'Welcome 2 Karachi' review: A few funny moments makes it worthwhile!

'Welcome 2 Karachi' review: A few funny moments makes it worthwhile!

Sonia Chopra

Friday 29 May 2015

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This is one of the few films that starts on a dismal note and gradually gets more interesting. Usually, it's the other way around.

We meet our Dumb and Dumber inspired protagonists - ex-Navy officer Shammi (Arshad Warsi) who gets a court martial and a simpleton Gujarati Kedar (Jackky Bhagnani) who always says the wrong things.

Kedar's visa to go to America gets rejected yet again, as this time he tells the visa officer he intends to stay there indefinitely on a tourist visa, wants to organize garba events to make a living, and offers him a bribe for a green card.

The two fools are instructed by Kedar's father, who runs an event-organizing company, to take care of a wedding atop a yacht. We then see a song with inane lyrics, where token blonde dancers frolic around in skimpy clothes, because you know, that's what firang ladies do.

The two lead the party to stormy waters (literally), and the boat sinks. Here we witness the worst ever storm scene – a merry mélange of awful acting, disconnected shots, and tacky visual effects. Then on, the film gets better.

Shammi and Kedar find themselves on Pakistani shores, and are mistaken for locals. How they then survive living across the border, getting involved with the Taliban, ISI, and heck, even the American C.I.A forms the rest of the entertaining story.

Our simpletons negotiate their way through all of the above and more, leaving plenty of laughs along the way. Note the scene where a sort of world war begins on a slight provocation with countries joining in. Or the instance where the two are held hostage by the Taliban, and while Shammi asks a terrorist how they get their mobile bills, Kedar insists they stay on for a few days as they are getting an otherwise expensive 'holiday in the mountains' for free. He also, by default, calls everyone, everywhere 'uncle', making an exception for the Taliban chief whom he addresses as 'dangerous uncle'.

They tumble from one tumultuous situation to the other, and are used by people in power across boundaries. That they are idiots and always say the most outrageous things doesn't help.The dialogue consistently crackles with wit. On reaching the border, when Kedar wonders where the wires are, Shammi says it's an India-Pakistan border, the wires must've been stolen by someone from either side.

As the always-in-trouble duo, Arshad Warsi and Jackky Bhagnani make a pretty good pairing. Warsi is dependably superb and makes us warm up to his relatively more responsible character. One did miss background detailing on his character, though.

As the dumber one, who cannot think beyond his Gujarati identity, Jackky Bhagnani is a pleasant surprise. He has some of the best lines, and manages to make you laugh on several occasions. Lauren Gottlieb plays a Pakistani Intelligence officer, and she looks fetching in the part, but comes alive only in the dance number (don't ask).

The peripheral cast, especially those playing the Pakistani characters including the Taliban chief, deserves special mention.

Writer-director Ashish R Mohan, who directed Khiladi 786 a few years ago, makes a film that's less political satire, and more a tale of two bumbling fools. The direction remains inconsistent throughout the film, with some snatches of self-assured storytelling with a knack for humour.

However, the central flaw of the film is its extreme portrayal of Karachi. The Pakistani city has been shown as a lawless place where terrorists stuff explosives in watermelons and pizzas, where most of the Internet is banned, and there are gun chases through swanky malls. As one character puts it, "Ye Karachi hai, yahan roz kuch na kuch hota hai." Another local character compares the popularity and accessibility of guns to potatoes.

It's one thing to caricaturize for humour, and another thing to completely misrepresent something. One also wishes the humour wasn't accompanied by the insufferable background core and sound effects.

However, if you can look beyond these flaws, the film is worth your time for the unique story, performances and some genuine laughs.

Rating: 2.5 stars