Kaarni, a mystery thriller, is the story of a speech impaired woman who stands against the world to take revenge against those who bullied her brother. While the one-line summary may sound extremely intriguing, the execution, however, is below par.
Five college girls go missing and are all found dead in different locations across Karnataka. All hell breaks loose but the police are unable to trace the culprit. Shankar (Niranth) one of the girlâ€™s brothers, too is on the look out for the killer. He comes across a book Kaarni, written by Tanu (Duniya Rashmi), which talks about a trans woman Narahari.
The movie has several sub plots and has come at the right time â€“ just after the Supreme Courtâ€™s verdict on Section 377. Kaarni talks about how homophobia and transphobia still persist among the people, even among the well educated, and how the LGBTQ+ community can find acceptance only after people learn to live with them and not see them as a cancer in society.
However, the movie is lacking when it comes to execution. The first half is all about the five murders and Shankar trying to trace Tanu, which is slow and dragging. The first half could have been effectively shown in half-an-hour through crisp editing. The second half gathers pace. But again, it seems like the makers have put too many elements in the second half, which make people forget about the first half.
The flashback tale in the second half is worth a mention. But a few scenes, while going back and forth to show the past and present scenario, fail to connect the dots. A few scenes are hurriedly shown and cut abruptly, god knows for what reason. In the second half, the sleeping giant awakes, but not enough to save this thriller from itself. One can easily say that the movie has been done in a shoestring budget.
The film has less than 10 characters. Duniya Rashmi carries the movie on her shoulders. She plays the speech impaired woman and her performance deserves applause. But the biggest turn off is the way it has been shot. Most of the scenes are shot in the dark â€“ and it is so dark that it puts you to sleep. At a few places you end up searching for a face on screen because you can only hear the voice.
The director and cinematographer should have given more importance to the details. The subject could have been dealt with more maturity and experienced actors. Most of the cast and crew members, expect Duniya Rashmi, are new and are facing camera for the first time, which is very evident throughout the film. A thriller from a newbie can be tricky. It can be extremely wonderful or fall flat; Kaarni falls in the second category.
The music plays a big part in mystery thrillers, but Arindam Goswamiâ€™s background score fails to evoke fear. Vinod Kumarâ€™s directorial is short of a disaster, but with the second half, he promises to deliver a good film, provided he gets a good team, especially, an editor. Overall, the movie loses steam quickly. There are some pacing issues too, especially in the beginning, and paired with the choppy editing, it makes for a slow ride.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.