There’s never a quiet moment and virtually no time to pause or reflect in the speeding bullet train that is Dishoom. Good call. The film is crammed with childish humor, expensive set-pieces, gratuitous songs, and cheeky cameos. These jostle for space with an excuse for a plot that involves two mismatched cops tasked with solving the kidnapping of a star Indian batsman in the Middle East.
John Abraham is Kabir, an officer of the Indian special task force, who sports a permanent scowl from having been cheated on by his girlfriend. Varun Dhawan is Junaid, a bumbling but enthusiastic rookie cop in Abu Dhabi who must work with Kabir to locate and rescue Viraj (Saqib Saleem) before the India vs Pakistan final that’s two days away. There’s also Jacqueline Fernandez playing a petty thief who crosses paths with our heroes, then sticks by their side for no good reason except to shake her booty during a song amidst a whole basement full of leering men.
Akshaye Khanna turns up too, as a villainous bookie named Wagah, and naturally that name prompts the explanation that he’s neither from India nor Pakistan. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reveal that Kabir and Junaid do trace the cricketer eventually, and that, by the way, is thanks to a series of plot contrivances including a conveniently stolen mobile phone and a resourceful pug.
It’s true…none of this sounds particularly original or promising on paper. But co-writer and director Rohit Dhawan – evidently raised on a staple diet of David Dhawan, Rohit Shetty and Hollywood buddy-cop movies – knows a thing or two about pacing. The film unfolds at breakneck speed and Dhawan throws so much at the screen, it’s impossible to be bored.
The film’s most hilarious scene involves a cameo by Akshay Kumar who sportingly sends up his image as Bollywood’s most macho star by playing an obviously gay party boy who orders our heroes to strip down to their underwear in exchange for his help with the case. Another running joke that delivers plenty laughs sees Junaid repeatedly humiliated by a caller who insists on telling him how bad he looks in a matrimonial ad that he’s posted.
The absence of sentimentality in the ‘bromance’ between Kabir and Junaid is particularly refreshing for this kind of film, but multiple attempts to evoke patriotism come off as forced. John and Varun do their schtick competently, and it’s nice to see Akshaye Khanna back on screen after what seems like ages.
You won’t remember Dishoom for its plot or for its performances. It’s like junk food that’s meant to be savored in the moment, but cannot be counted on for nutrition. At two hours flat it’s that rare masala film that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
I’m going with three out of five. I was entertained.