I saw Dishoom! It is NOT a Mumbai Police remake. Or if it is, it’s been re-written and re-written so many times as to be unrecognizable. Unlike Mumbai Police, it is just a super fun silly light hearted movie with no social content or awareness what so ever.
This movie does very very well by its leads. John Abraham and Varun Dhawan get plenty of opportunities to smile at the camera and make little winky faces and generally be super charming and attractive and movie star like. And they get characters that perfectly match their particular styles, Varun playing kind of a silly young rookie type, John playing a cynical older tough guy type with a history. I can definitely see that Varun’s brother wrote and directed this movie for him, and that John had some very good reasons to choose to be in it.
Jacqueline, not so much. I mean, her character is fine, and she does a nice job with it, but I don’t really see this moving her career to another level or anything. It’s too bad, I really liked her in Brothers, and she was the best actress in Housefull 3 (not hard, considering her co-stars were Nargis and Lisa Haydon). But I guess she must have known what she was getting into, I’m sure she got a nice paycheck and got to hang out with cool people. And it was nice to have someone a little more substantial and confident onscreen play this action movie heroine kind of part, instead of the usual flavor-of-the-month pretty face.
(I’m still mad at Shruti Haasan for being so terrible in Gabbar is Back)
And then there’s Saqib Saleem, who wasn’t promoted that much, but is basically the 4th lead of the film. He’s fine I guess, cute, sweet, comfortable delivering dialogue. But mostly I was watching it thinking “who is this guy? Why is someone I don’t recognize at all playing this pivotal role?” I guess it kind of worked, since he was supposed to be kind of the every man innocent victim type, so having someone who didn’t make you immediately think “movie star! He’s a movie star!” worked out okay. But it was kind of a huge leap for him, from little Y Films things like Mere Dad ki Maruti and art movies like Hawaa Hawaai all the way up to a big budget big star action movie. Although I guess we all have to start somewhere, and this must have been his chance to make a mark in a big film.
Oh, and Akshaye! I LOOOOOOOVE Akshaye! Especially in a villain role! He just has so much fun with delivering threats like they are jokes and jokes like they are threats, and doing the Khanna lean over everyone. I just realized, his Dad used to kind of lean like that over his co-stars. Only, his Dad was usually considerably taller than his co-stars, whereas Akshaye is just kind of average height, so I don’t know why he does the lean thing. Otherwise, though, I love him. He seems to have given up completely on being a “hero” type and embraced character roles, this part isn’t even “cool” evil, it’s just sort of silly evil. And he seems much more comfortable doing these kinds of parts than he ever did when he tried to play the straight up hero.
(Although I still haven’t seen Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, and I understand he does a great job with the hero part in that)
And then there are ten million cameos! The other Akshay, Nargis (blech! My 3rd Nargis movie of the summer! Why does she keep torturing me with her “acting”?), Parineeti, Vijay Raaz, and someone I am pretty sure was Sonu Sood but it wasn’t promoted so maybe not. I kind of like the cameos as part of the bigger theme of the movie, that the middle east has become a new Indian outpost. In this carefully unnamed city/country, Varun is a cop, Nargis is a wealthy local, Akshay is a local millionaire playboy, Vijay Raaz is an informer, Akshaye is a local bad guy, the Indians are everywhere!
I don’t know if this is the first year Hindi film has really gone after the middle east market, or just the first time I’ve started noticing it, but oh my goodness, this movie really really went after it! It created this whole world of Indians abroad, showing their shops and houses and parties, everything. And it stayed within that world the whole time, I mean, it wasn’t like Happy New Year where our “heroes” came from India to Dubai and then went home again. Varun really is a citizen of where ever this is and he stays there at the end.
Or, maybe not? The film, in a small way, is trying to resolve that same NRI identity crisis that Adi was dealing with in DDLJ, what makes somebody “Indian”? Varun is introduced as the local who can help John find the bad guys, because he was born and brought up here, he is fluent in the language and knows how to get around and who all the powerful figures are and so on and so on. But then at the same time, at one point he talks about being excited to work on this case because it is a chance for him to do something real, working for “desh”. So, does he mean “desh” like India, or “desh” like this is his first big case as a police officer for this nameless non-Indian country? Is it saying that Indians have made their home overseas and built their own unique community there, or is it saying that their home is still India and always will be? Or, am I thinking about this way more than the filmmakers ever did? I think probably the last.
(KIND OF SMALL NOT REALLY SPOILER BECAUSE YOU COULD GUESS THIS PART) Speaking of over thinking, as you can probably tell from the promo photos, Akshay’s character is gay. If this were an American movie, he would get into all kinds of trouble for playing a stereotype and so on and so on. But that’s just putting American morals and standards onto a different culture. For an Indian movie, I find it super exciting to have a major macho action star like Akshay being willing to make fun of himself like that, being seen as openly gay onscreen. Heck, even having an openly gay character in a big budget wide release film is awesome! Especially one who is brave and helpful and powerful, not weak and evil.
(note the man-bun)
But at it’s core, this is just a fun silly movie. Nothing wrong with that! It plows ahead without stopping, hitting the character beats it needs in the most efficient manner possible, zipping the central mystery along without much concern for logic or point A leading to point B, changing scenes about every 5 minutes so we never get tired of the exotic setting, and giving us plenty of ridiculous action scenes and nice male beefcake, in case we get bored.
Basically, it’s a Dhoom rip off. Only, instead of the deep and emotional storyline going to the ever changing villain while the two leads handle the comic relief, the villain is kind of silly here too. So, there really is no deep and emotional storyline. It’s all just 2 hours and ten minutes of silly silly escapism. Which, on a hot July Saturday, isn’t the worst thing in the world!