Dum Maaro Dum – Lots of Smoke, too little Fire

This week’s latest Bollywood release is Dum Maaro Dum. The movie is a big film releasing after a long while and was eagerly looked forward to with its chartbusting song, cutting-edge promos and a drug-mafia story set in exotic Goa locales starring Abhishek Bachchan in a tough cop role out to clean the drug infested, mafia driven underworld of Goa.The film also stars Rana Daggubatti, Bipasha Basu, Pratiek and Aditya Pancholi amongst many others.

The film is set in Goa and here Goa is shown in a very different light from what we are used to seeing. Director Rohan Sippy has shown a realistic view of Goa unlike the fictitious view we get in past films. Goa shown here is neither the sweet romantic Goa of ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’ or the south bombayish view of Goa as in ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. Goa’s underbelly is exposed, its drug trade, local life and sun-kissed atmosphere is thoroughly captured. Beach, beautiful women, booze and drugs they form the identity of Goa.

The first half of the film is real breezy and sets up back-stories of various characters very nicely. The movie moves at a feverish pace and sets up the meeting of all its leads at the Goa airport, almost reminder of ‘Yuvaa’ in which 3 stories collide on a Kolkata bridge. The movie also tends to remind one of gritty cop drama ‘Sarfarosh’ to an extent. The thriller is very well written by Sridhar Raghavan, at least the first half,  however in the 2nd half of the film the writing goes a bit haywire.

The movie is about Police trying to clean up Goa from the clutches of  local and international Mafias acting in various parts of Goa, ruling their various fiefdoms with the power of drug money. Abhishek Bachchan with ‘nothing to lose’ cop is the fearless cop out to topple mafia lord Aditya Pancholi’s world. Prateik is the teenager with dreams and hope and love but caught in the mafia trap, he represents what Goa was before the drug money came in, soft, hopeful, dreamy, lazy and romantic. Rana Daggubatti who has lost his past girlfriend Bipasha Basu to the greed and lure of drug money is initially a mute spectator to the sorry tale the youth gone haywire. He later gets into the act along with ACP Kamath in the hunt for the master drug-pin Micheal Barbossa. Rana represents the Goa of today which has seen it all and continues to be see the same story unfold yet again and again. The second half of the film slightly disappoints as the suspense when revealed isn’t a big shocker but almost expected and almost all the twists can easily be predicted by the viewer. The film could have been much better if the second half was handled in a better way.

Abhishek Bachchan as Inspector Vishnu Kamath lives up to his role and how much ever his critics hate him, one has to agree that slightly crooked and touch cop acts suits him very well. Abhishek is a star who everybody loves to hate and dislike partly for no fault of his, partly due to the expectations people had in him and also partly due to his lazy selection of roles. But he lives upto the role here although he needed a much better conclusion to his role in the end. Slightly disappointing to see him not in focus at the end. Telugu star Rana Daggubatti as the local Goan singer Joki has a nice presence and easy on the eye to look but has similar expressions throughout. He does have a nice role too and by the end he becomes the central figure to the story.  Bipasha Basu as the girl gone the wrong path is okay and is almost a predictable act. Aditya Pancholi is nice as the Mafia boss Biscuta and he is seen on screen after a while. Prateik as the teenage is okay and his love story with Anaita Nair looks cute, but he quickly needs to re-invent himself or else he’ll be doing this same kind of roles all the time. Also he needs to do something about his squeaky voice !! Deepika Padukone in the much hyped and publicized ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ remix song looks drugged out, which of course suits the look of the song. Govind Namdeo and Muzzamil as cops are wonderful.

Technically the film is  excellent and is very well shot and edited. The entire look of the film is superb and suits the mood and story of the film. The background score is catchy and the songs are nice. The film is smartly shot and some of the scenes are indeed dark but overall Goa is shown in a different light altogether. The concept and core idea is nice but script and screenplay goes wrong in the later portion and the ending doesn’t satisfy you completely with several loose ends. It could have been a huge bonfire in the making but leaves us only with lots of smoke.

Dum Maaro Dum is certainly a one time watch.

My Ratings –  7/10 –  Entertaining watch. Not great but good enough.

No One Killed Jessica – Fictional Truth

No One Killed Jessica is based on the recent high profile murder case of Model Jessica Lal by the accused Manu Sharma. This fact was known to almost everybody who went in to see the movie. The promos had revealed it all plus the murder case was in headlines far too long to fade away from public memory. So the best or the worst part of the film was that everybody knew the story and what would happen the minute the film started. The movie indeed has fictionalized the story and has totally fictional characters, ( Rani Mukerji’s Barkha Dutt inspired character has nothing to do with this case in real life), but it was quite apparent that the core of the film is the same as the newspaper headlines that hogged for years.

