Gandhar Films & Studio Pvt. Ltd.’s Kartam Bhugtam (UA) is a revenge drama. Dev Joshi (Shreyas Talpade) comes to India from New Zealand and gets impressed by a clairvoyant/astrologer, Anna (Vijay Raaz). Dev’s friend, Gaurav (Gaurav Daagar), introduces Dev to Anna who uses astrology, palmistry, numerology, occult science, etc. to predict the future. Before he knows it, Dev loses his mental balance. He keeps imagining that he is meeting Anna and his wife, Seema (Madhoo), and their son, Sameer (Rishabh Kohli). This comes to light when his girlfriend, Jia (Aksha Pardasany), comes to India from New Zealand as she is worried that he has not returned to New Zealand and is also not available on phone. Jia consults a doctor who treats Dev. There is a marked improvement in his condition following which Dev and Jia decide to return to New Zealand.

On their way back to New Zealand, Dev encounters Anna, Seema and Sameer in Bangkok. He also meets Gaurav there. What happens thereafter? Is Dev fully cured and does he really see Anna and his family in Bangkok or does he get a relapse of his mental illness in the foreign country? Are Anna and his family responsible for Dev’s illness? Or do they help in curing him completely?

Soham P. Shah has written a routine revenge story with an angle of the clairvoyant/astrologer to probably give it a new twist. But in the final tally, it turns out to be a regular vendetta drama. His screenplay is repetitive in the first half and long-drawn and boring after interval. Although Jia has not met Anna, why she softens her stand, when Dev shows her pictures of Anna, his wife and their son in Bangkok, is not known. For, the natural corollary would be for her to once again assume that he is imagining seeing Anna. But the audience can see a marked difference in her behaviour in Bangkok as compared to when he sees images of Anna while he is undergoing treatment in India. There is no justification for this change in Jia’s stance. Dev’s revenge in Bangkok is so convenient that it makes the drama less believable. Also, the title ‘Kartam Bhugtam’ would normally denote that a man would have to pay for his bad deeds when life or someone else does unto him what he had done unto his victim (in this case, Dev). There is also an element of the Divine Force inherent in the term ‘Kartam Bhugtam’. But in this drama, there is neither a ‘someone else’ nor any Divine Force at play as Dev himself seeks revenge on Anna, so the title doesn’t seem very justified. In other words, although the writer would have the viewers believe that stars and Karma are at play, what actually is happening is that Dev is out to avenge the wrongs done to him by Anna and family. Soham P. Shah’s dialogues are ordinary for most of the part but they are definitely interesting in the couple of light scenes in the drama. Frankly, the light portions should’ve been more.

Shreyas Talpade acts well in the role of Dev Joshi, but to think that he could carry the burden of a film on his shoulders is far removed from reality. Vijay Raaz performs ably as Anna. Madhoo acts well as Seema. Aksha Pardasany is fair as Jia. Gaurav Daagar is natural as Dev’s friend, Gaurav. Rishabh Kohli lends reasonable support as Sameer. Sudipta Saxena (as Gaurav’s neighbour), Aakash Amlani (as bank officer Aakash) and Deepak Parihar (as Dr. Khurana) lend fine support. Atharva Sawant (as Sumit), Sachindra Shrivastav (as Lalaji), Asha Bisariya (as Gaurav’s mother), Rahul Tiwari (as the bank manager), Kamlesh Khare (as the real estate broker), Chandrakant Upadhyay (as Brij Soni), Ishita Trivedi (as Shanaya) and the others provide reasonable support.

Soham P. Shah’s direction is fair. However, his script is half-baked. Shabbir Ahmed’s music is functional, with a couple of songs being alright. Lyrics (by Shabbir Ahmed) are nothing to shout about. Choreography (Arvind Thakur) is average. Amar Mohile’s background music ought to have been far more effective, given that the film is a psychological thriller. Santosh Thundiyil’s cinematography is nice. Production designing (by Kunal Bardhan) is alright. Biren Jyoti Mohanty’s editing should’ve been sharper.

On the whole, Kartam Bhugtam is too routine to make an impact. Given that none of the actors of the film — hero Shreyas Talpade, Vijay Raaz or Madhoo — can attract the audience to the cinemas on the strength of his/her name, the film would remain a non-starter.

Released on 17-5-’24 at Inox (daily 1 show) and other cinemas of Bombay thru PVR Inox Pictures. Publicity: weak. Opening: poor. …….Also released all over. Opening was dull everywhere.