Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dus Plus... 


Bollywood directors complain quite often that they can’t match Hollywood standards, because they do not have those budgets or that kind of technical support. But when they do get a generous budget and tons of gleaming gadgetry, they still make a brainless caper like Dus.

Anubhav Sinha attempts a big action thriller after two small romantic films, and goes all out with a line-up of stars, foreign locations, guns, bombs, car chases, international terrorists (suddenly after the London bombings the deju vu inducing theme becomes relevant again), the works—all going towards embellishing a feeble plot.

The anti-terrorist cell made up of a grim bunch led by Siddhant (Sanjay Dutt) get information that something big is going to happen on May 10, but they don’t know what or where? They know a mysterious Jamwal is behind the plot, but they don’t know who he is.

This could have made for a real pulse-pounding thriller, if only the guys (Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan, Sunil Shetty) and gals (Shilpa Shetty in great shape, Esha Deol in a frightful wig) didn’t go about it in such a ham-handed fashion, taking diversions to sing and dance, solve marital problems, go into unnecessary flashback, all leading up to a really tame climax in a Canadian stadium.

Still, for action buffs Dus offers enough shootouts and explosions (Allan Amin having a blast), in a way delivering what it promises in promos. The performances are mostly competent — with Pankaj Kapur stealing scenes with his rustic Punjabi act. The music (Vishal-Shekhar) is catchy—though the popular Dus Bahane number is used up in the credits. Yet another film with more style than substance!


Ok, so the guys get their fill of eye candy, what with Shilpa and Shamita Shetty showing off their gorgeous bods. And what do the gals get? The two babes fighting over Manoj Bajpai? Who, even with shirt off, is not Baywatch material by any stretch of the imagination!

And why is the viewer even noticing the colour and shape of the stars’ skins? Because there is nothing else on offer in this Deepak Tijori film—this and an unmanageable load of red herrings.

Newly widowed millionairess Ria (Shamita Shetty) falls for the creative head of the agency handling her company’s account. Aditya (Manoj Bajpai) is married to Neha (Shilpa Shetty) and has a kid, but his small voice of conscience cannot fight Ria’s predatory attacks.

When he backs out, she gets vindictive and ends up dead on the living rook floor. Who done it? By this time, the film has quite forgotten the corpse of Ria’s husband found in the first scene, and has to scramble to tie up all the loose end in a crazily inept court scene.

The cops following around a glowering boss (Kelly Dorje) are more interested in cautioning Aditya against an affair with Ria, rather than finding out who killed the husband.


Manish Jha asks us to imagine a nation without women—a consequence of rampant female foeticide. It is a very interesting idea and would make for a great allegorical (since sci-fi doesn’t work with Indian audiences) movie, if done with humour and imagination. But the director goes for the shocking and sensational approach, which completely destroys the pro-woman message he must have intended.

In Jha’s all male world, the only thing men miss is sex and someone to cook and clean. In one such village in one such family of six, the men are getting increasingly frustrated, when a sole female is accidentally discovered by a priest. Kalki (Tulip Joshi) is married to all five brothers for a sum of five lakhs (rather measly even by today’s standards and this story is set in the future), but the father-in-law (Sudhir Pandey) wants to use her too.

She undergoes a nightly sexual assault by six men-- the only brother (Sushant Singh) who really loves her is killed by his own family. When Kalki attempts to escape, she is tried in the barn like a cow and repeatedly raped. In revenge for the killing of her sympathetic servant she is raped by the rest of the village too. Despite this, she not just survives, but gets pregnant and gives birth to a child. It’s not right to reveal the end, but it is as excessive as the rest of the film.

If Jha’s objective was to show what happens when women are wiped out from this world, the relentless brutality does just the opposite. You come out feeling that: a) women are the cause of all the violence in the world, since everybody seemed to exist in peace before Kalki came along; b) such a world does not deserve women, and the girl child is better off dead; c) a majority of men who go to see this film, will do so for the wrong reasons.

The idea is very far-fetched in a realistic scenario—even if female foetuses are aborted, what happened to the older women? Since there is a young boy seen in the film, it couldn’t have been too long since the supposed destruction of all women in the village/ country —did the men kill women of all ages at the same time? Because such a situation is not possible, the film needed to be treated in horror/fantasy style.

However, at a time, when original ideas are in such short supply, at least Jha attempted such an offbeat film, never mind if it looks like it was made to be noticed in the international film festival circuit.


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