The movie promises well but the director Raj Kumar Gupta ( of Aamir)  is unable to decide whether to make a hardcore documentary kind of film or fictionalize it and make it more filmy. By Introducing Rani Mukerji as the central character and the ‘voice’ behind the film the maker begins by fictionalizing the facts and mixes up showing true facts. Vidya Balan as Sabrina Lal, the murder victim’s plain-jane sister carries her act fine but then in the 2nd half just gives up the fight and leaves everything for Rani Mukerji’s character to do. The movie has some gripping moments especially initially but the main problem with it as that everything is known right from twists to endings thanks to the case being discussed so much in media. Although Vidya Balan acts quite decent and looks natural as the grieving sister of the murder victim. She does go hyper in some scenes but overall she is the only redeeming factor in this over-the-top fictionalized factual film. Myra portraying murdered Jessica Lal looks quite good and acts well too. Rajesh Sharma as the Inspector with heart actually should have been the protagonist  and voice behind  the movie. Neil Bhoopalam playing the lame duck ‘Shayan Munshi’ character and other people representing lawyers and witnesses and all are ordinary

Coming to the character of Rani Mukerji, Mira. Why does the character have to be based on Barkha Dutt ?  Why is Barkha Dutt the only journalist ever portrayed in films? What is the real Barkha Dutt’s contribution as a journalist? Yes, she was in Kargil and she has covered many other scams but why model Rani’s character based on her? Is real Barkha Dutt like how Rani is portrayed in the film? I doubt so. Does a ‘modern’ career-minded Indian woman has to smoke and mouth Gaalis in every 2nd sentence just to show how ‘ forward’ thinking she is ? Rani Mukerji mouths the choicest of abuses without ever meaning them and needing them. It all looks fake when a dumb Indian flyer describes Kargil war as ‘cool’ as a video game and Rai retors back with a ‘cuss’ word, what was the need of that scene? Was it just created to be used for promos and get silly Indian viewers in the hall expecting Rani Mukerji to be as lewd as in the promo !!! Also why does Barkha and NDTV get credit for everything when they had nothing to do with the real case. Why wasn’t the real people of ‘Tehelka’ given just a Thank you at the end and not the ‘lead’ ? Was NDTV’s inclusion in the film paid for?? I hope Nira Radia didnt fix this deal 🙂

The film has issues with detailing as well and misses out many times on that front. Factual Errors I spotted were wrong dates being used when Vidya is interviewed for the first time on TV, wrong news messages used as ticker tapes in many scenes. Delhi Metro being shown active in 1999 !! Mention of Barack Obama in one of the news headlines in 2000 !! The film looks more fake with such silly mistakes. Camerawork is slightly superior though and the music by Amit Trivedi is quite popular these days although I have my issues with silly song like ‘ aali re saali re, halkat ,moonh phat’ kind of song describing Rani Mukerji.

Personally I did not find the film as engaging as it promised and I was underwhelmed after watching it as perhaps I had expected more from the first film of this decade. The film should have stuck to either serious documentary style of film or a totally masala fictionalized account of the event. In between and mish-mash did not work for me.

My Ratings: 6.5/10 – Not bad but not great either.

P.S. Killer suggestion –  if the makers were really brave enough and waned to make a masala entertainer from thie film then they should have dropped Rani Mukerji and taken SUNNY DEOL as the firebrand reporter. Sunny paji personally man-handling witnesses and lawyers and judge would be some sight and Jessica would have got a favorable judgement rather soon.

Bollywood – What next in 2011?

The year 2010 is gone, well almost. The films have come and films have gone , some have succeeded and many have flopped. The latest release ‘Tees Maar Khan’ did get a big opening weekend but then audiences saw through it and the movie failed from the 4th day and it would barely manage to cover its huge investments of 65 Crores knocking the poor distributors and  taking with it the reputations of its director Farah Khan and actors Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. Many of the small films released this year have done lot better than many big budget disasters.

2011 has quite a few big films releasing in first few weeks itself mainly to avoid the World Cup Cricket to be held from February 2011. First of its release would be Rajkumar Gupta directed thriller ‘No One Killed Jessica’ based on the infamous Jessica Lall murder case starring Rani Mukherji as the firebrand journalist following the case and subtle Vidya Balan as Jessica’s sister. The film does have quite different music loved by many and the promos of the films are quite a Hit with people. The  film does have lot of potential and is eagerly awaited.

Next up is the mad-cap Deol trio comedy ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana‘ starring the 3 Deols. The film’s promos are loved by all and the film promises to be a laugh riot. The music is quite popular and the dialogue promos make the film an exciting prospect. This film releases on 14th Janury.

21st January sees perhaps the biggest film if this half of the year, although not a conventional movie but a movie starring Aamir Khan is always a big proposition. ‘Dhobi Ghat‘ directed by Kiran Rao starring Aamir and Prateik Babbar promises to be a great film and based on early reviews from Toronto Film Festival where this film was shown, this one could perhaps be the best film to come out in a while.

‘Dil toh Baccha hai Jee’ starring Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and Omi Vaidya is another comedy releasing this month in the last week. Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar this film does look different from regular slapstick comedies we have been watching.

Early February also looks busy with Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ staring Priyanka Chopra and ‘Patiala House’ starring Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma releases. There are many other smaller budget and medium budget films releasing as well.

Let us see if any of the above big budget films succeed in first couple of months of the year 2011 or the trend of small films doing better continues in 2010.

My Bet for the first 2 months – Dhobi Ghat would be the best of the lot,  Yamla Pagla Deewana to collect good box office money and No One Killed Jessica to be the ‘dark horse’.