Dum Maaro Dum tries extremely hard to be a gritty, stylish action thriller set amidst the drug cartel in Goa but ultimately stumbles and stumbles badly with an unimpressive screenplay, a none too engaging narrative flow and some extremely shoddy execution.
In Dum Maaro Dum, multiple lives collide brutally one day at Goa Airport… and change forever. ACP Vishnu Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan), a self destructive cop fleeing his own past, Kamath is given the job of destroying the brutal local and international drug mafia in Goa. Lorry (Prateik Babbar), a student on the verge of following his girlfriend to a US University. But when his scholarship gets rejected, his life threatens to spiral out of control. DJ Joki (Rana Daggubati), local musician and mute spectator to what is happening around him, Joki drifts aimlessly through life after an encounter with the drug mafia cost him everything he held dear. Zoe (Bipasha Basu),an aspiring air hostess who saw her dreams turn to dust. Lorsa Biscuta aka the Biscuit (Aditya Pancholi), a ruthless local businessman, the Biscuit has his finger in every Goan pie, legal or illegal.
The first half of the film uses every trick in the book to desperately try and look zippy, stylish and cool to cover up for lack of story development. On the screenplay level, barring playing with the structure to introduce the main protagonists and lead to Goa airport and there on to the juvenile home, there really is little. Even the structure seems more to be a cover up the wafer thin material as is the ‘flashy’ treatment. Practically every transition from scene to scene is through some some graphical effect so conveniently the makers can get away with lax scene entries and exits while the camera wide angle frames scream themselves hoarse for attention to themselves. In the name of style, the film is grossly overcut with obvious cuts that distract and take away from the story more than anything else. This is felt all the more in the few human moments the film has.
Still, for all its issues, the first half is still somewhat bearable. But then the second half sees the film totally plummet. It loses focus, the story meanders in spite of this half being more loaded and now that the film is suddenly treated sans the visual effects and has to actually deal with more events, the filmic shortcomings scream out at you. Scenes are unimaginatively filmed – the Abhishek – Aditya Pancholi pointless interaction with its corny dialogue – while the multiple deaths, twists and double crosses seem desperate to bring back some life into the film. Govind Namdeo’s twist, for instance, is obvious and the story too seems to go on and on and on beyond a point… In fact, the script and solution is far too simplistic considering the intricacies of Goa’s drug trade business and the wide nexus it covers. Let’s just say a Traffic this isn’t!
A pity, really, as somewhere there was great scope here for an engrossing edge of the seat thriller. On the conception level, the characterisations of the three men and the stages of their lives that we catch them in are extremely interesting with all their various frailties. Sadly, however, their fleshing out is far from satisfactory. The back stories are superficial (especially Abhishek), the Rana-Bipasha romance development extremely weak and their scenes after she has become Aditya Pancholi’s keep fail to have an impact or make you care about them. In fact, you don’t really care enough for any of the central characters and even the few interesting ideas – the identity of the ‘big boss’ – suffer from weak execution.
The performances fail to lift the film. Abhishek plays cool dude again with shades of grey and while this appears right up his alley and admittedly he has his moments, there are times he ends up making demented faces like his Raavan act. Bipasha has to ‘act’ and ‘act’ to convey anything, Rana Daggubati admittedly has good screen presence but is otherwise wooden while Anaitha Nair has nothing to do. Prateik is so-so, Govind Namdeo is his usual loud self while Aditya Pancholi is weak and uninteresting reminding you of the worst of old Hindi cinema where the villains kept up charitable fronts. Alfred Hitchcock always said stronger the villain, better the film as the hero then has to be that much stronger to surmount the villain. The Sippy’s own Sholay (1975) is the classic example. Vidya Balan adds nothing really with her cameo but then her role is treated such. The done to death stereotype of the woman in white calling out to her man in his last moments… what can one say?
The technicalities too are disappointing for an A-film of this sort. The camerawork is inconsistent, the editing flow choppy and though Pritam’s music is adequate, the song picturisations do nothing – Abhishek’s song looking totally out of place and the item number Mit Jaaye Gam taking the cake. Dev Anand should seriously sue for what has been done to his classic song. 40 years down, Zeenie Baby can comfortably relax knowing the song will always, always be her own. Deepika’s graceless, ‘stoned’ shaking, the silly choreography, the awful remix, weird lyrics all only reinforce to you just how good the original song was. The film is the first Indian movie to be mixed in Dolby 7.1 but really the theatre one saw it in did not seem to be upgraded for the same so one cannot really comment on Manas Choudhury’s sound design. The action scenes are ok, the visual effects get on the nerves rather than give the film style and attitude and they too are inconsistent, unable to give the film an overall coherent style as too much is packed in. Mention, however, must be made of some of the smart dialogue, particularly with Govind Namdeo’s character.
All in all, as one desperately looks for better films from Bollywood, rest assured this one isn’t it – and it has to be said – is actually quite dumless.
Hindi, Thriller, Color