), Girl In The City (2016). Khurana revealed that the audition for Tanya’s part included a massive two-month search.
“When I was casting for the girl’s part, I was clear that I did not want a stereotypical teenager who is bubbly and particularly goth,” he explained. “I wanted someone real. Your average 19-year-old is a mature person who does not have to be only hashtags and LOLs.”
As for Irrfan, the actor’s nod for playing the part was reason enough to make the film, Khurana said. “He is a legend and it is a blessing to have him on board,” Khurana said. “If he is kind of sinking his teeth into a character, you know he is going to make something special out of it. Ronnie was the one who suggested Irrfan. He heard the script and really liked it. He was shooting Hindi Medium at that time.”
The trio’s biggest asset was their geniality, Khurana said. “The three of them are really comfortable in their own skin and are not afraid of being that,” he added. “When you are going to throw three different characters into a situation like this, the more different they are, the nicer it will be to see them react differently. Having said that, they [the characters] do find a kind of camaraderie and similarity at the end of the film. That is the interesting part.”
Khurana is a well-known name in the Mumbai theatre scene. He has produced and directed various plays through his company Akvarious Productions. He has written Hindi films, including Krrish (2006), Krrish 3 (2013) and Kites (2010), and made his directorial debut with the stoner comedy High Jack, starring Sumeet Vyas, earlier this year.
Khurana has also written for the web. His writing credits include TVF Tripling (2016). Following a few special appearances in films, Khurana will next feature as a middle-aged parent from the 1990s in TVF series Yeh Meri Family. “The web platform certainly gives you more breathing space and a room to explore options,” Khurana said. “You can round of characters more because you are not limited by the 120-minute mark.”