Dishoom is a silly but fun reworking of the time-tested buddy cop formula.  If you don’t ask too many questions – especially in the outrageously illogical second half – you can have a pretty good time.  Director and co-writer Rohit Dhawan isn’t aiming for anything more.  It’s slick, seductive, disposable entertainment.

The rules of the buddy cop film dictate that two absolutely different personalities are forced to partner together to solve a crime.  Akira Kurosawa introduced the trope in 1949 with Stray Dog.  Since then every decade has thrown up its own variation – from 48 Hrs. to Lethal Weapon to Rush Hour to The Heat.  Rohit and co-writer Tushar Hiranandani stay safely within the genre boundaries.

John Abraham plays the abrasive, mercurial, sullen Kabir Shergill from India’s Special Task Force.  Varun Dhawan is Junaid, the over-enthusiastic, eager-to-please, hyper-energetic rookie.  They are forced to partner up when India’s greatest cricket player, Viraj, is kidnapped one day before the India-Pakistan final.  Junaid is so ineffective that he can’t even find a missing dog.  Kabir is so brilliant that he is sent over to the Middle East by the External Affairs Minister herself.  Junaid likes Yo Yo Honey Singh.  Kabir wants Kishore Kumar.  You know exactly how this will play out.

The first half of the film is both gripping and comical.  Hussain Dalal’s dialogues are cheesy but entertaining. But the writing gets inexcusably lazy in the second half. The sloppiest element in Dishoom is the script. Instead of a well-crafted plot, Rohit throws Ayananka Bose’s sexy visuals at us – beautifully lit buildings, yachts, cars, private planes, helicopters and an uncomfortably voyeuristic item song, which requires Jacqueline Fernandez to dance in front of leering men who will then arm-wrestle to spend the night with her.  But Rohit gets away with it because the other elements in the film work – the biggest ace being his brother Varun. 

Varun has an energy that is infectious and winning.  John also works well as the inexpressive, brooding hulk.  And the icing on the cake is a laugh-out-loud cameo by Akshay Kumar in a manbun, who gets our boys to strip to their trunks.

I was happy to see the talented Akshaye Khanna back on screen but his character doesn’t really develop into anything memorable. There’s also Saqib Saleem, Mohinder Amarnath, Satish Kaushik as a voice artist and Parineeti Chopra, showing off her svelte new body.

All in all, there’s more than enough to escape into.  If this does turn into a franchise, I have one request for Rohit – can the Akshay Kumar character also be a lead?

I’m going with three stars.

 

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