By MovieTalkies.com, 22 April 2011
There is such a thing as a point of desperation. With a string of flops behind him, including the recently released… and reviled… Game, Abhishek Bachchan might be just about there, simply yearning for a hit. Fortunately for him, Dum Maaro Dum could be the answer to his prayers. Though it could have done with a tighter treatment, Bachchan's latest is certainly one of his better releases gracing cinema screens.
The much maligned title track notwithstanding, DMD's two and a quarter hour runtime makes for a fairly interesting watch and credit is due to director Rohan Sippy and writer Shridhar Raghavan who construct quite a gripping mystery, wrapped around the drug trade in Goa.
The plot weaves together the lives of three characters, each of them touched by the taint of drugs. There's ACP Vishnu Kamath, a tenacious cop on the narco beat, intent on 'cleaning out the gutters of Goa', as he puts it, battling his personal demons even as he takes on the reigning drug lord of the state, the vicious Lorsa Biscuita. Joachim, AKA Joki, is a musician who has lost his girlfriend Zoe, to the world of Lorsa's drug trade and is now intent on not letting the same happen to his 16 year old friend Lorry, who is simply looking for a ticket out of Goa to the US, being unable to afford the American university education that his girlfriend has been served up in a scholarship.
And then, there's Michael Barbossa. A mysterious presence through Goa, the shape shifting, name changing Barbossa comes to the rescue of the drug mafia every time they're under attack and ties together the lives of all three, Kamath, Joki and Lorry. Decode his identity, and the trio get their lives back.
DMD works largely because of this central suspense behind Barbossa that permeates the plot. Populated by a slew of tertiary characters like Lorry's dealer friends, Ricky and Rozanna; Kamath's subordinates Mercy D'Costa and Rane, the film moves quickly in the first half to establish the characters of each of the protagonists and then bites right into the meat of the story, chasing Barbossa and Lorsa Biscuita through to the end, into quite an unexpected, and yes, in some ways stunning, climax.
Sippy and Raghavan are helped along by Purva Naresh, who pens some memorable dialogues to go with the plot, most of them mouthed by Abhishek's gritty Kamath, like the already famous line where he justifies drinking on the job, saying, “Main sirf duty pe peeta hoon. Apne municipality bhaiyon se seekhe hoon. Hamesha doh teen lagakar hi gutter mein ghuste hain.” But the best dialogue in the film belongs to Joki, who gets to put his own spin on a Salim Javed classic, saying “Mere paas maal hai.”
Sippy's vision is also aided by Amit Roy's cinematography talents, which capture picture postcards of Goa onscreen, catching the tourist paradise in all its hues.
Yet, there some follies that make DMD just a good movie, not great. For one, while Sippy paces his film fairly well in the first half, somewhere along the way, it seems to lose some steam as he brings in a few angles, like the one at the juvenile centre and between Joki and Zoe, that don't really add much to the plot and take the focus away from the core of the story.
Alternately, Sippy's use of his songs, improbably inserting them at random, also hampers the otherwise tight pacing of the film. A prime example of this is Abhishek's thayn thayn track, which comes in just as Bachchan's Kamath is finding his footing at the start of the film. Though it is used to montage Kamath's war against the drug mafia, the number's picturisation makes it seem like a music video in the midst of the film, more than something that belongs in a gritty police sequence. Te amo, the love song between Joki and Zoe, halfway through the film, works the same way. Fortunately, the film manages to redeem itself and get back on track, just as the climax approaches.
On the acting side, Abhishek Bachchan is back in sharp form here. And after quite a while, it must be said. Bachchan's Kamath is perhaps one of the most interesting characters he's portrayed so far and Abhishek does a fine job of it, playing the dogged cop to his mercurial best. Prateik, on the other hand, seems to be missing his punch and almost comes off as being miscast as the young Lorry. His dialogue delivery is quite stilted, and he simply doesn't manage to pull off the believable desperation that his character requires.
Rana Daggubati, on the other hand, is quite a find by Sippy. Though the Southern star needs to work on his Hindi delivery, the man has quite a presence onscreen and could do well with grittier roles. Bipasha as Zoe, though, is a neglected character and doesn't have much to do on screen, though she does well with what she gets.
Aditya Pancholi as Lorsa comes across as one of the big missteps in casting. Just as Prateik doesn't manage Lorry's desperation, Pancholi simply can't contend with the sort of menacing presence that a role like Lorsa requires. In fact, more than the main drug lord and don, Pancholi comes off more as a lumbering, than a looming danger. The supporting characters on the other hand, like Govind Namdev's Rane and Bugs Bhargava's ailing minister, as well as the actors who play Ricky and Mercy, add immensely to the texture of the film. Vidya Balan also comes in for a bit of a cameo, and does just about okay.
Pritam's musical contribution seem to be missing its usual sharp edge here. While the background score, composed by the MIDIval Punditz, is quite organically done, Pritam's sounds are just about average here. While Papon's jiyein kyun is a splendid number, the love song te amo is distracting. Thayn thayn is marred by its picturisation, but the title track, the film's take on the RD classic, dum maaro dum, is surprisingly better as a visual than it has been as an audio number, Deepika's presence doing wonders for its appeal. Still, the lyrics are an atrocity that just cannot be helped.
Though it has its weaknesses, Dum Maaro Dum seems to be just what the doctor ordered for Abhishek Bachchan, who has the most riding on this release. While the film could have been better with some judicious editing, smarter use of its songs, and more appropriate casting, DMD works because it more or less has its eyes set on the exciting central mystery to hold the audience's attention. Certainly watchable fare this, one has to say, dum hai, boss…!