Streaming on Netflix 19th November 202
In his short career so far Ram Madhvani has proved his worth as a director with works across genres. In both Neerja and Let’s Talk the director made use of the limited space and kept you thoroughly engrossed. He has casted actors against the type and drawn wonderful performances from them. For example Sonam Kapoor delivered her career best performance in Neerja. Similarly Sushmita Sen got a rare author backed role in the web series Aarya, the actress made complete use of that opportunity.
In Dhamaka, Ram Madhvani places his bet on Karthik Aryan. Karthik is someone who is best known for his boy- next door image thanks to films like Luka Chhupi and Pati Patni Aur Woh. Many eyebrows were raised when the announcement came of these two working together. However, after watching Dhamaka it becomes clear that Karthik has reinvented himself as Arjun Pathak. For those who are not aware the film is a remake of the South Korean one Terror Live.
Dhamaka begins on a romantic note with Arjun Pathak recalling the lovely moments that he has spent with his wife Saumya Mehra Pathak (Mrunal Thakur). This sequence sets up the story nicely. As the story progresses we come to know that Arjun Pathak was a prime time anchor on a popular news channel, However, he has now been demoted to a Radio Jockey in the same media house. On the personal front too things aren’t going too well as his marriage is on the brink of divorce. One day a random caller Raghubir Mehata ( Soham Majumdar) calls and threatens to blow up the Mumbai sea link bridge. Arjun Pathak doesn’t take it seriously and thinks that it is a hoax. However, he later realizes that it isn’t a hoax and things start getting out of control. Just like A Wednesday initially we think that the caller is a terrorist but he turns out to be a common man with anger against the government. His father was a construction worker. This is just a summary of the story.
One of the most striking aspects of Dhamaka is how Ram Madhvani uses the location of the newsroom. The story is mostly confined to the newsroom. The director once again shows his ability in capturing the emotions within a confined space. The multiple cameras set up are used effectively by the director. This can be particularly seen during a breaking news scenario.
Another thing that keeps you engrossed is the dilemmas of Arjun Pathak. He is reporting a terrorist attack from the newsroom and negotiating with a man who is responsible for it. On the other hand, his wife Saumya Mehra is reporting live from the site and is helping hostages. All this keeps you engaged throughout. Mrunal Thakur’s Saumya Mehra is a righteous journalist whose values are different from Arjun. Mrunal has a short role but she serves her purpose well as the moral compass.
Dhamaka tries to tackle many things at once. You have corrupt ministers, the angst of the common man, the business of selling news, the world of TRPS etc. These are too many things to handle and the strain of it eventually shows, but the relevance of these issues can’t be ignored either.
The biggest ace of the film though is Karthik Aryan’s performance. Arjun Pathak is a far departure from the usual Karthik Aryan roles. There are a lot of nuances to the character and Karthik Aryan does absolute justice to it. It is a treat to watch the actor embracing the grey shades of the role.
One of the major flaws of Dhamaka is its inability to sustain after a thrilling start. The film begins off with a high note; it is successful in establishing the story without wasting any time but as the plot progresses a sense of monotony creeps in. Another issue is that the supporting characters are one note types with no nuances. The biggest example of that is the character of Amruta Subhash. She plays an assertive boss who only cares for TRPS. It is a part which comes across as too loud. The supporting characters in Neerja and Aarya were far better than what you see here.
In the final analysis, Karthik Aryan delivers a Dhamaka performance but the same cannot be said about the film.