"Too many cooks spoil the broth" is a common saying but have you ever heard of too many genres spoiling a film? Director Dhiraj Kumar's film Kaashi seems to be in rare company, then.
The basic idea is simple enough: a man's beloved younger sister goes missing and he intends to find her, be it hell or highwater. Setting the film in Banaras is a pleasant change of flavor for a film following a pretty familiar formula in general. The quaintness of the town could've added a sense of calm and emotional turmoil together, a potentially winning combination.
Dhiraj Kumar opens the film in a mental asylum-cum-prison, with our protagonist Kaashi (Sharman Joshi) a prisoner there for a yet unknown crime. The edit of the scene indicates the Start at the End structure was an afterthought during post production but so far so good.
Then the director squanders all the potential about 2 minutes into the film as he gives our common man a hero entry with full song and dance and romance. The film never emerges from this tonal misfire.
Every time Kumar and his writer Manish Kishore got stuck anywhere, they seem to have picked up the nearest DVD and whatever twist was in it, they decided to put it in their film. Kaashi starts out simple enough, but by the end, it reaches levels of convolution that can come only from a muddled mindset and a combination of ideas that are not one's own.
The film goes from romance to mystery to action to courtroom drama to mental illness to revenge so quickly, there is barely any time for any of the disparate genres to register on the audience's mind. The fickleness isn't helped by poor editing by Parth Y. Bhatt, who clearly doesn't know how to transition between scenes or how to pace a scene, for that matter.
Sharman Joshi (and his wrinkles) have clearly seen better days career wise but he still gives a lot of commitment to a half-baked character navigating multiple films in one. His accent is pretty decent to a layman like me and he flips between different emotions more easily than the film does.
The only segment of the film that holds your attention for any length is the courtroom sequence, that too because Joshi is finally surrounded by capable actors such as Manoj Pahwa and Manoj Joshi, who keep the drama (and a few laughs) going. Leading lady Aishwarya Devan is abysmal throughout.
You can't really care about a brother going to extremes to find his sister if you're not exactly invested in their relationship. The best writing in Kaashi is probably naming the siblings Kaashi and Ganga to establish a relationship of purity and that's not even a very high bar to set. If only there was a singular vision to guide the film.
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