Hindi Reviews

Dhamaka Review: An Improbable Tale, But Quick, Undemanding Entertainment

In Dhamaka, a man’s two basal instincts go to war with one another. Kartik Aaryan as Arjun Pathak, a TV anchor, has fallen out of favour with his boss (Amruta Subash) and been demoted to the radio floor. Arjun is a bored radio jockey, looking for a break to seize his former position as primetime news anchor. His wife – Mrunal Thakur as Saumya Pathak – is a reporter at the same media house. When the film begins, we watch merry visuals of the young couple, being young and enjoying the pleasures of coupledom. They are presumably in love, cavort in lovely interiors, newly and happily married. Surprisingly, these moments aren’t cheesy the way romance is often depicted on Indian screens. The actors are at ease, comfortably intimate, and genuinely seeming to enjoy the other’s company. Just as we begin to warm up to them and their; antics, their rosy lives abruptly come to an end.  


South Korean cinema is great at conjuring the implausible, and making it seem real and true on screen. In Dhamaka, which is a remake of the Korean film The Terror Live (2013), there are glimpses of what the original might have been. The Bollywood version moves fast after the initial frames that establish the context and the characters. One moment, Arjun and Saumya are shooting yet another cutesy couple picture to ‘gram, and the next, Arjun holds their divorce papers – we don’t quite know why until the end. He also channels the ensuing bitterness into soulless-but-cheery conversations with his listeners. One morning, when he settles into yet another robotic conversation, Arjun is jolted awake by a caller who threatens – and eventually carries out a terror attack.  

By far, Dhamaka upholds a pace, and it’s easy to fall in step with it – no complex threads to unravel, or mental games that you need to keep abreast of. When the caller – seemingly an impoverished citizen let down by the state – threatens to blow up the Sealink in Mumbai and actually does it, Arjun immediately categorizes it as an opportunity to reclaim his lost position. He doesn’t report it to the authorities as sane people may do, but uses it to negotiate his way up with his boss. Soon though, he quickly realises what he willingly signed up for – no, we don’t get flashes of conscience until there’s an immediate threat to his being. Then, Arjun’s desires (i) to get ahead in his career – a primitive urban instinct, this – and (ii) his visceral response to being under attack, fight to survive. 


What follows is an inconceivable and entirely irrational sequence of events. During one instance, Arjun’s boss – a ruthless television head solely focused on maximising TRPs – pays up the ransom that the attacker demands to stay exclusive on the channel. It’s an entirely ludicrous premise even when you pass it off as a cruel urban construct. The next hour rapidly devolves into seemingly high-octane negotiations (with possibly disastrous consequences) between Arjun, his boss, the caller, and officials from the anti-terrorism unit for good measure. We don’t quit though – because for all its improbability and crude drama, Dhamaka’s strength lies in its pacing, and not dwelling on a plot feature for a moment longer than it needs to.  


This Dhamaka review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.