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Rajeev Masand’s Review of Total Dhamaal

By Rajeev Masand 23 February, 2019 2 min read
Rajeev Masand’s Review of Total Dhamaal

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgan, Madhuri Dixit, Ritesh Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Javed Jaffrey, Boman Irani, Sanjay Mishra, Pitobash, Vijay Patkar, Esha Gupta
Director: Indra Kumar

We’ve made peace with the fact that there’s a brand of films that requires us to leave our brain at home. But Total Dhamaal, third in the comedy franchise from director Indra Kumar, doesn’t just ask you to leave your brain behind, it also expects you to wipe clean your memory before entering the cinema.
Erase all recollection of the better movies Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit have made together. Forget that Ritesh Deshmukh, Boman Irani and Sanjay Mishra are some of the finest comic actors in Bollywood. And pretend that Ajay Devgan doesn’t frequently deliver terrific poker-face timing. Because there’s no way to get through Total Dhamaal if these better memories still linger.

If you think about it, Total Dhamaal is basically a remake of Dhamaal from 2007. Both films are about a bunch of strangers and their madcap pursuit of stolen wealth hidden in a far-flung spot. But don’t forget, that was the premise of the 1963 classic It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. So what you’re watching is essentially a rehash of a rip-off.
Indra Kumar pairs up his actors to chase 50 crore rupees in loot. Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit are a constantly bickering couple at the cusp of divorce. Ajay Devgan and his sidekick Sanjay Mishra are well-groomed thugs. Ritesh Deshmukh and Pitobash are firemen who charge a premium for priority rescue of residents from a burning building. Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaffrey are not-so-bright siblings who get into a scrape with a smart car. And Boman Irani is a corrupt police commissioner joined at the hip by his wisecracking subordinate Vijay Patkar.

The film feels more like an obstacle race than a coherent narrative as these pairs traverse land, sea and sky to get to the money. Total Dhamaal is really a series of set pieces strung together to resemble a plot. Some of these are genuinely funny, like a bit where Ritesh Deshmukh, stranded at the top of an under-construction building with Pitobash, makes false pledges to God. Or Johnny Lever’s cameo as a fellow who’s refashioned his auto-rickshaw into a helicopter. The real tragedy is watching Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit’s easy chemistry wasted in a film that has very little use of it.

As you probably know if you’ve watched the trailer, it all culminates in a zoo with a bunch of tacky computer-generated animals running amok. Presumably by this time even the filmmakers have realised that no sane adult could still be invested in the movie so the final act is a shameless attempt to woo younger, potentially more forgiving audiences.

I want to say here that I’m not against comedies that require complete suspension of disbelief. But even that requires thought, clever writing, and a lightness of touch. Total Dhamaal has none of those things. It’s a cash-grab film that believes ‘bigger is better’. Alas it’s not. From multiple remix songs, to the low-IQ racist and sexist humour, and a reliance on familiar gags and tropes, this is lazy, cynical filmmaking. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

Rating: 1.5 / 5

Written by
Rajeev Masand

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