Mayank Shekhar's review: Dum Maaro Dum


By Hindustan Times

Dum Maaro Dum
Director: Rohan Sippy
Actors: Abhishek Bachchan, Prateik Babbar, Rana Daggubati
Rating: ***

'Susegaad', a Konkani word of Portuguese origin that this film uses a lot, aptly describes the Goan state of mind. The word's often misinterpreted to mean a bummer. It refers to a person who's laidback, relaxed (has probably discovered a brighter meaning of life).

Only a community as self-assured and chilled-out as the Goans would allow their own city-state's map to be sharply divided among drug cartels operated by outsiders: the Nigerian mafia (dwindling now), the Russians and East Europeans (their influx being the highest lately), the Israelis, the Brits (traditionally the most popular patrons)… It's in a movie with firangi villains like these that you truly miss the good ol' bumbling Bob Christo, who passed away recently. His look-alike can never quite cut it!

The state also has no housing problems. Because, as we learn, everyone lives inside the pocket of one Biscuita (Aditya Pancholi). He runs a de-addiction centre by day, controls the entire drug trade by night, mainly through flights out. An airhostess (Bipasha Basu) is on his payroll. It's hard to tell why psychotropic drugs need to be shipped out of Goa into New York and other cities, when the market for imports lies within the state itself.

The beach town now attracts only white 'raving' revelers who pop pills, snort coke. It's post-flower power. Calm, utopian hippies of the '60s, who also believed in selfless, spiritual communing with nature, are gone. This sunburnt, breathless crime scene, strikingly shot (Amit Roy) captures contemporary Goa for purposes of a pure thriller alone. One of the things the camera reveals is its instant love for the intuitive, evasive Prateik Babbar.

This boy Lawrence, somewhat sold to his fondness for football, female company (not feni yet) is now in jail for slipping drugs into his airline bag. The carriage fee could pay for his college education in the US. His friend, another 'susegaad' (Rana Daggubati, screen presence just about as powerful as his last name) wants to get him out of trouble. The trouble, for the state and its status quo at this point, is a Maharasthtrian-Goan officer called ACP Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan): a one-man rapid action force. Stories of these lead characters are separately chapterised, as so many screenplays are these days.

The cards look quite neatly stacked up for a script (Shridhar Raghavan) that seems at least well written up till the interval. Beyond which, pretty much everything could be 'Goan with the wind'. Dialogue appear inspired from terse copies of advertising, the allusion sometimes getting a little more cutesy and direct than you'd imagine: "Hum Goans mehmanon ka swagat welcome drink ke saath karte hain (Pan Parag). Har ghar apne maalik ke baare mein kuch kehta hai (Asian Paints)." This quip writing is something the '70s gurus Salim-Javed were best known for. 'Mere paas maal hai' is fair tribute to their most famous Hindi film line!

This ACP Kamath has been given a free hand to curb the drug menace by his state's chief, who's now terminally ill to care for the fallout of such a politically sensitive move. Everyone seems involved in this racket, succumb as they all do to "Newton's fourth law of motion": 'Kuch khane ke liye kuch khona padta hai (You have to lose some to win some)'. In the time honoured tradition of Beverly Hills Cops, coolio Kamath puts together a SWAT team, cracks down on the drug lords.

The central figure Biscuita is obviously known. There's another kingpin, a possible mole, a mysterious entity, the audience isn't quite privy to yet. We hear him talk once. The inimitable twang of the concerned actor unnecessarily gives it away. The thriller's deductive logic, in general, won't make Feluda or Byomkesh Bakshi particularly proud either. This is the director Sippy's third film in eight years (the slick caper Bluff Master remains still his best so far).

Would chunks of the huge masses, this movie's intended for, rush to theatres for this anyway? Immediately? I'm not sure. They usually go in for the music first. This film has none. The theme and title track is a skewed version of an RD Burman masterpiece; riffs from Mission Impossible play in the background; the other song sounds inspired from the music composer Pritam's own 'Tera Hone Laga Hai' (Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani); 'Thayn Thayn' is a belaboured addition. Sad. The setting could make for a seriously scintillating, trippy soundtrack.

It just about makes for an enticing thriller here. There's probably an even better film when compressed. But if you stay 'susegaad', relaxed, laidback, it's unlikely that you'll regret the promise of entertainment this picture meets in major portions. That, as you'd know, is saying a lot.