First up, Karma deserves credit for being ambitious in its technical departments. The film was shot with a Red One system, and its Hollywood-style cinematography and its set design are evidently meant for bigger things.
Much bigger things than an incoherent script.
Designed to be a supernatural thriller, Karma takes too long to clearly come out with what it really intends to speak about. It is an NRI tale that wants to exploit concepts like underground cults, but ends up looking like an empty art film.
The problem starts with the choice of the heroine; why would anyone want an Indian to be played by a foreigner, even if she's Indian-American (Jade Taylor)? The actress is elegant, but is a misfit. The issues don't stop there - the film has a bunch of newcomers whose acting skills and dubbing make this feel like a home video.
Anyway, the story begins with Padma (Jade Taylor), the daughter of an NRI couple, witnessing her dad's murder as a child. Here, the film drops hints of sleazy drug-peddling activities by temple priests. Then, the movie cuts to the present, where Padma is a young woman studying to be a doctor. She's lost her mother, too, and lives alone in Shamrock.
Out of the blue, a woman (Rashmi) claiming to be her mother's friend, and her son Dev (Sesh Adivi) enter her life. Dev happens to be a psychic, and he and the rational-thinking Padma get drawn to each other through many mumbling conversations. Meanwhile, Padma is being wooed by a soft-spoken friend Raj (Sher Ali). Looming large in the story are instances of gruesome killings and pedophiles belonging to an evil cult.
Karma suffers huge obstacles to success. It is a film that only muliplex audiences might have been able to appreciate, and is not meant for what we usually call the masses - but in the theatres that it has been released, it has no choice of audience except the front-benchers. The way this could have been prevented is by releasing the flick only in multiplexes; but sadly, that is not a model followed in the Telugu cinema industry.
The idea was to showcase events in the film as really enigmatic, but the disconnect with the people who are watching it is way too high - it feels like a dubbed English movie with ludicrous dialogue. Plus, this is a rather mediocre movie, with a plot that moves nowhere for most of the time, leaving people impatient.
The acting is soporific, accentuated probably by the yawn-inducing situational conversation devoid of a single interesting line. Sesh Adivi looks good and is expressive, though, and should get into some real cinema. Sher Ali is good, too.
The soundtrack varies from bizarre to quirky fusion, and is set to accompany the sombre tone of the flick.
You might want to give Karma a try to look at the little offbeat activity that goes on in Telugu cinema, but we wouldn't recommend it for good entertainment at all.