“Carma” thrusts you straight into the violence and gore from the first scene. A car ornament bearing a caricature of director Quentin Tarantino. For fans of the director this tells you all you need to know about the film’s genre. There’s going to be blood, there’s going to be thrill, and there are going to be a lot of twists and turns.
The Basic Plot
“Carma” centers on the kidnapping of a businessman, played by Osama Tahir. The kidnappers feature Umar Aalam, Paaras Masroor (who delivers arguably the film’s best performance), and the radiant Zhalay Sarhadi. Also present are Naveen Waqar, Adnan Siddiqui, and a smorgasbord of supporting actors.
While the story of “Carma” seems simple enough in the beginning, the twists and turns keep coming at you as it runs on. The plot features murder, deception, elaborate schemes, and a very thrilling car chase which beats anything that you’ve seen from Pakistani cinema’s new wave as of yet.
The Tarantino Touches
The film runs in a nonlinear fashion, jumping back and forth between past and present; a technique that Quentin Tarantino is well known for. However, the action and the thrill is more akin to Guy Ritchie and Shane Black. The violence isn’t stylized or well-choreographed as it feels in most of Quentin Tarantino’s films like “Inglorious Basterds” or “Pulp Fiction”. It’s messy and makes you look away and wince. That’s something which may remind you of Tarantino’s first feature, “Reservoir Dogs”, or Guy Ritchie’s black comedies like “Snatch and Lock”, “Stock”, and “Two Smoking Barrels”.
However, there’s more to “Carma” than just the violence and thrill. The dialogues, though cringey in the beginning, have some meat to it in the most intense scenes. Characters wax lyrical about different torture methods and philosophize about revenge and betrayal. That’s about as Tarantino as you can get.
It’s all quite filmy, but it works when the adrenaline is that high. To the actors’ credits, Osama Tahir, Paaras Masroor, and Naveen Waqar do their part well. Zhalay Sarhadi unfortunately had me missing her role in “Jalaibi” (2015). She’s much better than the stuff she was given in “Carma” and I hope that she’s given better scripts in the future.
And finally, there’s a “Tarantinoism” in the film that diehard fans will spot and will either roll their eyes or just smile and nod. However, it doesn’t make the plot ‘drag its feet’ at any time…if you know what I mean.
“Carma” presents a welcome change in the Pakistani film industry which is the tight editing. Scenes that drag too long and awkward pauses in the middle of conversations are problems which have lingered on during the new wave. However, thrillers like “Carma” give some hope. There’s hardly a dull moment, and the film keeps moving until the momentum builds to a climax. Zaid Shah, the film’s editor should be commended for his work.
Loopholes and Technical Problems
“Carma” isn’t without its problems. They’re not dealbreakers, but they will bother filmgoers who have grown accustomed to tight thrillers.
First off, there are some clear loopholes in the plot. There is quite a lot of detective work and sleuthing in “Carma” which doesn’t all fit into place by the end.
Second, the time jumps I mentioned earlier don’t always work. There are abrupt tonal shifts which disrupt the film’s narrative. It’s also because of these tonal shifts that you’re not really invested in the storyline of any of the characters. Yes, the twists and turns are intriguing, and they keep you guessing, but the way they’re clumped together makes the narrative feel more like “Race 3” than “Pulp Fiction”.
Third, there’s some really bad makeup in one scene. It’s REALLY noticeable.
Final Word: “Carma” is a Bloody Thrill Ride
“Carma” is the kind of film Pakistani cinema needs right now. It’s not going to win any awards at festivals, but it’s the adventure/thriller/mystery film that will keep filling seats.
It’s an enjoyable 2-hour watch to kill an afternoon or just wrap up the evening. It’s a bloody thrill ride that will keep you glued to the screen till the end. Take your friends, or your significant others and just kick back and watch the thrill.