When Queen Elizabeth came to India and not only refused to apologize for Jallianwalah Bag (despite apologizing for British excesses during Bloody Sunday in Northern Island) but also dismissed the magnitude of the butchery as “exaggerated” (instead choosing to believe the casualty figures of General Dyer’s son), she defiled the memory of our freedom fighters and inflicted a resounding colonial slap on the face of the nation—a slap that had gone unanswered.
Dhoom II. A royal figure who looks suspiciously like Queen Elizabeth is in a train speeding through Namibia along with her crown, a priceless treasure that is being guarded by two of James Bond’s illegitimate sons. Hrithik Roshan, super thief, drops down from the sky like a piece of pigeon poo, magically gets into the train and then donning a mask (Mission Impossible style), transforms himself into Queen Elizabeth so perfectly that the guards willingly grant him/her access to the “crown jewels”. Through this plot device, the director Sanjay Gadhvi not-so-subtly suggests that Queen Elizabeth and Hrithik Roshan have identical torsos—thus casting doubt on the Queen’s femininity in the same way that she cast doubt on the magnitude of Jallianwalah Bagh.
I have to accept that before I started watching Dhoom II, I went with sky-high expectations. After all my favourite reviewer Taran Adarsh had this to say about Dhoom II:
Very rarely do you come across Hindi films that marry form and content so beautifully.
Added to this certificate of greatness from the great Taran was my own recollection of the original Dhoom, a heart-stopping cops-and-robber flick about motorbikes, cleavages and hunky pizza delivery boys. Sure it was mostly inspired by “The Fast and Furious” and “Ocean’s Eleven” but really who cares about these trivialities once Uday Chopra starts dancing in the rain and Eesha Deol makes a “Main Tera Khoon Pee jayoonga” Dharmendra face.
But what I really really was dying to see was the infamous kiss between Hrithik and Aishwarya Rai (the one that was soo offensive that our honourable courts had been petitioned to stop its vulgar display so as to prevent any further moral corruption of Indian youth, a kiss so wanton that Aishwarya’s future mother-in-law walked out of the screening) because like the rest of India, my chief time-pass of late has been to obsess about the Aish-Abhi marriage (with her being a Mangalik and all) and how the passion of the kiss would be an indicator to whether Ash loves Abhi as much as she loves caring for the underprivileged children of the world.
So did Dhoom II meet my expectations?
Absolutely. This is not your average bike-and-hiest-flick with brainless action, mindless chases, explosions and not a semblance of a coherent plot.
No sir, it is that and much more.
Dhoom II’s strengths are the careful characterization of its protagonists and the believability of their actions. First, you have the master criminal Arya played with clinical passion by Hrithik Roshan, who while not deflecting bullets with his skateboard and bungee-jumping over cliffs and playing basketball in the rain looking like a Hispanic homeboy, is busy computing the n-th term of a series which also includes a modulus operator (he plans his heist days according to a mathematical progression). Then there is Arya’s arch nemesis Abhishek Bachchan reprising his role as Jay Dixit, whose advancement in the police hierarchy is attested to by his multiple chins (sought to be concealed by a perennial stubble) and a few extra pounds. Also back from Dhoom, like a smelly fart that refuses to go away, is his partner, Ali played by Uday Chopra ostensibly to provide comic relief but in reality to remind everyone whose daddy is producing the movie.
And then there are the ladies. While other movies merely use women to provide eye candy, in Dhoom II each of them have clearly delineated roles. While Bipasha takes cares of the cleavage-displays, Aishwarya provides the leg and butt action. And Rimi Sen, who is currently rivalling Virender Sehwag in the weight department brings the motherly touch: she is shown as pregnant (a beautiful way to explain her pounds) and makes an appearance that lasts as long as the average Sehwag innings.
I could go on and on about the women, their roles, the way they fit into the Dhoom universe, the thematic unity of the inspiration moments straddling the two movies (while Dhoom I copied from “Ocean’s Eleven”, Dhoom II copies from “Ocean Twelve”), the repeated rapturous slow motion walk of the “badass” heroes as explosions go off behind them and all other similar “crazy kiya re” moments but instead I shall follow the great Taran’s advice and “cut the crap and cut the gyan.”
Cause Dhoom II has both of it in ample amounts—undiluted crap and presumptious gyan that is.
However I do have to tell you about the kiss——an event of such importance that the movie could just as well have been called “Choom”. First of all, I wish to congratulate Sanjay Gadhvi for getting Ash to kiss in an Indian movie: she had always had a no-chumma policy, a fact that was borne out by her controversial refusal to smooch Chandrachur Singh in “Josh”. Now we realize that Ash’s issue was not that she won’t kiss but that she won’t do it with Chandrachur Singh (also known in some circles as ‘Bhabiji’). Understandable.
Now the actual kiss. Will this come back to haunt Ash as the “Rang Barse” song haunted her father-in-law when he was having a bit of Rekha-ji on the side? In other words, was it hot and passionate ? Was mother-in-law justified in being scandalized by the passion of Ash even though she accepted her husband’s lusty lip-action with Rani Mukherjee in ‘Black’ with that charming “Guddi” smile of hers?
Well my verdict: there is about as much passion in that kiss as a full-blooded male would exhibit if he had to exchange saliva with Queen Elizabeth today.
Incidentally, watching Dhoom II is also about as exciting.
[Acknowledgements: The picture of Queen Elizabeth]