Total Dhamaal. Cast: Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit. Director: Indra Kumar
For a change, I watched ‘Total Dhamaal’ not at a media preview as is so often the case but at a theatre near me instead in order to unapologetically, LMAO in the darkness.
We can all safely agree that ‘Total Dhamaal’ falls under what is famously termed “Mindless Entertainment” genre. And in all fairness, it does follow the rules of the laughter game but a little too much. Nothing changes.
With pretty much the biggest names associated with the comedy genre—Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Javed Jaffrey, Johnny Lever, Mahesh Manjrekar, Sanjay Mishra, Riteish Deshmukh and Vijay Patkar, ‘Total Dhamaal’ should have been a complete laugh riot.
Unfortunately it isn’t, despite a dazzling Dixit-Nene (miscast in a one note shrewish character) and the cast sportingly going through comic motions. Essentially, a madcap caper with everyone chasing after a loot of 50 crore which eventually lands up in a private zoo owned by Esha Gupta! You get the drift.
Film franchises across genres face the same challenge of striking that delicate balance between the old and the new. Retaining characters that the audience enjoys is key but adding novelty is equally critical. Hollywood flicks like ‘Hangover’ have gone through similar challenges with mixed results. In this instance of course, the film is obviously designed for the Indian family audience not averse to over the top flicks. Director Indra Kumar who belongs to the school of formulaic film-making, knows his target audience and has obviously designed the film according to what has worked in the past. After all, why fix it, if it ain’t broke?
Kumar starts off with a thumping rendition of ‘Paisa yeh paisa’ with the lead cast dutifully shaking a leg with much joie di vivre, swiftly moving away to a comic heist involving Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Mishra, Boman Irani and Manoj Pahwa playing the cat and mouse game.
And before you know it, a warring couple (Madhuri Dixit Nene and Anil Kapoor), the two brothers (Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaffrey) and a Bihari firefighter along with a sidekick (Riteish Deshmukh and Pitobash) join in the chase.
What ensues is mayhem with gags and jokes meant to tickle your funny bone. Sometimes they succeed but unfortunately, for most part it’s the same old tricks that the director has up his sleeve (a throwback to its earlier edition Dhamaal). The elaborate zoo sequence with a message of sorts about kindness to animals thrown in (tacky CGI), is contrived and makes the film drag.
Performances by the old faithful Arshad Warsi, Javed Jaffrey and Riteish Deshmukh are competent and enjoyable but alas, they have little to do. Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit Nene, both actors with great comic talent and timing are wasted in underwritten roles. However, having said that I will admit that the slanging match between the two did elicit laughter from the audience in the theatre.
Personally, it was the Jackie Shroff voiceover (as the guiding voice of GPS) navigating Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Mishra, that cracked me up.
Given that a raucous mindless comedy has not been around for a bit, I won’t be surprised if ‘Total Dhamaal’ rakes in the moolah this weekend and is back with yet another edition, soon.