NOT QUITE WRITE
The stars rock. The stunts rock. The dances rock. The writing sucks.
NOV 26, 2006 – THE CENSOR’S CERTIFICATE FOR DHOOM 2 has the number of reels as 16, which approximates to roughly two-and-a-half hours. But I’ll let you in on a little secret – the content, such as it is, barely fills up a couple of hours. So what’s with the extra thirty minutes, you ask? For the slow-motion shots, of course. With Bipasha Basu and Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bachchan, this is a star-studded film – what stars! what studs! – and their contracts clearly include a clause that says they will not begin emoting till they have locked eyes with the camera and had their moment (or moments, and more moments) of introductory slo-mo glory. So we’re treated to shots such as the one with Bipasha Basu – as a policewoman so bodylicious, the rest of the force is surely imagining a game of cops ‘n’ rubbers – at a shooting range, with a gun in hand, with her eyes glinting with steely concentration at the outlined target, and… with her hair billowing silkily in the wind. (That’s probably why she’s not sweating, because of that invisible fan under her chin.) And Hrithik, I don’t think I ever saw him walk normally – in normal time, that is. He gets into that slo-mo stride and keeps walking – and walking and walking – towards us. Heck, even Uday Chopra is allotted a quota of slow-motion.
And that’s why Dhoom 2 is as much an action adventure as a show reel for the gorgeousness of its stars. I got my biggest laugh in the scene where Hrithik whips up a salad dinner for himself and Aishwarya. (They’re both crooks. On their tail are cops Abhishek, Uday and Bipasha. End of functional story.) She takes a dainty bite, then asks if she could have some, you know, real food – so he fixes her a big, juicy, calorific burger. What a laugh, Aishwarya Rai wolfing down a burger! You should see her here, the sexiest she’s been in a while. (Performance-wise, she’s annoyingly affected, but hey, she was sincere in Umrao Jaan and that tanked like nobody’s business, so why complain if she’s back in plastic mode in search of a hit?) Aishwarya and Bipasha and Hrithik have quite a few dance numbers – each one wonderfully choreographed – and despite all the gravity-defying jumping around, there’s nothing on their bodies that jiggles, nothing that wobbles. Only the fact that their mouths are lip-synching the songs reminds us that they’re really actors, not androids. Oh no, burgers are definitely not what these people were having for dinner – especially while shooting a film where Hrithik is described as, “Duniya mein sabse kaabil aur cool chor,” the most capable, cool thief in the world. Dhoom 2 is the kind of star vehicle where coolness becomes the USP of a chor.
Apart from the stars – a flashy Hrithik steals the film from under Abhishek’s dour nose – the reason Dhoom 2 works to the extent that it does is because it keeps invoking masala Bollywood (Abhishek’s unexpected nod to his father’s coin-tossing in Sholay, Hrithik’s elaborately silly heists reminiscent of Dharmendra’s in Jugnu and Shalimar) and masala Hollywood, especially the Bond adventures. Like the latter, this too begins “somewhere in the desert of Namibia” and winds up “somewhere in the Fiji islands”, making a stop at colourful Rio along the way. I thought I saw the name of Vic Armstrong in the credits, and if this is the Vic Armstrong – the man behind some of the best 007 stunts – that probably explains the Live and Let Die-style water-scooter leap. Some of the action is so preposterously entertaining, I didn’t know if I was laughing with the movie or at it. But between stunts, we’re at the mercy of the writers – and I didn’t even mind the laziness in logic or continuity or character development so much as the out-of-nowhere reach for grand emotion, with a completely unneeded love story that reaches its own levels of preposterousness by the time someone witnesses an act of betrayal while dressed in a Pagliacci clown-suit. I think we’re meant to sniffle at the operatic sadness of it all, but you may end up thinking: Why all this fuss in a film that hired Bipasha Basu for the sole reason that she could put on a Baywatch-red swimsuit and jog… in slow motion?
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