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24 August 2016

Dishoom (2016)

Directed by: Rohit Dhawan
Music: Pritam
Starring: John Abraham, Varun Dhawan, 
Jacqueline Fernandez, Akshay Khanna, 
Saquib Saleem, Rahul Dev, 
Nargis Fakhri, Akshay Kumar
I swear that's the name of the film! We stroll in late one night to a multiplex close to where my sister lives, umbrellas in tow; the monsoons were showering Bombay with much love after all. We feel rather silly saying 'Four tickets! Dishoom' to the chap behind the ticket window, but he takes it in stride, shoving a seating chart at us. S peers over the window, trying hard to look interested in where we could sit to watch a film named Dishoom in all its glory. He gestures vaguely at some point on the chart.

Tickets in hand, we walk through a metal detector, and my sister I move aside to where a female security guard checks us desultorily, and waves us through. My sister and I look at each other; 'Perhaps we don't look like terrorists?' she says sotto voce. S is half asleep on his feet. 'Who's Jacqueline Fernandez?' he asks abruptly, as we stuff ourselves into a glass elevator. 'She's a Sri Lankan beauty queen,' says my sister, knowledgeably. S snorts. 'Not with a name like Fernandez, she isn't.' But despite S's disbelief, she is, indeed.

My sister wants to know if we should pick up popcorn and soda. My BIL looks harried, though why he should, I really don't know. 'Who asked you to come with us?' queries my sister of her husband, at which charge he looks even more harried. We all know my BIL's lack of interest in cinema is vanquished by his fear of missing out. S just looks bored. My sister and I discuss the merits of a samosa and hot chai over popcorn and soda. S continues to look bored. I want to ask him the same question, but S is capable of walking off home, umbrella under his arm. I desist. Sis and I decide to wait until the interval to choose. 

The theatre doors, shut for 'cleaning', open like the doors of the inner sanctum of a temple. Suddenly, there's a rush of people towards the door; a minute earlier, I could have sworn we were going to be the only people in the auditorium. 

We take our seats; despite the late night, there are children in the auditorium. People are talking, laughing. A sepulchral voice intones - 'Stand up for the national anthem.' It's weird - why do we have the national anthem in a theatre? I remember my cousin being flabbergasted at the occurrence. 'There's nothing like this in Bangalore,' she'd said. Never mind. Ours not to question why, however. Ours but to stand up in deference. Everyone does. We do, too. 

Then follow some rather weird advertisements. I usually like Indian ads; these were some serious WTH moments. Especially the ads for Amazon India. And the ones preaching the evils of smoking. Two of them. I idly note that the girl in one ad seems to be a clone of young Harshali from Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Same cuteness factor. I mention that to my husband. He says, 'Drown her!' I'm wishing I'd bought samosas. Or popcorn. Or both. I'm bored, and that's fatal to my enjoyment of the film itself.

But. The film begins. With a young Saquib Saleem playing cricket. He's Viraj Sharma, master batsman, annihilator of the opposition, and several other encomiums. Sis and I play 'guess the cricketer'. Dhoni? Virat Kohli? But, but, but... Saleem is not the hero, is he? Nope. All's right with masala world. He's there to be kidnapped.
The kidnapper kindly sends a video to the cops; it has Viraj all blindfolded and tied up, and a message - Viraj is going to be held only until the India-Pak cricket finals in Sharjah is over. The kidnapper is a cricket-crazed fan, and he wants Pakistan to win at any cost. But if the news of the kidnapping is leaked and the match is cancelled, why, then, Sharma will be dead. Panic ensues. The Home Ministry gets into the act. The minister looks remarkably like Sushma Swaraj. There are chuckles in the audience.

