Dhamaka review: Kartik Aaryan delivers an arresting thriller

The film explores the cut throat world of TV news

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3.5/5

Monday 22 November 2021

Movie Title

Dhamaka review: Kartik Aaryan delivers an arresting thriller


Ram Madhvani

Star Cast

Kartik Aaryan, Mrunal Thakur, Amruta Subhash, Vikas Kumar

Reminiscent of films like Parasite and The White Tiger, which also delve into class inequality taking a violent turn, Dhamaka starts with a bang (forgive the trite pun).

Arjun (Kartik Aaryan), unhappy about being demoted from prime-time TV anchoring to radio jockey, shows up to work in sweats and a beard. He’s clearly jaded and demoralized.

His golden chance arrives in the form of a mysterious phone call from someone who threatens to blow up the Bandra Sea-Link. As Arjun dismisses this as a prank by a caller on the radio show, a bomb explodes on the Sea-Link. Arjun looks out of his window to see the burning bridge and picks up the phone to call the cops. But then he realizes this could be his ticket to TV stardom.

A situation that would terrorize someone else has him elated. He asks the caller to talk to him again. He shaves and cuts a deal with his boss (an exclusive for his former throne as prime-time anchor). Within minutes, a camera crew is arranged for Arjun to speak with this mysterious caller. But who is this caller? What are his demands? Is he a terrorist?

Dhamaka (remake of Korean film ‘The Terror Live’) explores the cut-throat world of TV news where bosses ask their news-anchors to constantly ramp up the drama. The character of Arjun’s boss Ankita (Amruta Subhash) represents this cold-blooded side of the industry. Of course, in doing so, her character has been exaggerated to an extent that it appears comically evil. She has heavy-duty dialogue like ‘the show must go on’, and another one comparing a news anchor to an actor who must put in the drama to regale their audience.

But it's a guilty pleasure to see the TV news industry, which has plummeted to new lows off-late, get a drubbing of sorts.

Arjun’s wife Saumya (Mrunal Thakur) who is a reporter with the same channel appears briefly in the film. These two female characters could have been far more interesting with more layers and screen-time.

Kartik Aaryan has appeared in a string of sexist films such that his ‘brand’ of movies is loved and despised depending on your side of the fence. This is an opportunity for him to escape that restricting image and explore further. Nothing could be further from a rom come than a thriller, and he makes that jump effectively. He portrays the dilemma and distress of his character with sincerity. Aryan especially excels in scenes where, having won the career jackpot, throws his weight around forgetting a junior colleague’s name and usurping another colleague’s tv slot. It’sa great role and Kartik Aaryan gets us fairly invested in the goings-on.

Directed by Ram Madhvani (Neerja, Aarya),Dhamaka begins with promise but has a predictable, watered-down finale. To its credit, the film succeeds in humanizing the ‘terrorist’. In the Korean film Parasite, microaggressions build-up to an unexpected finale. Same for The White Tiger where class inequality leads to a violent incident.

Dhamaka explores how class inequality, constantly brushed under the carpet and normalized, is bound to explode in one way or the other. 

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra

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