Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dum Maaro Dum 

Up in Smoke

Way back in 1971, Dev Anand had captured the hippie influx and flower power generation in India and Nepal with Hare Rama Hare Krishna.  The Dum Maaro Dum ‘anthem’ of the junkie, that addictive RD Burman number, gives Rohan Sippy’s film its title and a chunk of its background score.  But the remixed version of that magical song must be the worst ever in the history of film music and the picturisation pathetic.

Sippy had a terrific idea to work with—all over the world, drugs have moved on from being a form of rebellion for the young and become a dangerous and powerful game with links to terrorism and organised crime.  India seems to have become one of the centres of the passage and distribution of narcotics that are smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

But far from being as accurate and hard-hitting as the Hollywood film, Traffic or emotionally potent as HRHK or even Jalwa (1987), Dum Maaro Dum is as tame as a teddy bears’s picnic.

The ailing Chief Minister of Goa summons disgraced cop Vishnu Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan), who is still mouring the death of his wife and child, to clean up Goa.  Easier said than done, Kamath “gets into the gutter” with two hand-picked men and starts raiding rave gatherings.

Meanwhile Lorry (Prateik), student in need of money is talked into carrying drugs and is caught at the airport.  His friend Joki (Rana Dagubatti—bad choice of film for entry into Hindi films), who has seen his girlfriend Zoe (Bipasha Basu) destroyed by a drug don Biscuita (Aditya Panscholi), tries to help the cops to break into the mafia, so that Lorry can be saved.

With this material in hand, the film staggers all over the place, with some stylishly shot scenes, but mostly a dizzying, lurching camera, and clueless screenplay.  Barely researched, it’s not realistic or hard-hitting (never mind the coarse dialogue), neither is it entertaining Bollywood masala.  How can a film be taken seriously, if in the midst of dealing with an important issue, the cop starts rapping ‘Thayn Thayn?’

Trying as hard as he can, Abhishek Bachchan never hits the right level of cool.  Rana Dagubatti gets a wimpy ‘what-the-hell-is-he-doing-here’ part, and Bipasha Basu barely registers her presence. 

Dum Maaro Dum does no justice to Goa, or to its subject that has so much thrill and tragedy built in, that it must have taken real effort not to make a watchable film.


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