Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dhaam Dhoom

The protagonist of many of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous films was an innocent man who was wrongly accused and went on the run while trying to clear his name. Director Jeeva picks a similar protagonist for Dhaam Dhoom, his first foray into the action genre. Both the action and the romance portions of the film are handled competently, with some notable highpoints. But the result of putting them together isn't as satisfying and so the film seems like its less than the sum of its parts.

A noted cinematographer, Jeeva graduated to direction with the wonderful 12B, a refreshing film that handled the unique subject of parallel timelines. Jeeva guided the potentially confusing story with a confident, firm hand and made us sit up and take notice. His second film Ullam Ketkume was a long time coming as it ran into a host of problems but luck favored him when it released since Arya and Asin, for whom Ullam Ketkume was the debut film, had already become famous due to other releases. The film itself was a cute college romance, one of the few good films in that genre, and went on to become a hit. His last film Unnaale Unnaale was again a romance and though it was too talky and not very practical, it caught the fancy of the youth and became a hit. Dhaam Dhoom's action portions are proof that Jeeva was as adept at filming action as he was at handling romance and the director, who passed away due to a cardiac arrest as he was shooting Dhaam Dhoom will definitely be missed.

Gautham('Jayam' Ravi), a doctor, is one of only five doctors selected by the Government to attend a medical conference in Moscow, Russia. Gautham isn't too enthusiastic about traveling since his wedding with Shenba(Kangana Ranaut) is just a few days away but his family doesn't want him to miss the opportunity and sends him on his way. Gautham runs into a model Anna at the airport and then again at a nightclub a few days later. He brings her back to his hotel room since she is too drunk and passes out too. A rude shock awaits him in the morning as Anna is found dead and he is arrested by the police. As he is charged and sent to Jail, an officer(Jayaram) from the Indian embassy and Aparna(Lakshmi Rai), a lawyer, are the only two people on his side.

The film is primarily about Ravi's troubles in Russia and these segments are bookended by flashbacks that detail the progress of his romance with Kangana. This structure prevents the suspense from being ratcheted up to the level necessary to pull us in. Every time we become caught up in Ravi's situation, the film lightens things by harking back to his romance. The romance isn't bad. Kangana is an interesting character and her encounters with Ravi are sweet. But it lacks excitement(since Ravi and Kangana are getting married, we know how its gonna end!) and has no impact on Ravi's predicament in Russia. So the segments feel like speedbreakers to the film's flow.

Russia provides a fresh setting for the action and the lack of English makes even basic communication impossible. So it becomes easy to sympathize with Ravi. The proceedings aren't as polished(its funny when a conference attended by supposedly leading doctors kicks off with one of them talking about blood mismatch during a transplant) or realistic(our involvement with Ravi is greatly damaged when he walks around Moscow without any problem while on the run) as we'd like. But it helps that there are no unbelievable stunts or fight sequences. Fights are restricted to small scuffles and chases, two of which are spectacularly filmed and get the adrenaline flowing.

We know right at the beginning that Ravi is not going to be on the run the whole time and will swing into action to clear his name. So the fact that it happens is no surprise but the way things proceed after that is. Things plop into place too easily and the plot points used to clear things are simplistic and convenient.

'Jayam' Ravi, who has played loverboy roles so far, slips comfortably into the action role. Kangana feels a little out-of-place in the village setting and the role doesn't stretch her much either. Lakshmi Rai was obviously brought in to provide Ravi a jodi during his time in Russia. She does little lawyering and spends more time running around with him. Jayaram tones down the comedy but still doesn't look too comfortable in his role. Harris Jayaraj comes up with another blockbuster soundtrack for Jeeva, who films them with his usual visual flair. Pudhu Pudhu... looks like a fun and flashy music video and has some nice touches, like the passers-by who launch into those Ha Ha interludes. Thikku Thikku... catches the eye with the bright and flashy lights in the nightclub. Aazhiyile... is sensually picturized with the confines of a car while Anbe Ennanbe... takes place in some gorgeous locales.


At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lakshmi Rai was called Aarti not Aparna in this movie :)

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No unbelievable stunts? Come on, seem to have lost your touch. Didnt you watch Ravi crossing buildings in one of the chase scenes as though they were puddles on the road??? I guess you didnt watch the movie with your usual enthu and fervour. You seem to have gotten Kangana's name wrong too!!!


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No unbelievable stunts? Come on, seem to have lost your touch. Didnt you watch Ravi crossing buildings in one of the chase scenes as though they were puddles on the road??? I guess you didnt watch the movie with your usual enthu and fervour. You seem to have gotten Kangana's name wrong too!!!


At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unnaale Unnaale is not very practical ? which century ru in? it would have been not practical if vinay and sadha were married despite their mismatch and shown to be living happily ever after.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read my mind! I totally agree and came out of the theater bemused! The action scenes were good, the romance was good... however the scenes back in India purely added to some nice song&dance sequence and halted the progress of the movie. Me thinks that they probably wanted to shoot the movie as an action but the unexpected demise of Jeeva led them to make comprimises. I definitely miss Jeeva the cinematographer though. I still remember Gentleman and the way he lighted some of those scenes (considering it was Sharkar's first movie and budget was limited). The whole climax for plain naive! There was no logical reason for Ravi to suspect Jayram because he uses the words Shukriya and the other one! It was even amazing that neither Laxmi Rai nor Ravi knew they were hindi words!!! It would have been a nice little turn to show the guide as the culprit instead of Jayram. It would have made more sense. Oh well!

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it's gone to Russia now. From the Swiss Alps, land Down Under, the Canadian Rockies ... where to next?

Tamil movies cover locations more than the Discovery Travel Channel!

At 11:36 PM, Blogger D.E.V said...

The scenes in Russia were plain boring and unexciting. The village scenes were so much entertaining and sweeter. The lack of a proper story is very much evident in the poor second half. Didint undertand the main reason why Ravi had to be framed and the Bad guys so anxious to kill him in jail and outside. The low key climax was a big disappointment. Mybe if Jeeva was alive, the product would not have turned out like this. Towards the end, u feel the wjole movie had been rushed to be completed.

At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to your reviews Balaji sir?
You forgot to mention the Torturous pacing of the movie.
I cant believe P C Sriram looked over the direction after Jeeva's demise everything has fallen apart in this film for me...
I was expecting a real damage of this film in your review

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This film is heavily inspired from 'Red Corner', a Richard Gere film. Check this:


At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

totally agree BB, there is always the huge expectation and then the wait delivers no ecstasy. However, the visuals are supreme. The songs are well captured. Its sad that the loose ends are not taken care of even by the pros.
By when is your Saroja review expected? certainly look forward to reading it

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, oops :)

DS, when i said unbelievable stunts, I was thinking about usual fights where our heroes bash up dozens of goondas single-handedly. since i liked the chases, i didn't mind the leaps so much :)

and kangana's name wasn't shenba? :)

sahana, u've talked about the climax. i was talking about the rest of the film :)

anon/skanda, i think the only things left after jeeva's demise were a couple of song sequences. most of the film was his work i think :)

anon, i would've said torturous pacing if i felt that way. i guess i liked it more than u did :)

senthil, yep I felt that during the court scenes too :)

rags, the songs were the best part :)
haven't seen it yet. might be a week or so :)

anon, :)

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alfred Hitchcock's simplest and oldest movies are so gripping, the comparison truly ends with a mention that it is the story of another protagonist..The flashback romances could have been avoided that were hurdles to build up the suspense that seems to be the weakness of Indian flims..I read few of your reviews and liked them.


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