Total Dhamaal brings both – good news and bad news for the fans of the Dhamaal franchise. The bad news is that if you were expecting the third installment in the Dhamaal franchise to be as good as the first, then let us be very clear, it is not. However, the good news is that Total Dhamaal inspite of its shortcomings is way better than Double Dhamaal. With the cast that director Indra Kumar had put together, one had expected it to be a complete laugh riot, but it is not. Most of the actors in this ensemble cast are known for their comic timing. Yet – Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Mishra, Johnny Lever, Riteish Deshmukh, Boman Irani, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jafferi – together fail to lift the movie.
To call Total Dhamaal a must-watch comedy or a total paisa vasool is wrong! It is paisa vasool, but not total paisa vasool, if you get what we are trying to say. The director seems to have sat with a checklist with all funny things. Instead of concentrating on the quality, he has worked more on making sure that the funny things find a way into the film. So from toilet humour to WhatsApp forwards and from domestic humour to silly characters, every ingredient has been added to this comical serving. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a character representing all communities. From a Gujarati to Maharashtrian, a Bengali, to a North Indian, Total Dhamaal has very diverse characters! And let’s not forget there are the animals too.
What is Total Dhamaal about? Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Mishra steal Rs 50 crore from a corrupt police commissioner, played by Boman Irani. They are however double-crossed by Manoj Pahwa, who hides the money in a Janakpur Zoo. Manoj meets with an accident, but before dying he reveals the location to four pairs – including Ajay and Sanjay. The four pairs are complete strangers, but their greed for money sets them on a crazy treasure hunt. The film establishes early on who these four pairs are. There’s Ajay-Sanjay, then there’s Madhuri and Anil, a couple on the brink of divorce. Riteish and Pitobash are corrupt firefighters, while Jaaved and Arshad are on the lookout for a job. The crazy adventure that they set out on is what the film is all about.
Yay: Madhuri and Anil’s chemistry gets our thumbs up. Madhuri lights up the frame each time she appears on screen. Her comic timing is still as perfect as always. She breathes life into the most dull dialogues and salvages Total Dhamaal from being a complete wash-out. Anil ably supports her in this. Jackie Shroff’s ‘Chindi’ voice-over also brings about a few laughs. Ajay sticks to his swagger more than comedy and the director smartly makes it work for his character. Johnny Lever is his usual comical self, though this is not his best. Jaaved and Arshad are the ones who are consistently funny.
Nay: Total Dhamaal falters on several levels. A major drawback is the background score and the additional comical sounds added for effect. It’s a pity that the audience’s intelligence is so under-rated that they will need a sound to make them laugh. But then perhaps the makers were trying to fill in for the lack of punch in the dialogues. The last 20 minutes are when you actually realise that the film does have a dialogue-writer. But that’s a sputtering few lines! The dialogues do not do justice to any of the actors and they clearly don’t get to show their comic side to their full potential.
CineBlitz verdict: This one is a clean comedy that kids are likely to enjoy, thanks to the animals and Jaaved Jaaferi. Madhuri and Anil fans won’t be disappointed. The film tilts a bit towards entertaining than the borderline entertaining mark. So, if you are a Dhamaal fan and don’t mind their brand of humour, then Total Dhamaal might not be a totally bad idea.
Star rating: 2 stars
Hostages 2 review: Felt like being held hostage
Disney + Hotstar’s Hostages season 2 is bigger and better than its first season; yet it is inconsistent and a bit too stretched
Hostages Season 2
Director: Sachin Mamta Krishn
Cast: Ronit Bose Roy, Divya Dutta, Shweta Basu Prasad
Streaming on: Disney + Hotstar
Hostages (based on an Israeli show of the same name) season one had a unique premise and twists and turns; and ended on a cliffhanger. Hostages season 2 is much bigger and better. But it has the same problem of inconsistency as season 1. Sure, there are enough twists and turns to trigger your curiosity. But a sloppy screenplay stretches the drama too much. In the 12-episode long duration, there’s always a scope for re-editing. These days, crime dramas and thrillers have become more realistic (for the better), hence, you don’t have to bear the passive aggressive dialoguebaazi. The dialogue here though, except for a few gems, lacks impact.
Also read: Bandish Bandits review: A melodious treat
The twists are astonishing, no doubt. But the sloppy execution takes the adrenaline out of it. If you have been binge watching crime dramas and thrillers (there’s a plethora on OTT) you can expect what could happen next. The usual camera and editing techniques used to create suspense and tension aren’t handled effectively. Every episode has a new revelation but a cumulative duration of about six hours becomes a little too long a wait to see the end.
Hostages 2 has an ensemble cast and some good performances. Ronit Bose Roy as SP Prithvi Singh leads the pack alongside Divya Dutta’s clever Ayesha Khan and Shweta Basu Prasad’s fiery Shikha Pandey. An always dependable Amit Sial does full justice to his role of a confused, agitated nurse/compounder Peter. It was good to see veteran Kanwaljit Singh as the head of the police department. Dino Morea and Shibani Dandekar have extended cameos. Their scenes together have nothing else to offer than yawns.
There are all the mandatory characters of a crime drama/thriller. There are quarrelling intelligence officers, angry cop versus sensible cop, a confused in distress, a loyal, emotional fool who would create panic and a manipulator. The seasoned actors mentioned above and a few new (relatively) faces put on performances, but they seem staged and individualistic rather than unified and organic. The director Sachin Mamta Krishn is only executing what’s written on paper. His direction never really appears to be aspiring or controlled.
