Dhoom (2004)

Get off the road!

Following a six-year lull, Dhoom — meaning noise or uproar — is Yash Raj Films’ first action flick since 1988’s Vijay; the picture engagingly fuses Hollywood’s popular Oceans Eleven (2001) with The Fast and the Furious (2001) creating a one-of-a-kind edge-of-your-seat experience. The film also serves as an excellent introduction into the Bollywood circuit for newcomers, with its perfect combination of high-speed chases, technical effects and soap-opera drama. Dhoom additionally marks the beginning of the Bollywood sub-genre one might call ‘adrenalin rush’ — high-octane features centering on testosterone driven heroes and scantily clad heroines — which have become all-the-rage over the past decade or so.

Dhoom begins with a bang when a group of sophisticated bank robbers — who are proving to be somewhat troublesome for the local police department to apprehend — are sweeping through the streets of Mumbai with their high-tech motorbikes. No-nonsense cop and honest man, ACP Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) is eventually brought in on the case to help capture these slick bike-riding thieves, but quickly discovers that he may need outside assistance if he wishes to seize the crooks. Jai eventually enlists the aid of Ali Akbar Fateh Khan (Uday Chopra), a scatterbrained, clownish, downtown garage mechanic and prestigious bike racer and together the pair forms an unlikely alliance with the unified purpose of bringing these criminals to justice. In due course, the duo find themselves hot on the heels of the robbers — a gang headed by Kabir (John Abraham), a perfectionist with an attitude — but swiftly discover that sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.

They're ... singing in the rain ...
They’re … singing in the rain …

Produced by Aditya Chopra, Veer-Zaara (2004) and flashily directed by Sanjay Gadhvi, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (2002), Dhoom plays out like The Fast and the Furious, although, instead of riding through the streets in amped-up cars, our villains are seen speeding around in modified motorcycles — the Yash Raj Films’ logo even has the sound of revving bikes instead of the traditional score. Director Gadhvi uses the locations and ‘speed’ factor of the picture to his advantage, utilizing split screen techniques, slow-motion shots and mischievous zoom-ins creating a flashy, stylish, visually appealing aesthetic within the picture. Perceptibly, there’s always a tinge of familiarity with these types of genre films, but in spite of this, the action on display in Dhoom doesn’t disappoint — although one might need to suspend belief with the picture’s gravity defying moments — as stunt coordinator Allan Amin, The Namesake (2006), manages to pull-off some elaborate feats and set pieces rather compellingly and fairly convincingly.

The music by Pritam Chakraborty, Love Aaj Kal (2009), Salim Merchant and Suleiman Merchant, Chakde! India (2007), is catchy and memorable — I’m sure many will be humming Dhoom Machale or Ali’s sweet, Dilbara, well into the next day — while the dance numbers are equally as captivating, oozing with retro sex appeal, whether the stars are toe-tapping in the streets of Mumbai or scheming on the sun kissed beaches of Goa. Each distinctive location adds its own flavor to proceedings, transforming every respective musical number into somewhat of a spectacle; Dhoom banks heavily on style and, in that department, the film delivers the goods in spades.

John Abraham is ready for his Michael Bay close-up!
John Abraham is ready for his Michael Bay close-up!

His first hit in a number of years, Abhishek Bachchan, Guru (2007), doesn’t stray too far away from the boundaries of his acting abilities and delivers as the hard-boiled police officer Jai Dixit. Elsewhere — in his desperate endeavor to get the girl — Uday Chopra, Mohabbatein (2000), steals the show as the lovable Ali Akbar Fateh Khan, showcasing his range of comic abilities as we find him caught in a series of extreme scenarios, while John Abraham, Dostana (2008), plays it cool as the sexy goal orientated antagonist, clearly comfortable prancing around in the midst of his insignificant wardrobe. Our female stars — who serve as eye-candy rather than anything else — add glamour and sensuality to the picture. Newcomer Rimi Sen, Hungama (2003), is sweet, in a girl-next-door sort of way, as Jai’s animal-loving wife, Mrs. Sweety Dixit; on the contrary, Esha Deol, Yuva (2004), adds a bad-girl flavor to the mix as the devious entertainer, Sheena.

Given its rapid pace — the film clocks in at a surprisingly reasonable 129 minutes — Dhoom certainly lives up to its name, as there’s rarely a calm moment in this high-speed show. Director Sanjay Gadhvi — who was apparently crazy about motorbikes when he was young — skillfully hones in on the moment with the picture’s enthralling action set-pieces, sharp dialogue, witty characters and complex dance routines, and although not for everyone, the film is executed almost impeccably in terms of throw away entertainment. One can certainly understand why Dhoom was a major turning point in Indian cinema back in 2004, reinventing the classic cops and robbers tale for a 21st century audience. With its boisterous visuals and fine looking motorcycles, adrenaline junkies need look no further.

3 / 5 – Good

Reviewed by Mr. Movie

Dhoom is released through Yash Raj Films