Director: Sivaani Senthil
Cast: Jishnu Menon
Rating: 1/5 stars
With films bearing ‘India’s first’ tags coming out almost every Friday, 2018 has been quite an interesting year in a sense. Debutant Sivaani Senthil’s Kargil joins this not-so-exclusive club as ‘South India’s first film to star a single character’. The director deserves a pat for staying true to the genre and leaving out needless commercial elements. Excluding the intro song, Undhan Heart, which features Prerna Sadani, nowhere in the film do we see any actor other than Jishnu Menon.
Kargil starts with Arjun (Jishnu), a happy-go-lucky software professional, leaving for Bangalore in his car--which is where he stays for the rest of the film, as he drives and makes phone calls. He is on his way to attend a crucial on-site client interview, to actualise the lie he’s told his girlfriend Maha and impress her father, who is returning from the US. Things take an awry turn when Arjun’s ex-girlfriend and current MD, Sindhu, ends up going to pick Maha’s father up from the airport. She turns possessive and starts plotting to get him back.
The problem with Kargil starts right from the deceptive title. The film has no relevance to war whatsoever, and the only connection the title has seems to stem from the fact that the film is set inside a car, and car-il (in a car) vaguely sounds like Kargil.
Films with a single actor aren’t completely alien to Indian cinema. This unique league of films was kickstarted by Sunil Dutt with the psychological drama, Yaadein, back in 1964. Though many films on similar lines have been made in the five decades since, the two key factors needed to make such a film work have always been constant — casting of an impeccable actor and a strong screenplay. Unfortunately, Kargil fails on both these counts.
Stephen Knight’s 2013 film, Locke, also set in a car with a single actor, seems to have been the inspiration for Kargil. That film worked beautifully because the chaos and drama happening in the protagonist’s life necessitates that the hero make and answer calls. Arjun in Kargil, on the other hand, invites problems into his life by calling people. It might have been just another day in his life if he had only decided to put his mobile in flight mode. But for some weird reason, Arjun keeps answering phone calls drawing more and more misery. This, in turn, makes it hard for us to empathise with him. The loopholes in the plot apart, the stagnant camera angles end up making our experience even more unpleasant. And despite being told that almost all the characters in the film are from a corporate background, the voice actors and even the lead struggle to deliver the simplest of dialogues in English.
The only saving grace comes in the form of the humour portions involving a wrong call from someone named Beep Sagayam. Though it is completely irrelevant to the main storyline, this bit is well-written, and this man ends up being the most realistic character in the film.