REVIEW: ‘Dhamaka’ is Exaggerated, But Totally Right

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Dhamaka - But Why Tho

Dhamaka is a Hindi-language Netflix Original drama directed and written by Ram Madhvani with additional writing by Puneet Sharma and production by RSVP and Ram Madhvani Films. The film is a remake of 2013’s The Terror Live by Kim Byung-woo. Ex-news anchor Arjun Pathak (Kartik Aaryan) is miserable in his demotion to a radio news jockey as he pours over fresh, diverse papers from the love of his life. But as he begins his day on air, a call comes in from a speaker who claims he has planted bombs on the Mumbai Sea Link bridge and will blow it up if he does not receive an apology for the three laborers whose deaths while building the bridge was covered up.

At first, Dhamaka feels like it will be a really annoying movie filled with really annoying people. Immediately when the film starts, you’re shown a deadbeat Arjun freshly served diverse papers. However, as soon as he gets the call about the bomb, he decides to turn it into a breaking news story rather than call the police. He’s clearly more interested in making a name for himself once again than anything else. And when his boss Ankita (Amruta Subhash) comes into the picture, she is one of the most irritating characters I’ve seen in a long time. She’s utterly obsessed with ratings and will stop at nothing to make this exclusive news story a feather in her career’s cap. She’s a totally unlikable and uncharismatic caricature of a character in a way that never became less frustrating.

But, it becomes evident quickly that this is the point. Because as the plot unravels, and the terrorist Raghubeer’s (Soham Majumdar) motives become more apparent, and the authorities become involved, you realize two things: he has a serious point, and Arjun is getting played just as badly as Raghubeer.

With an intense pace, your sympathy for both Arjun and Raghubeer becomes cemented quickly when Raghubeer’s simple demand for an apology from the Minister of Transportation is repeatedly denied on account of both a TV station seeking a rating boost and a government unwilling to hold itself accountable. Look, he’s a terrorist, and we can debate to the end of eternity whether a government should ever cede to the demands of somebody who is blowing up bridges, no matter how sympathetic they are. But you are incapable of not seeing his point as Arjun is abused by his bosses and played by the government. Therefore, Raghubeer’s pleas for sympathy and respect for the laborers and other poor people in society are entirely effective and frankly warranted.

I’m split on Aaryan’s performance. On the one hand, he has some really emotionally intense moments, especially opposite Majumdar. You can tell how completely conflicted he is every moment, knowing that the TV station couldn’t care less about him or any other person’s safety as long as their ratings go up while also believing that Raghubeer is deserving of an apology. But at the same time, there is just something about him that feels forced. Maybe it’s an unfortunate side effect of being surrounded by such completely incompetent, selfish, and generally awful people. The government anti-terrorist representative Praveen (Vikas Kumar) is as frustrating a caricature as Ankita. Neither has any dimension other than as an unscrupulous producer and an emotionless government/police agent. It drained the energy from Aaryan’s scenes and left me frustrated in the wrong kind of ways.

Because it’s clear a movie meant to draw your ire. Who isn’t standing by and ready to criticize the media and the government? But, unfortunately, the criticism is too exaggerated and heavy-handed when combined with flat characters delivering the side you’re supposed to root against. Fortunately, though, Aaryan’s performances are not dragged down by that energy. The plot and concept alone are enough to propel the movie into the zone of being entertaining and thought-provoking.

Dhamaka is over-exaggerated and bloated by its mediocre secondary characters. Still, its action, drama, and main character carry it strong enough to warrant a watch and get you frustrated by the media and governments’ general unwillingness to admit where they cause harm or do anything to be better.

Dhamaka is streaming now on Netflix.


Dhamaka
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Dhamaka is over-exaggerated and bloated by its mediocre secondary characters. Still, its action, drama, and main character carry it strong enough to warrant a watch and get you frustrated by the media and governments’ general unwillingness to admit where they cause harm or do anything to be better.