Dum Maaro Dum: Go Ahead, Take a Toke

Friends, here are some rather rushed initial thoughts from the road, trying to get these online before the coffee shop and its Wifi close down….

Something happens to me when we’re at the beginning of spring, and the days are getting warmer. A movie will come along that offers a welcome glimpse of summer for two hours, until you exit the theater and the still-cold night air hits you. Three years back, it was Tashan, a film I really enjoyed and still do.

Last night in Manhattan, it was Dum Maaro Dum.

Boarding school buddies Rohan Sippy and Abhishek Bachchan (here sporting a Freddie Mercury ‘tache) have again collaborated (this is their third flic after Kuch Naa Kaho and Bluffmaster). Located in Goa, the story has ACP Vishnu Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan) chasing down the city’s biggest druglord Lorsa Biscuita (Aditya Pancholi) for very personal motives. Biscuita’s drug business has managed to cause a domino effect of ruination in the lives of a string of interconnected people: Lorry (Prateik), the lovesick teen desperate to follow his girlfriend to the US but who doesn’t have the money, Zoe (Bipasha Basu) the ambitious would-be air hostess, and her shaggy, bighearted boyfriend Joki (Rana Daggubati).

As he did with Bluffmaster, Rohan Sippy creates a sometimes funny, dark, stylish story that has at its core a man who has lost his love and is trying to set things right because of that. Rather than watching Abhi and Piggy Chops cavort around Bombay, here he is older and jaded as he roughs up the bad guys in Goa. The colors are bleached from all the sun and sand and the costumes reflect the hang loose vibe present at all beachfront resorts from Rio to Kingston to Ibiza, a look that particularly suits Bips and Rana.

Both look sunkissed and fabulous (she in lacy white sundresses and he in long baggy shorts & tees) and one can understand how some folks might speculate as to their possible involvement.

Prateik’s role here plays up his youth and vulnerability to the max. While it’s not as nuanced or demanding as his Munna in Dhobi Ghat, he still conveys a sweet innocence that will inspire many viewers to want to protect and comfort him.

Like many folks, this is my first time seeing Rana, and based on his work here as the faithful musician boyfriend, I would definitely check out his future work in any films, Telugu or otherwise.

I was particularly happy to see Aditya Pancholi back in major roles again recently, but I would have loved to see a little more meat on the bones of his part as Biscuita, maybe not to explain or justify his bad behavior, but just to see him not in full-on slimy crime boss mode.

Abhi does as well as he can as the man on a crimefighting mission, but his role too, aside from the glimpse of his life before The Really Bad Thing happened, is rather thin on substance too. Yes, he’s a cop, but is there nothing more to him when he’s off duty?

See it or skip it?

Based on what I’d seen in Bluffmaster, I had really high hopes for Dum Maaro Dum, but sadly, they weren’t quite met. Not that I was expecting the same type of film or the same type of story, but while Bluffmaster had gloss and good looks too, it also had some fun characters of which you grew fond.

In DMD, the good people are likeable but very much in a surface kind of way. And the story, after the climactic confrontation at a forest rave starring Deepika Padukone, has one twist and switchback too many in an ending that takes about 10 minutes too long to reach.

I’d say, see it, even with these imperfections. (It’s showing in 101 theaters across the US & Canada!) The sum total of Abhi, Bips, Rana, Prateik and Aditya is worth it.

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