Blatant stereotyping, infantile humor, and lackluster performances are just three of the problems that plague Welcome 2 Karachi, a comedy about the misadventures of a pair of dim-witted slackers who wake up to find themselves in Pakistan one day.
Dishonorably discharged naval officer Shammi (Arshad Warsi) and the idiot son of an event organizer Kedar (Jackky Bhagnani) are washed ashore on a Karachi beach after their party cruise hits choppy waters. Over the next two hours we watch – in mostly comatose state – how the harebrained duo try to dodge gun-toting locals, a Pakistani intelligence officer (Lauren Gottlieb), some Taliban terrorists, and the CIA, while all along trying to make their way back home to India.
It’s a potentially clever premise, but writer Vrajesh Hirjee and director Ashish R Mohan kill any scope for genuine laughs by relying on juvenile jokes and plain stupidity. To be fair, the film’s low-rent humor is part of the design. Pitched as a desi take on Dumb & Dumber, the film revels in the duo’s foolishness and asks that you do as well. But it’s hard when the writing is as one-note as the actors. All Pakistanis are gun-wielding, India-hating, Muslim fundamentalists. The Americans are all shrewd manipulators. The dialogues are full of Class Five puns, best illustrated in an exchange between our ‘heroes’ and a mujahideen leader. “Mujhe tum pe fakr hai,” he tells them. “No we fakar you,” they respond. “No I fakar you,” he insists…and so it continues until the scene is no longer funny.
The acting too is repetitive and uninspired. Bhagnani grates with a faux Gujarati accent, and makes at least a dozen garba and fafda references. Warsi looks plain disinterested, aside from a few (very few) moments of seemingly spontaneous hilarity. In the film’s best scene, he mistakenly cheers for the Indian team during a cricket match, temporarily forgetting that they’re posing as Pakistanis at the moment.
Such scenes of inspired lunacy are sadly in short supply here. The film drags on incessantly, a bunch of unimpressive songs stretching out the running time. When the lights come back on in the end, you’ll want to run for the exit. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Welcome 2 Karachi. It’s a big fat bore.