Dhamaka on Netflix is a middling social commentary
Cast: Kartik Aryan, Amrutha Subhash, Mrunal Thakur
Available on Netflix India
‘Hum news report nahi karte, bechte hai’ (We don’t report news, we sell it!)- this dialogue from the recently released Netflix movie Dhamaka got me thinking about the rampant commercialization of news and professional degradation of journalism in recent times.
The title of the film literally translates to the entire plot of the movie-dhamaka, an explosion.
Arjun Pathak, once a well-known TV news anchor, is demoted as RJ and presents news on the radio (RJs, please try to not take any offense!). After the opening montage of Arjun and his wife Soumya having some good times, the film jumps to the present day, where Arjun is unhappy, both professionally and personally. On this sporadic day, he gets a call from a laborer called Raghubir Mhata who confesses that he is about the explode the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and insists on getting an apology from the government for an incident that happened a few years back. Arjun takes up this opportunity to get back his prime-time slot and interviews Raghubir on live TV.
The remaining story proceeds in the confined space of a studio with Arjun trying to cover the whole incident. With certain interesting turns of events, Dhamakha keeps us entertained and hooked, but not in a jaw-dropping way. The movie is flawed in its own way. However, the makers of the film try to make Dhamaka as logical and reasonable as possible, though the darts do not hit the right targets.
Dhamaka is the official Bollywood remake of the South Korean thriller, The Terror Live, and was shot in just 10 days during the pandemic. To make a film of such magnitude in this short time requires impressive skills which are evident in the cinematography and production design of Dhamaka. The script falls short of some real ‘explosiveness’ and is scattered all over the place. The dialogues are a winner and give flashes of the ugly side of Indian media. But I cannot help but notice how the whole setup does not feel real enough. Everything feels staged, taking away the authenticity of the narrative.
One of the best things about Dhamaka is Kartik Aryan. He fleshes as a cynical ex-TV Anchor desperate to regain his lost glory. The film offers him the chance to experiment with his performance and veer away from his usual guy-next-door characters. He is as convincing and believable as Arjun Pathak. Amrutha Subhash makes up for the cliché that a media boss can endure in a Bollywood film. Her talent tries to keep the character stable though. Mrunal Thakur, who plays Soumya, Arjun’s wife has very little to offer. Soumya is Arjun’s conscience, the torchbearer of righteous journalism.
From the director of movies like Neerja and the OTT series Aarya, we end up having high expectations from Ram Madhvani. Dhamaka does not measure up against the standards he has set for himself in his previous works.
Dhamaka might not keep you at the edge of your seat but has elements to keep you engaged well enough throughout the 104 minutes of run time. Keep your expectations low and you will not be disappointed.
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