Asif Shah’s Karkash (English translation: cacophony) never maintains a steady rhythm. Leaving one or two set-ups aside (that passably materialize at the end), the rest of the screenplay suffers from over-plotting, and drags this overcrowded fiasco into a bizarre anticlimax. The humor is tiresomely slapstick to be precise, lacking the subtlety and the depth that we seek in a dark comedy.
The premise: Andy (Daya Hang Rai), Prabhat (Satya Raj Acharya) and Sandesh (Raymon Das Shrestha) front a very mediocre band called Karkash. Their vocalist has recently ditched them, so to get into a band competition they need to recruit someone new. They then chance upon a boozed-up Ivan (Suraj Singh Thakuri), who is a Hindi song fanatic with boisterous antics. They somehow persuade Ivan to join Karkash, but his eccentric behaviors and laid-back approach does little to improve the band’s performance; instead he yanks all the three goofballs into a swamp of drugs, crime and corruption.
Shot luminously around the glitzy and bygone places of Kathmandu, Karkash authentically encapsulates the local look and the story fairly complements its setting. The opening portions run through the backstories of Andy, Prabhat and Sandesh. The tidbits involving Andy’s affair with his landlady, Prabhat chasing his tanked-up father and the Newari banter of Sandesh with his father regarding their butchery business are enjoyable but gets annoyingly repetitive at times. All the leads are scribed with unique traits: Andy has poor eyesight, Prabhat mostly stutters and Sandesh is hearing-impaired. These traits are noteworthy, as they symbolically try to connote a satirical view on human nature, but unfortunately the actors overdo their part with too much exaggeration that it becomes irritating after a while. At large Daya Hang Rai, portraying Andy, bothers with his verbal mannerism, which I reckon was intentionally added to extract laughs from every line of his.
In addition to the cast members listed above, the cameo from director Asif Shah is quite memorable. He plays a shabby music video director who suggests the band to shoot the video of their rock song in Chobhhar because “there are plenty of rocks there”. There are many light moments, running gags and witty one-liners throughout the movie which has little to do with the film’s overall storyline. Despite this, Karkash feels overcrowded: for instance, the character of the drug-lord hisses danger when he’s introduced but his role never progresses from then on and after few frames, we don’t even see him. Same goes for Suraj Singh Thakuri, who resurrects from his death and is shown contemplating a revenge but he vanishes in the concluding seconds. Then why go into so much trouble to fetch him back?
The movie breathes a little in the second half as it gives the impression that clever foreshadowing has at last saved the finale, but the film unpredictably dislocates from a pleasing climax to an abrupt ending. It tries to explain every bit of information and cover up the earlier set-ups – which are too many to keep count. What we are then presented is a happy-ending epilogue (narrated by Sugam Pokhrel). I cringed off my seat, feeling devastated with the improbable ending. How can someone overlook the rich material around him and devise a harebrained conclusion is beyond my sanity.