At some point in the second half, I took a guess about what the suspense in Dum Maaro Dum (DMD) could be. “Kaun hai Michael Barbossa?” In the film’s penultimate moments, my hunch came true. There was slight disappointment. I was hoping for the revelation to be a little hard to figure. A few minutes later, though, another twist threw me completely off guard.
That’s pretty much how DMD works throughout. It wows you, only to meander for a while before finding its groove again, and the cycle is repeated. Entertaining without doubt, but you wish the inconsistencies didn’t come to spoil the party from time to time.
Nor did the songs. Though the running time is an apt two-and-a-quarter hours, with a couple of songs out DMD would have been much tighter and a lot more enjoyable.
When ACP Vishnu Kamath (Bachchan) starts busting the drug scene in Goa, for example, the song 'Thayn Thayn' — shot like a music video — is interspersed with the action, taking away from the grittiness. Also, romantic ditties springing up right after edge-of-the-seat sequences are a complete downer.
DMD traces the lives of three characters — Lorry (Prateik), a 17-year-old local in Goa who wants to fly to the States with his girlfriend but doesn’t have the money to do so; Vishnu Kamath, a police officer who is dealing with depression after the death of his wife and son in an accident; and Joki (Rana), a musician.
The lives of all are connected to the drug trade in Goa. Lorry gets trapped into being a carrier to the US and is nabbed by the police, Kamath is fighting to bring down the empire of Lorsa Biscuita (Aditya Panscholi) and his many cronies instrumental in running the drug business, and Joki has lost his girlfriend Zoe (Bipasha) to drug addiction.
The key to all their problems lies with one man – Michael Barbossa — whom only Biscuita knows, and who comes to the rescue of Goan drug lords when they need him. But who is Michael Barbossa?
With Dum Maaro Dum , director Rohan Sippy seems to have found a comfort zone he was probably missing in his earlier films. Aided by a script laden with witty repartee and twists-and-turns by Sridhar Raghavan, Sippy plays commander to an able bunch of technicians, who execute his vision in style.
Amit Roy’s cinematography captures Goa – sepia tone et al – in a manner that films set there in the past haven’t. The production design helps create the right atmosphere while the background score by Midival Punditz brings alive the inherent thrill.
But in what should have been a no-holds-barred thriller that gives you no space to breathe, sub-plots about lost loves, dead wives and dukhiyari maas make DMD an arduous watch.
The cast is a mix of the surprisingly good to the outrageously bad. Prateik, with a dialogue delivery to rival Sonam Kapoor’s and a high-pitched voice that would have been a misfit if not for the clueless teenager he is supposed to be playing, is just about okay.
Rana Daggubati gets some of the best lines in the film – “tumhare paas bangla hai, gaadi hai... mere paas maal hai” – and strikes you with his persona and voice, but not enough to mask acting deficiencies.
The film’s biggest drawback, in terms of casting, is Aditya Panscholi as Lorsa Biscuita. Taking on a role that seemed to have been written with Sanjay Dutt in mind (Pancholi seems like a duplicate, with the French beard and leather jackets), Biscuita needed an actor with a range that oscillated from charming to maniacal to dangerous. Panscholi musters none of those emotions.
Abhishek Bachchan is in fine form after a long time, walking the thin line between the cool and the angsty with effortless ease. Raghavan, who wrote the wonderful character of DCP Anant Shrivastav played by Amitabh Bachchan in Khakee, gives Abhishek a cop character that’s right up his alley, and the actor doesn’t disappoint.
All in all, DMD leaves you occasionally on a high, but also a tad disappointed. With the body of a modern thriller and the soul of a 1970s masala film, the idea behind the hybridisation had potential, but DMD falls slightly short.
Watch it nonetheless. The heady cocktail of sex, drugs and dialoguebaazi that Dum Maaro Dum presents you with is hard to come by.