In the midst of all the offbeat plots covered by Bollywood in 2016, like Kapoor and Sons, Ki and Ka, Neerja, Udta Punjab etc, there are times when one ends up craving for some old school masala, although lately, it’s only the Khans who’ve managed to keep the genre alive, especially with Salman Khan’s Sultan ending up as a monster hit. So when the trailers of Dishoom showed up, they promised old school masala with a mix of maar dhaad action and some David Dhawan styled humor, but does Dishoom deliver on this promise?
Dishoom begins with a bang in the Middle East, with the Indian cricket team’s star, Viraj Sharma (Saqib Saleem) being kidnapped by a fanatic who doesn’t wish him to play in the final against Pakistan, in a video that reaches the External Affairs Minister of India. In order to prevent a massive diplomatic snafu, a renegade cop, Kabir Shergill (John Abraham), is sent to find Viraj, and save him, with the help of Junaid Ansari (Varun Dhawan), a rookie Arab cop, and Ishika/Meera (Jacqueline Fernandes), a small time criminal.
On paper, the plot seems solid enough to occupy the audience for a good 2 hours at the very least, with the on-screen proceedings packed to the gills with shoot-outs, car chases, explosions, a cricket match and lots of one-liners. But what the director here seems to have forgotten is all the bells’n’whistles need to be paired up with some taut writing, which ends up being the movie’s biggest failing.
The first half of the movie is a surprisingly enjoyable watch, in spite of an embarrassingly homophobic bit involving a cameo by a superstar, mainly thanks to the pacing, Varun Dhawan’s highly energetic performance, and some hilarious comic subplots, involving a street smart informer played by Vijay Raaz, and a prank caller trolling Varun’s character, played with gleeful relish by Satish Kaushik.
But the movie’s biggest failings pile up in the 2nd half, what with the absolute indifference from the director’s side towards wrapping up the plot, especially with regard to the highly tepid climax, the massive plot holes, the slipshod CGI work, and with the absolute lack of connection between scenes, testing the audience’s suspension of disbelief, that, and the over-use of the famous circling camera sequence from Bad Boys 2.
John Abraham seems out of sorts for the most, and while he is watchable in the scenes involving him putting down Dhawan’s character with a snide remark, or walking towards the camera in slo-mo, cigarette dangling off his lips and all, he seems ill-equipped for his part, which needed somebody who possesses sardonic charisma. Varun Dhawan makes it clear that he is Govinda’s successor and does his father proud with his goofy charm, puppy dog like expressions and the manic energy that characterized his 90s hits.
Another massive failing of the movie is the lack of depth in characters. It is understandable that in an action movie, that should be the least of the viewer’s concerns, but in the 2nd half, the characterization is so weak that the audience ends up totally detached from the fates of the main players in the movie. Jacqueline Fernandes who has a rather strong part in the first half, is pretty much relegated to eye candy in the 2nd half, and Akshaye Khanna making a comeback after a short hiatus is criminally wasted in a part so woefully underwritten that the fact that he tries to salvage it with just the right blend of roguishness and intensity, makes absolutely no difference, even though it does seem like he had a blast playing the character.
To sum it up, Dishoom is one of those masala movies that is all flash and almost no substance, which is a pity, as it could have been a throwback to the buddy cop movies of the 80s, and a refreshing change of pace from the otherwise intense cinema that Bollywood’s developed a fondness for lately.