Aaaaand... we have the 'hero entry'. Special agent Kabir. John Abraham. Looking more like a plank of wood than a tree. But, oh, what a good-looking plank of wood. Nice smile, too. Not that he does much of smiling in this film. Instead, he smokes. A lot. 
And glowers. At a random guy in the elevator. At his girlfriend, who's called Alishka Iyer. (But she's not dressed in a dhavani with mallipoo in her hair.) He also has a penchant for shooting at close quarters. Of course, one can't blame the man. His girl friend is sleeping around. Chumma. (A perfectly good Malayalam word that means 'Simply'. Or 'simbly' if you want it to sound stereotypically Malayali.) With his best friend. Oops! So Kabir does what any red-blooded man would do - look lovingly at his gun and shoot at his girlfriend's photograph. Or his. I'm not sure. 

Now that we have established that Kabir has no strings to hamper him, he's sent out to the Emirates. His mission - find Viraj before it's too late. He has 36 hours before all hell breaks loose. Cut to Emirates, where Kabir soon antagonises the police officer sent to receive him. At headquarters, he meets the Robin to his Batman - a rookie officer called Junaid (Varun Dhawan) whose inability to find a dog has consigned him to looking after the domestic duties of his superior officer.  
Junaid has a penchant for Yo Yo Honey Singh and a seemingly boundless number of quips. His effervescence is endearing. Or annoying. Depends on how you feel. I half expect to see him plugging Boost or Horlicks or Red Bull - he has that sort of infectious energy. I smile. Varun Dhawan makes me smile just by appearing on screen. Kabir is annoyed. So, I think, is my husband. 

Before you know it, actually, you do know it, Junaid and Kabir are a pair. 'You can call me J', says Junaid. Kabir grunts. Neither I nor Junaid know whether it is in agreement. Never mind. Junaid is like an India rubber ball. But their fledgling 'bro'-hood is almost blown to smithereens when Kabir decides to punch a hole in the car's music system. 
'J' is shocked. It is a Honey Singh song! 'I only love Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar songs,' deadpans Kabir. I knew there was a reason I love John Abraham. 

Kabir and Junaid do what all good cops should do - review the security camera footage. Too bad the Emirates police don't know the basics. The footage shows Viraj leaving the hotel in the company of a sultry babe (Nargis Fakhri). So off they go to meet her. J, being a good cop, checks the girl out. Thoroughly. 
She's not pleased. Neither is Kabir. J is forced to pick his chin off the floor and put his eyeballs back. Turns out she's an old pal of Viraj's and had taken him to a friend's birthday party as a 'gift'. Said friend being a huge fan of Viraj's. Later, Viraj waits for her outside while she says her final goodbyes. The catch? When she comes out, he's not there. 

So. One lead has petered out. But there's another.
Samir  (Akshay Kumar). Kabir is annoyed at Samir's choice of music. He shoots the music system. I'm thinking the police force must be generous with ammunition supplies. Kabir seems to have an inordinate number of bullets to waste. Samir is a law unto himself and gets his own back a little while later. 
When J thrills at the idea of being an 'undercover' cop, I'm sure he didn't think it meant this. Samir leers at J & K, and I laugh out loud. Talk about camp! Samir is unapologetically sassy. And all man. And very attractive. His total unconcern regarding the role reminds me why I love Akshay Kumar so much.  Here he is, as Samir, taking a selfie with Viraj. 
Saquib Saleem has a WTF moment of his own. I wonder whether it was spontaneous. But I can't help laughing. Name me one mainstream actor who can pull off this scene with a straight face. Akshay does it with such joy.  

A hilarious motorbike ride later, Kabir is no closer to solving the case. And time is ticking by. J has managed to find the missing dog, however. His name is Bradman. The dog's. Not J's. His confidence increases by leaps and bounds. J's. Not the dog's. The dog is remarkably phlegmatic. 

