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Apr 29, 2011 at 07:22pm IST

Masand: 'Dum Maaro Dum' is very haphazard

Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Prateik Babbar, Bipasha Basu, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Pancholi, Rana Daggubati

Director: Rohan Sippy

'Dum Maaro Dum', directed by Rohan Sippy, is a heady cocktail of crime, deceit, love, sex and drama. And yet, somehow, it fails to come together as the slick action thriller that it set out to be.

The chief culprit here is the haphazard way this story is told. 'Dum Maaro Dum' is about the drug mafia in Goa, and about how one surly, daredevil cop ACP Vishnu Kamath (played by Abhishek Bachchan) is sent to clean up the paradise state. The film’s first half unfolds leisurely as we’re introduced to the main players one by one. Prateik Babbar is Lorry, a nervous student seduced into breaking the law despite his own misgivings. Bipasha Basu is Zoe, a naive girl who puts ambition over her relationship. And Rana Daggubati is Joki, an idealistic musician who watches dear ones make bad decisions. The lives of each of these characters intersect when they become intentionally or accidentally involved in Goa’s drug trade, run by Aditya Pancholi’s character Lorsa Biscuta.

On paper, writer Sridhar Raghavan offers damaged characters that aren’t hard to sympathize with. But the moment you find yourself becoming involved with a character, the screenplay shuttles quickly onto the next, leaving you ultimately disconnected with their pain. Back-stories and motives in this film are so laughably silly it’s hard to take them seriously.

Early on in 'Dum Maaro Dum' it becomes clear that the script’s playing second fiddle to the stylish technical treatment – from snazzy editing tricks and edgy cinematography to a pulsating background score. Like the director’s last film, 'Bluffmaster', this one too is gimmicky in the way it’s pieced together.

Post-intermission the film picks up pace, chiefly because you start investing in the character of the determined cop Kamath, played with bite by Abhishek Bachchan. Alas, this too starts weighing in on you with those unending twists and turns, giant loopholes in the plot, and a climax that is quite frankly, underwhelming.

You get the feeling the actors too were at sea here; except Abhishek Bachchan there isn’t any performance to take home. Prateik Babbar starts off convincingly, but succumbs to the film’s hammy tone, and Rana Daggubati’s towering physicality seems wasted in a thankless role. Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone’s defiant dancing to the track 'Mit jaaye gum' does liven up the grim second half, but Bipasha Basu is missing her usual spunk, and even Vidya Balan’s shadowy presence as Kamath’s dead wife barely touches an emotional note.

There are some things, however, that this film does get right. As with the way Sippy mixed Mumbai into 'Bluffmaster’s genes, Goa too is almost a character in 'Dum Maaro Dum', and you get a strong sense of the place in most scenes. The action sequences add style to the story, with more than one smartly-filmed chase scene. The dialogues too pack quite a punch, before it all starts to feel too much.

In the end, it’s Abhishek Bachchan who throws you with his sheer presence. He plays Kamath with just the right amount of steely nerve and naked emotions. Unfortunately it isn’t enough to lift this film from an average drugs-drama to a smart and entertaining action thriller. It’s got its moments, but they’re few and far between.

I’m going with two out of five for director Rohan Sippy’s 'Dum Maaro Dum'. It’s watchable, but it could easily have been so much more.

Rating: 2 / 5

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