Kartam Bhugtam is another wasted opportunity as a thriller

Shreyas Talpade and Madhoo in Kartam Bhugtam. Photo: Idayah Media

The title means, “As you shall sow, so shall you reap.” That is, what goes around comes around. A gripping thriller could have been spun here out of an intelligent plot. Alas! Another opportunity is wasted.

In the first half of the film, we cannot fathom the relation of the title to the story, though a prime character, Anna (Vijay Raaz), who plays a god-man of sorts, utters these words to someone who has come to him. But then, director Soham P. Shah’s idea is to justify it in the second half, which, if seen the way it is narrated, seems like an altogether different movie!

Dev (Shreyas Talpade) is working in New Zealand and comes to hometown Bhopal for 10 days to collect all his late father’s assets: the rich man has passed away during the lockdown and the son has not been able to travel down to pay his last respects. The father (Alok Gutch) has told his son not to work there anymore but start his own business that he will finance. He had also wanted to migrate, but had passed away.

In Bhopal, Dev has a crony, Gaurav (Gaurav Daagar, who doubles up as the movie’s casting director), who picks him up from the airport, and makes him comfortable at his own house. His mother is seriously ill and for this as well as other matters, Gaurav consults the god-man who suggests simple rituals. Against medical science, his mother recovers. On his first trip to the holy man’s house, Dev accompanies Gaurav and Anna makes a prediction to him: “Jaane ko nahin hona (You will not be able to return!)”. This prediction starts haunting Dev as because of various hurdles, he cannot return in 10 days and over a month passes!

Dev’s girlfriend in NZ, Jia (Aksha Pardasany) gets upset when Dev keeps telling her about the delays, only half-believing him. Soon, another of Anna’s predictions comes true: Gaurav gets a job in Dubai! Dev starts believing in Anna and consults him, gradually becoming close to his wife, Seema (Madhoo) and son (Rishabh Kohli) as well. He is told that he just has to be patient, and observe certain rituals including fasting, and take precautions regarding the colors of the clothes he wears and the numerical total of his bank account number!

In NZ, Jia soon wants to move on as by now Dev has stopped answering her calls, but decides to come to India to check on him. What she finds, to her great shock, is an ill and haggard man moving around purposelessly around the ruins of a building. He hallucinates about Anna, his wife and son.

This is the interval point. And our expectations soar to the skies! What must have happened, and how? And what is the relevance of the film’s title, for Dev has never done anything bad. And neither, to our knowledge, has his rich and late dad!

The second half thus begins with great anticipation from the viewer. But what we get is an incongruous, illogical saga of great conspiracy against the rich NRI and how an elaborate, absurd game was played with him. Jia looks after Dev and when he physically recovers, books a flight back to NZ, but on the way, there is a layover at Bangkok. And the ongoing Bangkok flight is canceled so Dev and Jia have 24 hours’ free time there!

By one of those coincidences we get to see only in Hindi movies, Dev sees Anna, Seema and their son there, and Jia suspects an attack of delusion again. But it is not so! After it is confirmed via a commercial center’s CCTV cameras (!!!),Dev also spots Gaurav, who confesses to his role in the dubious con. Now Dev and Jia stage an elaborate revenge plan against their tormentors.

What, however, comes across is a simplistic, very implausible, loophole-ridden revenge drama that only wants to vindicate the film’s title. Never mind if the absurdities loom taller than a mountain!

Shreyas Talpade is patently sincere all through, but looks too harmless as a vendetta machine. Aksha Pardasany is good in her brief role. Vijay Raaz does his job very competently, but it is Madhoo truly steals the show in the complex character of Seema. Arguably, this is her best work after Roja!

Director Soham P. Shah is a great believer in fate, for his only two films before this were Kaal (2005), a lukewarm success in urban centers, and Luck (2009), a disaster. Both were ensemble-cast films that went nowhere, and maybe that is why the filmmaker in his (merely) third film in 20 years (!!) has gone the modest-budget way.

Nothing else is remarkable about the film, though the worst part is the loud, obtrusive and very often needless continuous orgy of cacophony that masquerades as a background ‘score’ by Amar Mohile.

Gandhar Films & Studios’ Kartam Bhugtam  Produced by: Gandhar Films & Studios  Written & Directed by: Soham P. Shah  Music: Shabbir Ahmed  Starring: Madhoo, Shreyas Talpade, Vijay Raaz, Aksha Pardasany, Gaurav Daagar, Rishabh Kohli, Alok Gutch & others




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