Dum Maaro Dum

Dum Maaro Dum

Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Prateik Babbar, Rana Dagubatti, Aditya Pancholi, Anaitha Nair, Gulshan Devaiah

Director : Rohan Sippy

Rating**

Drug mafias. Sylvan havens turning into cocaine outposts. Trapped innocents. And a tough-talking cop as saviour. Dum Maaro Dum has a story with the right mix for a thriller, and takes off the mark unerringly, lining up all its ducks in a smart, stylish row. But the great start is belied by a stuttering momentum, making it a film of intermittent pleasures. ACP Vishnu Kamath (Bachchan) arrives in Goa on a twin mission. To put behind a personal tragedy, and to clean up a town which has been parceled out amongst international drug cartels, at the head of which is the massively-tattooed Lorsa Biscuita (Pancholi). With the help of his hand-picked team, he's on the trail of those who spread the poison, encountering an assortment of characters: the young, vulnerable Lorry (Prateik), the luscious airhostess-turned-user Zoe (Basu), her caring boyfriend, local musician Joki (Dagubatti), and a network of drug suppliers.

The film gets its little people right. Prateik's Lorry, whose need for quick money is exploited by those on the constant lookout for couriers, is one of the better things about Dum Maaro Dum. So is new-to-Bollywood Telegu star Dagubatti, who gives us exactly what he's asked to do, regardless of the mismatched dub for his voice. In a tiny cameo as a drug peddler-cum-recruiter, newbie Gulshan Devaiah has presence. It's also refreshing to see Goa not just as the series of exotic, blindingly technicoloured picture postcards it usually ends up being in most Bollywood outings. This Goa has dark patches, fuelled by ecstasy-laden fantasies, and raves that treat those swaying to a tune only they can hear as lost souls.

Where Dum Maaro Dum falters is in its uneven tone, and in its less-than-impressive principal characters the hero, and the villain. When cops with a stated intent are made to sing songs, even stylised rap, you get an instant loss of purpose: is Vishnu Kamath a jokey comic-book hero, underlined by zippy lines on screen that feel straight out of animated takes, or a man who sheds serious blood, and feels the pain? In other words, a true-blue cop, unafraid to get down and dirty and come up with everything showing? Bachchan goes through the moves (which include a few languid action sequences), but the film's insistent attempt at uber coolness while trying to address both the hip crowd and the front-benchers (Kamath gets to say a classic seeti-taali line to a fellow cop: "ya toh tum thakey huey ho, ya bikey huey") makes him inert.

... contd.

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