The twists are plotted in every episode with the intention of keeping you hooked. But not knowing enough till almost the eighth (of total twelve) episode tests your patience. Felt like being held hostage to watch this one.
Bandish Bandits review: A melodious treat
Amazon Prime Video’s latest original Bandish Bandits directed by Anand Tiwari stars Naseeruddin Shah, Shreya Chaudhry and Ritwik Bhowmik
Creators: Amritpal Singh Bindra, Anand Tiwari
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shreya Chaudhry, Ritwik Bhowmik
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video have been upping their game in Indian original series as compared to their leading counterparts Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and Zee5. They have produced some of the finest and loved series in last couple of years; Inside Edge, Mirzapur, The Family Man, Made In Heaven, Panchayat, and Paatal Lok to name a few. Their latest offering Bandish Bandits that dropped in August is a much needed break from the crime dramas/thrillers that fill up most OTT platforms these days.
Bandish Bandits is created by Amritpal Singh Bindra and Anand Tiwari who were one of the first creators in the Indian OTT scene. Their latest product Bandish Bandits tells a story of a singing prodigy Radhe Rathod (Ritwik Bhowmik) from classical gharana and a pop sensation Tamanna Sharma (Shreya Chaudhry). Radhe’s world turns upside down when he falls in love with Tamanna. He’s caught between supporting his love and staying true to his own music and his family’s legacy.
The lead couple (Ritwik & Shreya) here is affable and their chemistry feels natural. The contrast between their personalities brings out a fresh on-screen romance. Shreya has a natural spunk and Ritwik doesn’t seem to be just lip-syncing to the songs during his riyaz and singing sequences. The last I remember someone doing it better rather best (that I have seen) was Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar.
Naseeruddin Shah plays Panditji, an aging musical maestro of Jodhpur and Radhe’s grandfather. It’s a delight to see this acting maestro play a singing maestro, keeping secrets of his own behind his legacy. These three are ably supported by Rahul Kumar, Sheeba Chaddha, Rajesh Tailang, Amit Mistry, and Atul Kulkarni. Kunal Roy Kapur plays his usual funny self. Some kickass dialogue helps him not become monotonous. All the characters here have layers. That’s the beauty of long format storytelling. You wouldn’t see the nuances and problems of supporting characters in a feature length film.
A musical such as Bandish Bandits needs the grandeur and heritage Jodhpur provides it perfectly. Swapnali Das’ production design and Sriram Ganapathy’s cinematography give the series a vibrant, colorful and soothing look and feel. Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music is soulful. The singing and riyaz sequences in the series are its best assets (a must for a musical). Long format allows you to be indulgent and creators here make full use of that. The writers Bindra, Tiwari, Lara Chandni, and Adhir Bhat give each character their space, voice and time.
At 10 episodes with an average duration of 40 minutes, Bandish Bandits may seem to be a stretch in some episodes. My favorite episode was the second one titled Shuddhikaran which chronicles the penance of Radhe to be eligible for Ganda Bandhan (threading ceremony). I divided my viewing of this series in couple of days. Turned out to be a melodious treat.
Masaba Masaba review: Funny and breezy mother-daughter story
It is refreshing to see a series about two strong, independent and successful women without preaching feminism gyan.
Director: Sonam Nair
Cast: Masaba Gupta, Neena Gupta
Streaming on: Netflix
I wonder how comfortable or uncomfortable would it be to play yourself (or a version of you) on screen? Netflix’s new original Masaba Masaba features renowned fashion designer Masaba Gupta and her mother actress Neena Gupta playing themselves (or a version of them). Masaba who turns actor with this series seems perfectly at ease in front of the camera. Her mother Neena who has become a go-to actress to play mom post Badhaai Ho, is the show-stealer. Whenever these two women are on screen, you simply can’t take your eyes off them.
The series is semi-autobiographical. It’s difficult to distinguish between facts and fiction. The treatment is bold and funny. It is refreshing to see a series about two strong, independent and successful women without preaching feminism gyan. Masaba is a character/person which is hardly ever seen in Indian content. The similarity flashbacks of adult Masaba and child Masaba are some of the nicest sequences.
The series has delightful cameos by some lovely women – Kiara Advani, Pooja Bedi, Shibani Dandekar, Malavika Mohanan and Farah Khan (my favorite cameo). Creator Ashvini Yardi, director Sonam Nair and her team of writers (Punya Arora, Nandini Gupta, Anupama Ramchandran) have created a funny and breezy, six-episode tale of a fabulous mother-daughter duo. The dialogue is top rated and the screenplay is crisp.
The series is set in the millennial & colorful world of fashion and production design brings this aspect out excellently. I assume some of the portions must have been shot at their real home and office. The use of Instagram in the narrative is done smartly. In a world of showing off on social media how cool your life is an addiction (sickness?), many people use it as a self-defense mechanism also.
However, sometimes, the semi-autobiographical story seems to saunter around on the surface level. It doesn’t really dig deep into the psyche of the characters where the real problems lie. Things are passed on as mere information that you need to get and move on with the narrative. No time to know these two women more for Neena has often shared her issues of being forgotten/sidelined by casting directors or filmmakers, the challenges of being a single parent etc. These things haven’t been given much attention.
The series has its flaws, but life too has them. But it seems to be an attempt to embrace those flaws and celebrate the mess as you navigate through it. Worth checking this one out.
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