Cinema

Welcome to Karachi: The joke’s on us

The producer of 'Welcome 2 Karachi', Vashu Bhagnani, wanted a Thursday release because May 28 marked the release of his 1999 superhit, Biwi No.1. But surely, Bhagnani, who has been in business for so long, knows that a lucky release date alone isn’t enough for a film’s success… or does he?



To its credit, this film isn’t one of those which begins with a lot of promise. In fact, there never is any. The opening credits roll by the side of a tacky rotating globe, as if the film thinks of itself as a high-on-wit political satire. From the first scene, it’s evident that it’s far from one.



Kedar Patel (Jackky Bhagnani) is a good-for-nothing Gujarati boy whose biggest dream is to go to the U.S. on a tourist visa and never return. He wants to organise dandiya parties in New Jersey and become a successful event organiser like his father Mitesh bhai (Dalip Tahil). He gets his chance when Mitesh bhai asks him and ex-Navy officer Shammi Thakur (Arshad Warsi) to take a wedding party onboard a yacht for a sea wedding. Shammi screws up and the two end up on a beach in Karachi.



The setting shifts to Pakistan, where the lack of research becomes painfully apparent. I know this isn’t the kind of film that requires too much research, but how can anyone portray every other Pakistani as a gun-toting terrorist? It’s as insensitive as showing every other Indian as a snake charmer.



Genre: Comedy
Director: Ashish R. Mohan
Cast: Jackky Bhagnani, Arshad Warsi
Storyline: Two losers sink a yacht off Gujarat and get stranded in Pakistan


Even a tea-seller, who works outside the Indian consulate in Karachi, wields a gun. In a particularly silly scene, a Pakistani agent (Lauren Gottlieb) shoots at Shammi, and triggers a mini world war. Apparently, the consulates of various nations are lined along one street in Karachi and the security guards of each of these begin firing at each other. So we have Israelis shooting Palestinians, Russians shooting Ukrainians and more. In another scene, Shammi, dressed as a doctor, delivers a baby with the help of a vacuum cleaner. After finishing the job, he explains that he had learnt the technique from Raju Hirani.



Without any plausible explanation, the duo reaches an Al-Qaeda camp and is trained to become terrorists. In perhaps the film’s only funny scene, Kedar Patel, being the Gujarati he is, explains how one should think of this terrorist camp in the hills as a free holiday in Shimla, considering how expensive it is to go there these days.



Add to this mess some flatulent humour, a corrupt Pakistani minister who rechristens the duo — Col. Ithefaq and Col. Whatthefaq — and an American army officer who wants to take credit for the death of powerful terrorist leaders and you have contrivances that insult the audience’s intelligence.



Considering the producer has inflicted on us films such as 'Humshakals' and 'Himmatwala', one doesn’t go in expecting a 'Citizen Kane' but 'Welcome to Karachi' is still stretching the boundaries of how much torture a film can inflict on its audience.



All said, one must salute the relentless perseverance of Jackky Bhagnani, who has effectively become the gold standard for lameness. I wonder why he isn’t a meme yet.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 12:19:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/welcome-to-karachi-movie-review/article7260715.ece

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