Film Review: Dum Maaro Dum

Directed by: Rohan Sippy

Starring: Abhshek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Prateik Babbar, Rana Dagubatti and Aditya Panscholi

All pictures courtesy of:

WARNING: Contains spoilers – if you do not wish to know what happens before seeing the film, please revisit my review after seeing the film.

It is strange how the weather and cinema, two unlikely bedfellows, share a close relationship. Although cinema is one activity that is weather proof (well, in theory it is – you should be able to go into a cinema and forget the world outside – unless it is an outdoor cinema…) the weather can affect whether audiences will go to the cinema; when the weather is awful, it is a sensible option perhaps to go and immerse oneself in a different world whereas when the weather is gorgeous and one lives in a country which only seems to get this weather for a few months of the year, it then falls down to whether the film in question will be worth sacrificing a dose of Vitamin D for. With this in mind, I made my way to watch Dum Maaro Dum. It seemed the weather had gotten there before me as the air conditioning was not working at the multiplex and the cinema were offering a refund if people felt the heat was unbearable 20 minutes after the film had started (how I wish a similar cause had applied to Thank You).

Still, always up for a challenge (Bikram reviewing anyone?), I decided it would be a good test to see if the film was bearable and was even more pleased to find a near empty cinema, with one of the better screens in the multiplex (as the cinema I go to is in an old style building) and a spotless cinema (I cannot tell you how nice it was to sit in a clean seat with no nacho/popcorn debris or guacamole sauce liberally applied to the seat and arm rest). Although the usher made no secret of the fact that he thought I was crazy to come to the cinema on such a beautiful day, I resisted the urge to lecture him on the power of cinema – after all, I had a film to watch…

DMD is set in Goa and tells the stories of five different characters who are all linked by drugs – so there is Vishnu (Bachchan), a corrupt cop who has changed his path and is determined to bust the drug cartels, Zoe (Basu) an ambitious girl who pays a high price for her ambition and has to take drugs to forget her woes, her ex boyfriend Joki (Dagubatti) who remains clean but is affected by Zoe’s drug use, Lorry (Babbar) an innocent young man who gets caught trafficking drugs and Lorca (Panscholi) a ruthless drug baron who runs the biggest drugs cartel in town. How drugs brings all these people together forms the crux of DMD.

DMD is a well made film which creates a dark world where drugs permeate every class in society and a place where life itself is cheap and expendable. Using Goa as a backdrop works well as Goa is referred to as paradise and the drugs as the “cancer of paradise”. However, there is massive whirlpool of darkness at the heart of DMD, which the film seems to deliberately avoid and skirt around, much to its detriment. Although the alternative reality is successfully established, DMD doesn’t get down and dirty with drugs nor does it show the awful consequences of drug abuse and this is where it fails as all of the characters have demons to exorcise but are unable to as the film powers towards a relatively straightforward climax. So we have Zoe who takes cocaine but still looks amazing (including an impressive hair swish right after snorting a line) or Lorca who takes the product he peddles but suffers no health repercussions – worryingly, the drug taking is presented quite stylishly and in a way, the message of the film is undermined as we are told drugs are awful but the characters are affected because of the business surrounding the drugs and not by the drugs themselves which I thought was a weak point. I also didn’t like how the film tried to shoehorn in a pointless back story for Vishnu which initially confused me and then annoyed me as I felt it had no point. I was also disappointed with the initial swift resolution to Zoe and Joki’s love story – did Joki really give her up to Lorca without a fight?

Having said that, DMD is not a write off at all – the film does have some very good points too. Not only is it watchable and holds the viewer’s interest throughout but the direction and performances are good too. It is also not as predictable as I thought it would be and tries hard to fulfill its genre promise as a thriller, with Sippy’s love of 70’s and 80’s cinema neatly mixed in for good measure. I loved the presentation of the film with the tinted lenses followed by a harsh clinical feel, both of which give the film a distinctive look overall. I have never been to Goa myself but thought the way the film presented Goa in context of the story was quite good and worked well. The editing is also brisk and I liked how Sippy uses words as part of his narrative, almost referencing a comic book style. Styling wise, everyone looks good, with everything from tie dye and cheesecloth/linen harem pants to double denim and tailoring used. I thought Bipasha looked absolutely stunning with the amazing bleached blown out sun kissed hair, looking like a modern day Sophia Loren and working the hell out of what she was wearing, whether it was the Dolce and Gabanna white lace style dress with yellow bikini underneath or the purple shorts with yellow tee or the white evening dress with a cutaway panel which looks stunning. I also liked Deepika’s costume for the item number and thought Mariah Pucu totally turned it out in the sequin bikinis and the cut away Missoni style swimsuits which shows off some awesome curves. I liked all the kurtas and hippie apparel that was sported in the film and thought it looked wearable and appropriate.

Performance wise, the entire cast put in decent performances. Abhishek plays Vishnu faithfully and can’t really be faulted as he plays each facet of the role well and leads the ensemble with guts. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this role felt very familiar as we have seen Abhishek play a police officer in quite a few films and I think unless it offers something totally new, I would like to see him take on more roles like Raavan which saw a good turn from him. Prateik is very good as Lorry, making a convincing teenager and showing Lorry as a confused and vulnerable young man. I also like Rana Dagubatti who held his own and played his part well. Deepika does the item number very well though Vidya’s cameo is unremarkable in that she infuses it with grace even though there is nothing for her to do. I really liked Aditya Panscholi as Lorca, feeling he exuded the correct amount of menace and cockiness to make for quite an evil villain and really gets his teeth into making Lorca a cold hearted drug baron. Finally, I thought Bipasha was very good as Zoe, playing her with a sadness and resignation to her situation. I think the script didn’t really offer Bipasha the scope to perform but inspite of this, she still brings something extra to the role and seems to be willing to take a risk by choosing roles which don’t necessarily fit in with her wholesome image – it’s definitely a path she should continue on.

Overall, DMD is a watchable film and a far better than a film than the massive hype would suggest (generally, big hype is normally masking a lack of content). I do think it could have expanded on its potential and had it been grittier and darker, we would have had an above average film on hand. Still, the soundtrack, the presentation and the performances all give DMD something to talk about and make it worth a watch either in cinema or on DVD. Is it worth missing gorgeous weather for? Well, yes and no; yes as it will make you feel like going out in the sunshine seeing beaches and sun presented so nicely on screen and no because unless a film is unmissable, it seems the good weather will always win out and DMD is not unmissable…


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