Karthi is superb and the film powers through mainly because of his performance.
The trailer for "Kaashmora" promised a dark fantasy film but that was clearly a clever smokescreen. The deception, however, does not disappoint.
A few minutes into the story and you realize that the brooding Kaashmora (Karthi) is not what he appears to be. The black magician and ghost-buster thankfully has another side to him and a rollicking one at that. Vivek, who plays Karthi's father, is hilarious and together, the two of them have the audience in splits for a good part of the film. It's the chemistry they share that puts "Kaashmora" firmly in the comedy genre.
This is a good thing because the fantasy world in the script is rather sketchy. While the graphics work (especially the headless man and his floating head), the narrative doesn't invest much time in constructing an elaborate and convincing other world. The elements are presented in bits and pieces but you don't complain for one reason - Karthi.
Whether he's playing the glib and quick-thinking Kaashmora or the lecherous yet courageous Raj Naik, the army commander in the fantasy/historical world, he's superb. There's one shot in which he poses as a sword-wielding woman and his body language in this blink-and-miss moment proves his calibre. When male actors play a woman, they often fall back on disrespectful caricature. Karthi, however, pulls it off with grace, still managing to be funny. There's never a dull moment when he's on screen and the film powers through mainly because of his performance.
Surprisingly, though there are two heroines in the film, there's no romance. Nayantara appears in the second half as a wronged princess seeking revenge. Having grown up in the tradition of watching heroine after heroine swoon at the sight of the hero's physical prowess and convincing herself that she's in love only because he lusts after her, it comes as a surprise when princess Ratna doesn't fall in line. Nayantara does not have too much screen time but she does enough to justify her female superstar status.
Sri Divya has a small role as a researcher writing her thesis on charlatans. Once again, you expect her to forget all about her "research" and sing duets with Karthi on a South American beach but that doesn't happen either. The film has quite a few magical elements in it - this is probably one that not too many will comment on.
Director Gokul, who is also the film's writer, must be commended for desisting the urge to confuse the story with unnecessary sequences that would have added little value to the plot. Santhosh Narayanan's background score is another plus. It's quiet when it needs to be and rousing when the scene demands it.
"Kaashmora" has its problems and fault-lines, but there's enough of Karthi to keep the film from fizzling out. Much like its endearing protagonist, it's flawed and funny, making it a perfect entertainer for the Deepavali weekend.