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November 28, 2006 > D:2 (Dhoom 2)

D:2 (Dhoom 2)

by Vidya Pradhan

Bollywood scriptwriters have always relied on a strong emotional underpinning to the plot of their movies.  The struggle between the hero and villain plays out as an epic battle between good and evil with a sobbing heroine looking on helplessly. There is something for every viewer. For the suburban housewife there is the doomed love story to weep over. For the kids there are the songs and dances and slapstick humor. For the young men, there are the action scenes. But most important, the good guys are saintly and the bad guys are really heinous, so that the hero’s ultimate victory is morally inevitable.

Then in 2004 came Dhoom( Blast). Borrowing heavily from the ‘48 Hours’ concept, it featured Abhishek Bachchan as super cop Jai Dixit with a bumbling sidekick ex-con Ali. The two took on a gang of bikers who had been pulling off slick heists in Mumbai. The film was a light hearted take on the classic cops and robbers theme. There were no grandiloquent speeches of revenge and righteousness, no family complications. Just plenty of breezy give and take between the dour Jai and the fun-loving Ali, awesome motorcycle chase scenes and memorable music. The women in the supporting cast were fit, tough as nails and ready to take on the men on their own terms. Following a crisp and clean script, the action scenes were shot stylishly and rivaled Hollywood.

The movie went on to become spectacularly successful, as much for its novelty factor as its stylish look and great songs. And so for the first time in Bollywood history, a franchise was born.

 Dhoom 2 follows Jai and Ali as they chase a criminal known only as “A.” Played by the sculpted Hrithik Roshan, A is a master of disguise. The movie opens in the deserts of Namibia where the Queen ( country unspecified) is traveling with her grandchildren and her invaluable crown ( hey, you’re not supposed to look for any logic when you’re watching a Bollywood movie, remember?). In a thrilling action sequence, A parachutes onto the train and, disguised as the Queen, steals the crown. The scene then shifts to Mumbai, where there is an innovative heist in the Mumbai Museum of Art ( a fictional location so don’t go looking for it in your guidebook!). There are several such capers in the movie, jumping all around the world, with scenes shot in Rio and South Africa, each technically superb.

Jai and Ali are always a beat behind the thief and in frustration, Jai decides to plant a mole in A’s life. Helping him is a cop and old friend, Shonali Bose, played by Bipasha Basu, who also has a double role in the movie as her twin Monali! Interspersed in the action are several dances, set to rocking beats, choreographed on some of the fittest bodies in Bollywood. Among them is the lissome Aishwarya Rai, once dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world. She plays a pivotal role as fellow thief Sunehri and A’s Achilles heel.

As with any sequel, the pressure has been on the director, Sanjay Gadhvi, to make a bigger, better movie. The chase scenes and the heists are much more complicated and technically sophisticated. The star factor is much higher with the addition of Hrithik and Aishwarya. But the movie falls into the classic sequel trap. In pursuit of the bigger movie, the script loses its coherence and clarity.

Bollywood has now perfected the art of the action movie and technically the film could measure up to any Hollywood effort. Once content with poor imitations of Hollywood’s finest, India now has or borrows the technicians capable of producing high quality thrillers. Even the poster is reminiscent of Mission Impossible 3. Unfortunately, it has also borrowed the mindlessness of the typical Hollywood summer movie. Dhoom 2 is ultimately just a series of cool scenes loosely strung together. The banter between Jai and Ali, refreshing in the original, now feels overdone. Hrithik Roshan as A does a very competent job but the action overwhelms the plot. Aishwarya, sadly, still can’t act, which is a pity because her performance could have lifted the movie a notch or two. Making it an international movie makes the scenes less credible, since you have to wonder about the authority two cops from Mumbai would have in a museum in Rio.

Nevertheless, Dhoom 2 is a lot of silly fun that you can take the older kids to unless you have an objection to skimpily-clad women, of which there are scores in this movie. The songs are “picturised” on two of the best dancers in India, Hrithik and Aishwarya and they do justice to the complicated moves. Some of the chase scenes are breathtaking, a testament to how far Indian movies have come in the technical department. But style scores over substance and for my money, you’d be better off renting the original on DVD.

 
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