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Subhash K Jha speaks about Dhol

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Priyadarshan used to be one of my favourite filmmakers...until he decided to turn into a funny-man and churn out comedies at the speed of a roadside gol-guppa wallah serving up those broken balls of spiced-up fire filled with contaminated water.

Over-spiced, utterly impure in intent and thoroughly suspect in execution, Priyan Sir's comedies have gone from worse (Malamaal Weekly,) to worst (Bhagam Bhaag) ...to indescribably putrid and unpalatable in his latest all-boys-no-brains comedy about four guys with a chronic nervous twitch who have nothing better to do than run across a self-consciously-created studio suburbia and ogle at fat legs in short skirts in this short –legged run across a stretched-out skit.

Losers are a barrel full of laughs in Priyan's cinematic vision. Yeah, Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty were a laugh riot in Hera Pheri. But the 'boys' who followed the farce have gone to seed in rapid succession.

Priyan's comedies have a distinctly accentuated ambience...junior artistes hover pretending to be casual in crowded street scenes. But bustle is as real as contestants in a reality show pretending to be camera-oblivious. The ambience here exudes a phoney functionalism derived not from the desire to create real life but to manufacture a farcical facsimile of life's most risible and uninspiring moments.

In making the ludicrous lucrative, Priyan has somewhere lost the plot. Big-time. The narrative in Dhol is carpeted with corny one-liners and gags picked up from stand-up comedies and nautanki performances in the open fields of South Indian villages where anything goes.

The loud louts of Dhol are played by four of our talented young actors who together compromise a kind of group incentive at the boxoffice. Almost every frame has the quartet out-talking one another, spraying water and spit(what difference does it make) in this ode to noise pollution.

The idle chatter of the cafe culture in a small town is created with some care for the conventions of a narrative pattern, and full marks to Priyan's steady art director Sabu Cyril for getting that right. The rest of the ambience is manufactured in conveyer-belt style...Jars of unopened bottles of jam and pickle, DVDs 'casually' thrown around to express that touch of authenticity (one scene has a DVD of Sholay and another of J.P.Dutta's Umrao Jaan prominently displayed) ...you name it, Priyan labels it. Tragically props in this parody go just that far and no further in salvaging a disastrous voyage into the valley of the droll.

The film opens with a Terina Patel music video as Arbaaz Khan tries to act mysterious and macho....Cut to the four slothful heroes and their shrill landlady(gawd, didn't we see this quarrelsome quintet in the far-more-palatable Dhamaal two weeks ago???). ...The disembodied images persist in their feverish propulsions until the fidgety foursome gets fatuously feisty and flirtatious panting after Tanushree Dutta whose wardrobe and makeup smack of casual 'grease'.

Elegance and understatement in words and wardrobe are a primary casualty in Dhol and its clamorous ilk of comedies. Somewhere towards the end, the film's title is runbustiously recalled. Villain Murli Sharma (menace in full uniform) starts stalking Tanushree and Payal Rohatgi(she , trying hard to shed her oomphy image) to retrieve a Dhol filled with money.

No wonder Pritam's music comes out sounding so stilted! Borrowing a mean streak from the Cartoon Network the villains slap and pound the intellectually-challenged heroes to a pulp. Nobody comes to any grievous injury. Except the audience. And poor Om Puri and his screen-wife Farida Dadi who also get slapped around. But that's the least of their worries in a film that demands even the most talented of actors to get seriously brain-dead.

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