The Goa in Dum Maaro Dum is ugly and replete with the drug mafia calling the shots.
It's a place where foreign tourists run the drug business, enlisting help from the locals. One such “recruitment” is Lorry (Prateik) desperate for a few extra bucks and a ticket out of India. His background isn't clearly established - especially his family that is represented through a few women always ready to sing and dance but who're not given a single dialogue.
The names of the characters (an important aspect of characterisation) are 'filmy', no one has a 'real name' - the good guys are called Lorry, Joki, and Zoe, the cop's name is Kamat, and the villains are Lorsa Biscuita and Michael Barbosa.
Yup Barbosa's running the whole show, but remains elusive and mysterious. Kamat is the cop gunning after Goa's drug web, and his determination is explained though a backstory. So now he has to find Barbosa. The premise is set; the action begins.
Kamat enlists the assistance of two trusted aides, and the trio starts the work of wiping out Goa's drug-fuelled underbelly. Meanwhile Kamat also finds time to sing a smartly-worded song. That's the thing with the film - here a song, there a song, everywhere a song song!
Deepika's Dum Maaro Dum, you will wait for with trepidation. The bland, tasteless remix of the iconic Dum Maaro Dum song will have you immediately uncomfortable; the (too many) close-ups of Deepika working the short skirt might comfort some. When it's finally over, the film moves into the finale.
The unearthing of Barbosa's mystery isn't going to get anyone a standing ovation. But the finale isn't half-bad either.
Director Rohan Sippy (Bluffmaster) obviously believes that the Indian audience is a sucker for emotion, and so injects a dose whenever he can (reminiscent of '80s style filmmaking). Sippy insists on visions of dead people in white making an appearance, smiling beatifically. These attempts at adding an 'emotional element' are incongruous with the vibe of the film, and are simply imposed upon the viewer.
Also strangely, while the narrative has each character introduce themselves in the beginning, there is no such continuity towards the end.
Amit Roy's cinematography and the snappy editing by Aarif Shaikh (barring the lag in the second half) are fun. However Sippy tries too hard to make each frame style- heavy and the effort shows.
Dialogue is a mixed bag-there are nice lines and some puzzling ones. For example, there are lines with a pun delivered by the character as it the pun was unintended - “Ye air-hostess ban na chahti hai, par take off nahin ho raha hai.” Then there is a spin on the popular bangla-gaadi-maa dialogue where the word 'maa' is punned upon, but it appears at the most inappropriate time (the character who writes this dialogue has his life in danger and would hardly be making jokes). If the attempt was at edgy black humour, it's lost on the viewer.
Performances remain the highlight. Abhishek Bachchan has the cool cop number down pat and reiterates his Dhoom act with the same sluggish charm and earnestness. Bipasha Basu gives a fair performance. Prateik is a treat though he overdoes the cowardly act. Govind Namdeo is superb and leaves a mark. Aditya Pancholi makes for a weak villain; dapper but not really exciting. Rana Dugabatti is alright.
Goa, as its crime rate proves, is a place that's only superficially serene. In that context, the Goa government can hardly raise an objection about an unfair portrayal of the state.
Dum Maaro Dum is worth a watch for the peek into the seamier side of Goa; but expecting anything other than Bollywood style thrills and chases will leave you disappointed.
Verdict: 2.5 stars