‘Kartam Bhugtam’ : This Taut Psychological Thriller Effective in Its Messaging

By Ronal Kotecha

Story: NRI Dev Joshi (Shreyas Talpade) wants to consolidate his dead father’s assets and cash, but the course of his life changes when he meets a highly acclaimed astrologer.

Review: What goes around, comes around. That’s the most basic rule of life and often the fear that pushes most individuals to do the right thing. The age old adage, “As you sow, so shall you reap,” defines our karma and guides us to deal with various challenges in our life. Based on this simple yet effective concept of life, writer-director Soham P. Shah builds a realistic story of a man whose life takes a dramatic turn after he meets Anna (Vijay Raaz), a revered astrologer, whose predictions are spot on. Sitting cross-legged inside the massive dark room in his palatial villa, reverberating with vedic chants, Anna doesn’t mince words while predicting the future of distressed people looking for solutions. He tells them what exactly is going to happen to them and their loved ones. He also gives simple solutions to these desperate individuals, who are willing to try anything and everything that can avert the upcoming crisis in their life. Not the one to believe in such superstitions, Dev dismisses Anna’s words when he tells him that he won’t be able to leave India easily. Dev’s only purpose is to sell off his ancestral assets and cash out so that he can go back to New Zealand and restart his life impacted by Covid. Dev wants to fulfill his father’s dream and start his own venture. But destiny has other plans and Anna’s words ring true, each time, Dev hits a roadblock in his mission.

Executed in a taut screenplay, this psychological thriller keeps the audience engaged with a consistent flow of unexpected twists in Dev’s life. The events are relatable and domestic. The kind of situations we routinely face when dealing with banks, lenders, civic authorities and in property matters. Set in a small town in India, Shah captures the essence of the place with its slow paced life and practical problems. The strength of the narrative rests on the shoulders of two very able performers – Shreyas Talpade and Vijay Raaz, who deliver convincing performances. Madhoo is well cast as a God-fearing South Indian teacher and Anna’s docile housewife. A little more depth in the way her role is written could have made it more impactful. Aksha Pardasany lends good support as Dev’s girlfriend Jiya.

With no unnecessary songs or frills, ‘Kartam Bhugram’ flows at a consistent pace. While the loud background score could have been dialled down a bit, thankfully, the film doesn’t resort to jarring theatrics or unwanted drama. It is able to prove its point in a simplistic way. In fact, a bit too simplistic, at times. But that’s also its strength, as the story doesn’t deviate from its purpose of establishing how Karma eventually catches up with you, no matter how far you run.

All in all, ‘Kartam Bhugtam’ is an entertaining slice-of-life thriller that delivers a strong message without deviating from its core. — Times of India