If I were to receive a call from someone claiming to be me, I would naturally freak out, or run to a shrink, or better, change my number, if not name. But Karthik (Farhan Akhtar) doesn’t do any of these. For he’s at the rock bottom of his life. Snubbed by everyone from his irate landlord to snooty boss (Ram Kapoor), Karthik, the under-confident, shy, withdrawn, bashful protagonist of Karthik Calling Karthik, lives a humdrum life at home, at office, and in between. He has a crush on his beautiful colleague Shonali (Deepika Padukone) but has no guts to tell her. In short, Karthik is a loser and he knows it all too well.
But then one phone call from a guy claiming to be Karthik changes his life. Obviously freaked out, like I would have, at first, the loser Karthik eventually takes the advice of the admonishing, superconfident Karthik who promises to change his life for better. As the underdog begins putting to practice the tips doled out every day by his Agony Twin on the other end of the line, he transforms from a cocooned loser to a confident lad, who dates the hottest chick in his office, gets promoted in job and rubs shoulders with the same boss who used to rub him the wrong way not long back.
And just when it seems that Karthik’s life couldn’t get any better, the weatherwane turns again to the original direction as Karthik’s mentor and guide begins to demolish everything he helped him create.
Though built upon an interesting premise, ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’ never really steams up into a taut, edge-of-the-seat thriller because of the somewhat laidback pace at which director Vijay Lalwani unravels the story. But then knowing well that it’s a film from the producer duo Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani (behind films like Rock On and Luck By Chance) one doesn’t expect the conventional. And unconventional KCK is to the extent of redefining the idiom of a thriller in Bollywood jargon. The movie trundles at a lingering pace and even the finale, when the suspense is unravelled, hits you not as a bolt but a gentle rap.
One may have misgivings about the way the film winds up, but it’s hard to not like Farhan Akhtar putting in an absolutely terrific performance as his character undergoes a transformation from a shy, retiring underdog to a suave winner. He’s certainly an actor to watch out for. But must say his chemistry with Deepika doesn’t really come through on the screen. Deepika, for all her beauty and understated charm, can’t really breath conviction into her character of a cigarette smoking, uptown girl who’s dated many a ‘jerks’ before finding her prince charming. Shifaali Shah as the shrink is okay. Ram Kapoor as the overbearing boss shines in a few scenes.
‘Karthik Calling Karthik’ isn’t the usual popcorn munching entertainer we’re used to seeing from Bollywood. It’s a slow, languid thriller with soothing tunes by Shankar Ehsaan Loy and snazzy cinematography by Sanu Verghese. Director Vijay Lalwani pens a story that’s gripping in parts but not in entirety.