The duo, J and Kabir, who J wants to refer to as 'K', soon run into Ishita (Jacqueline Fernandez), who seems to be some sort of serial runaway. She's also a shoplifter and a pickpocket. And she has attitude. Me like!
J flirts with her, she flirts right back, but she has her eye on Kabir all the time. He looks more like a plank of wood than before. Or is that a stuffed owl? I don't know. Did I mention he looks good? He looks good. 
The Emirates police force are not fools after all. They manage to nab the man in the original video; he's 'interrogated' Kabir style, but the poor man has no clue why he's in prison. Turns out he's just an out of work actor who's been asked to relay the message on the video. That's another lead down the drain. But oh, they find Viraj's cell phone with Ishita. She claims to have stolen it from a stranger. The police artist soon makes a drawing of the suspect, though he cannot hide his smiles at the way she describes the man. The suspect's name, they discover, is Altaf (Rahul Dev). 

Soon, J is impersonating Spider Man, and springing Ishita from prison. And oh, minor detail - she's not Ishita after all. She's Meera Bahl. Same difference.
Before you can say 'Kabir, Junaid and Ishita', the trio are in Altaf's subterranean hideout, where Ishita gets to gyrate to an item song. Wait, if she's the heroine, how can this be an 'item'?
Never mind. She grooves, J grooves with her, and Kabir arm wrestles with Altaf. Why? Never mind. (As you can see, there're lots of 'never minds' in this film.) Soon, everyone's chasing everyone else, and before we know it, J & K & I are exploding out of the ground in a motorbike with a side car with Altaf's goons behind them. S sits up to ask, 'How did they get out?' I had no answer. Because now, for some reason, J& K are chasing Altaf. There's no sign of Ishita.
Altaf goes through a group of men praying, but J stops Kabir from following. Wait, he says. You have to respect their faith, he says. And Kabir, frowning heavily, does as he's asked. What happens? Altaf is shot. Yup. Dead as a dodo. I'm waiting for Kabir to shoot J for being a jackass. 

But, as if in answer to their prayers, or because some merciful god was pleased that Kabir didn't disturb the prayers of the faithful, they receive a call on Viraj's phone. It is from someone named Wagah (Akshay Khanna). 
Who seems very pleased that he's managed to stymie the cops that he has to call and gloat. I wonder at the pea-sized brain of filmi villains. Or their megalomania. But Akshay (Khanna, not Kumar) still looks good with that cleft in his chin, and his smile, with those dimples, is to die for. (It's a shame I can't find a picture of AK smiling. What's the Internet coming to?) Oh, and he's also happy because the road J and K are on? Well, it's peppered by minefields. Hah! Take that! (Apparently, J and K picked Ishita up somewhere.)
But what do you know? The missing Bradman (the Dog, not the 'Don') belongs to Wagah. He loves Bradman (both the Dog and the Don). See? You have to love a man who loves his dog. Also, the dog solves one puzzle. Yaaay for dogs!

But that is later. Kabir and J return to Abu Dhabi, to be told that Kabir's unorthodox methods have enraged/ embarrassed the Emirates and they are taken off the case. Kabir is to be deported to India, while J goes back to taking his superior officer's kids to school and buying his groceries. Oops! 

So. What happens to Viraj? Will Kabir really return to India, tail between his legs? Will Junaid stop looking like he wants his mummy? Is there a point to all the anonymous phone calls that Junaid gets?  Will Ishita manage to melt the ice encasing Kabir? 
Where would we all be if we didn't already know the answers to these questions? 

"Great cinema' this is not, but believe me, tightly edited at slightly less than two hours, I would classify this under 'great entertainment'. I didn't have one single 'I'm bored' moment, nor did I crave a samosa. Or popcorn. What's more, watched in a theatre at the end of a long, hard, frustrating day, wanting only to relax, Dishoom entertained me. Or, misquoting that original eccentric, Alfred P Doolittle, perhaps I was willing to be entertained, I was waiting to be entertained, I was wanting to be entertained. More importantly, however, S did not fall asleep. That fact alone raises the film's watchability quotient.

But as we left the theatre, S had a very important question: How did Junaid and Kabir get out of Altaf's cave with Ishita? If anyone has the answer to that, please do let me know. It will help stave off S's sleepless nights. 

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