Movie Review: 'Total Dhamaal’
Opened: 22 February 2019
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Riteish Deshmukh, Esha Gupta, Javed Jaffrey, Sanjay Mishra, Johnny Lever, Rajpal Yadav, Sonakshi Sinha
Director: Indra Kumar
Producers: Fox Star Studios, Ajay Devgn FFilms, Ashok Thakeria, Indra Kumar, Sri Adhikari Brothers, Anand Pandit
It must take a special kind of talent, or lack thereof rather, to have Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit feature in a film and almost entirely let them go to waste, but unsurprisingly, that is exactly what Indra Kumar does here. And it’s not like he hasn’t worked with them before. In Beta the trio worked up a gem in one of the most watched films of the 90s, and reams and reams of columns have been written about the Kapoor-Dixit chemistry, so much so that many an on-screen duo have tried to mimic and/or recreate it – and failed, miserably.
Here, their coming together is literally just a gimmick, in what is essentially a tacky, slipshod and lacklustre comedy in which the plot seems to have been pieced together by a bored six year old. In hindsight, this makes sense, given that that is exactly the target market for Total Dhamaal, the third in the Dhamaal franchise, and probably not the last, given that our filmmakers have been known to milk a formula dry, long past its sell by date.
The problem here isn’t the genre by any means – with clever writing and a harebrained plot we’re all open to a chuckle; but more with the fact that for a film which parades around as a ‘comedy’, it’s something of a concern when in its two hour plus run time you chuckle all of four times – and it’s during sequences that we’ve seen in the film’s trailer and ones that have been played to death over the airwaves in the run up to its release.
The plot, if one stretches their imagination to call it that, revolves around Guddu (Ajay Devgn), a small-time crook, and his sidekick Johnny (Sanjay Mishra) on a race against time, to retrieve a wad of cash, from their driver who ends up double-crossing them. Much to their dismay, their plans threaten to get thwarted by a motley crew who uncover the whereabouts of the stolen booty – among them are Avinash (Anil Kapoor) and Bindu (Madhuri Dixit) – a bickering couple on the verge of divorce; Lallan (Riteish Deshmukh) and Jhingur (Pitobash Tripathy) – firemen turned offenders and a pair of loony siblings Aditya (Arshad Warsi) and Maanav (Javed Jaffrey). How their madcap antics land them in a zoo (where the animals in captivity seem to have more common sense and compassion than these loons), forms the crux of the ‘story’.
With a lesser cast with not as many credentials, one could forgive Kumar for making this puerile nonsense, but with a roster that boasts of the likes of Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Riteish Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, all of whom have a natural flair for comedy, and enviable resumes to boot, one isn’t as willing to let the makers of the film off the hook as easily.
There are the odd laughs here and there, but that’s probably more down to the cast who make the best of their amateurish lines – eventually though, it gets to a stage when even they can’t seem to be bothered with the sheer stupidity of it all and give up, because the film can’t decide whether it wants to be a spoof, a slapstick comedy, or one that’s aimed at kids with tacky special effects to boot.
It doesn’t help that there’s hardly anything original here – Sonakshi Sihna’s futile attempt to recreate the Helen classic ‘Mungda’ is in vain, while the other re-hash ‘Paisa Yeh Paisa’ from Karz, although rehashed well, is used during the film’s opening credits.
Of the cast, Devgn literally sleepwalks through the part – there’s nothing here that he hasn’t done before. Both Warsi and Deshmukh are woefully under-utilised, while Johnny Lever does his level best to infuse life in a cameo that ends way too quickly. Esha Gupta is insipid and seems to be added as an afterthought, while Sanjay Mishra and Boman Irani, both talented actors in their own right, begin to grate very early on into the film.
Inevitably then, it’s down to Kapoor and Dixit to salvage what’s left of this sinking ship, and to be fair, they both have fun with their parts and are unsurprisingly effortless, but by themselves there’s little that even they can do to salvage this incessant assault to one’s senses – coming together for this film is nothing short of an insult to actors of their calibre. And enduring this headache was quite frankly, an insult to and waste of my precious time.