73 Years of Pakistan China Friendship

Dum Maaro Dum
Directed by: Rohan Sippy
Producer by: Ramesh Sippy
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Pancholi, Bipasha Basu
Music Dir: Pritam Chakraborty, R D Burman

I've often heard irate moviegoers grumble that superior stories are in short supply, but I don't subscribe to this viewpoint. I genuinely feel that we have great stories to narrate, but we mess up on screenplay writing, mutilating a brilliant story in the process. That's an issue with Dum Maaro Dum as well. A fascinating concept may not translate into an enthralling and enticing film, right.

Come to think of it, Rohan Sippy has evolved into a stylish storyteller with the passage of time. And Dum Maaro Dum bears testimony to this fact. Right from the shot compositions to the edit pattern, the distinct stamp of Sippy Jr. just cannot be overlooked. But a collage of brilliantly executed sequences cannot compensate for a riveting screenplay. That's precisely why Dum Maaro Dum lacks dum.

At heart, Dum Maaro Dum is a chor-police game, with the cop (Abhishek Bachchan) going all out to nail the drug lord (Aditya Pancholi) , the messiah of narcotics trade, but the content fails to hold your attention after a point (towards the second hour specifically). The writing gets muddled in the post-interval portions, after one has savored some tremendous moments in the first hour. There are portions that put you off (Abhishek injects drugs in the thugs in order to extract information), that remain unexplained (what is it that Prateik knows and reveals in the letter?), that come as a complete shocker (why is Rana hell bent on saving Prateik, so much so that he puts Bipasha's life at stake?)... Besides, the pre-climax as well as the penultimate moments are a major letdown. The drama in the concluding reels, in fact, is prolonged for no reason.

What goes against the film is the fact that the writer sidetracks the protagonist in the pre-climax itself, while the actor in the supporting role walks away as the savior. Frankly, sidetracking the protagonist leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Even the protagonist's loyal fans, I am sure, will find this difficult to absorb and will be shocked and sorely disappointed by this grave mistake. That's not all, even the elimination of the all-powerful drug kingpin by an inconsequential character seems ridiculous. Also, the suspense just doesn't work and nor does it create the desired impact (the twist in the end is quite an anti-climax).

Multiple lives collide at Goa Airport one day... (Lorry) Prateik is a student on the verge of following his girlfriend (Anaitha Nair) to a U.S. University. But when his scholarship gets rejected, his life threatens to spiral out of control, until he meets a smooth-talking hustler who promises to get it back on track.

In the meanwhile, top cop Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan) is entrusted the responsibility of destroying the brutal local and international drug mafia in Goa. He forms a core team (Govind Namdev, Muzammil) and starts 'cleansing' the land. All fingers point towards Biscuta (Aditya Pancholi), a ruthless local businessman, who has his finger in every pie, legal or illegal. Suddenly, Biscuta finds himself pushed to the extreme limit with Kamath's arrival.

On the other hand, Joki (Rana Daggubati) drifts aimlessly through life after an encounter with the drug mafia costs him the love of his life, Zoe (Bipasha Basu). Joki takes upon himself to save Lorry, who has been a pawn in a vicious game.

Dum Maaro Dum moves at a feverish pace initially, with the director and writer Shridhar Raghavan not indulging in spoon-feeding, unlike most film-makers here are known for. In fact, they expect the viewer to grasp and figure out certain situations that arise in the film, instead of explaining it themselves. That makes the goings-on a tad difficult to comprehend at times and which, in turn, may not be liked by those who don't feel like taxing their brains while watching a film.

What also puts you off after a point are the brutal killings in the name of violence. One doesn't mind action films (I am all for it), but why make it so real that it puts you off? Stabbing syringes into the neck and even twisting necks is a strict no-no, in my opinion.

Rohan Sippy has given the film his all. He has a unique style of telling a story, which is evident all through the film. But he's letdown by the screenplay writing in the second hour. The highpoints of the film include crisp dialogue and a popular soundtrack (music: Pritam). The title track has already caught on and will prove to be a major crowdpuller, though there's a sizable section of cineastes who loathe its lyrics. 'Thayn Thayn' is catchy, but the placement of this song should've been better. Amit Roy's cinematography is top notch. In fact, the film bears a stunning look all through. Background score (Midival Punditz) is electrifying. Editing could've been sharper. Clocking in at roughly 2 hour and 05 minutes, it's much longer than it should be.

Abhishek is super in the role of a tough cop whose life undergoes a U-turn when personal tragedy strikes. He projects the varied emotions such as rage, turmoil, helplessness, anxiety without going overboard. Much of the joy comes from watching Rana Daggubati infuse believability into his character. He's easy on the eyes and is a complete natural when it comes to acting. Bipasha shines in several moments of the film. Prateik (credited as special appearance in the titles) impresses a great deal. Aditya Pancholi is first-rate. Anaitha Nair does well in a brief role. Govind Namdeo is in terrific form. Muzammil (as Mercy) does a fair job. Gulshan Devaiya is tremendous. Hussain is okay. Vidya Balan (cameo) is alright. Deepika scorches the screen in the title track.

On the whole, Dum Maaro Dum is like fast food that's high on calories, but falls short in the nutrition department. Yes, it's slick, stylish and well-crafted, but the fact remains that it lacks the power (in its second hour specifically) to create a dum-daar impression. Business-wise, Dum Maaro Dum caters more to the youth in metros than the hardcore masses in general. Its business in plexes of Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Bengaluru in particular will be the best. The Nizam-Andhra circuits in particular will also contribute a good chunk thanks to Rana Daggubati's presence. But the traditional circuits may not react as strongly. In a nutshell, the business is likely to be divided between metros and non-metros, between weekend and weekdays.

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