Holding a tattered page from their divorce petition, Arjun Pathak (Kartik Aaryan) recalls his first conversation with his wife Soumya (Mrunal Thakur) when he had bagged his first prime time show. The scene rewinds back to their conversation.
'Nervous?', Soumya asks Arjun to which he nods in agreement. When she too admits facing the same jitters, Arjun shoots back, "Tumhe nahin lagta ki main prime time ka show kar paunga?" Hearing this, she denies and tells him, "Nahin usme toh ek percent ka doubt bhi nahin hai. Tum jab bhi kahunge naa jo bhi kahunga sach kahunga, log tumpar aankh band karke bharosa karne waale hai." On being asked why she is nervous, Soumya quips, "Maybe isliye."
In a similar vein, Kartik Aaryan's latest Netflix release Dhamaka expects the viewers to whole-heartedly embrace the actor who seems to be finally stepping out of his comfort zone of frothy rom-coms and heart-warming bromance to play a character with a dangling conscience.
Available on: Netflix
What's Yay: Kartik Aaryan
What's Nay: Weak story
Dhamaka begins with some intimate glimpses of prime time news anchor Arjun Pathak (Kartik Aaryan) and his reporter wife Soumya Mehra Pathak (Mrunal Thakur) from their social media feed before the scene cuts to present where the former is seen sitting a divorce file in his hand.
He is now working as a radio jockey in the same media conglomerate where he was once the star anchor. On one of his usual drab working days, Arjun gets a call from a man who threatens to blow up the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai unless his demands are met. Initially thinking of it as a prank call, Arjun turns a deaf hear only to realize that the man's threats ain't empty.
While scribbling down 'exclusive' on a paper, it dawns upon Arjun that this could be a perfect opportunity for him to reclaim his prime time show in exchange of the 'explosive' news. He dials up his boss Ankita (Amruta Subhash) and informs her of his findings. In the next few minutes, he quickly slips into his razor sharp look complete with zero power glasses, unknown to the fact that the proceeding events are all set to make a big 'dhamaka' in his life; both personally and professionally.
Ram Madhvani, the man behind Sonam Kapoor's film Neerja and Sushmita Sen's Emmy-nominated web series Aarya picks up the South Korean flick A Terror Live and reshapes in to fit into the Bollywood mould.
Through Dhamaka, he tries to give the audience a peek into what goes inside TRP hungry newsrooms and how "logon ke pas sach dhoondhne, samajhne ka time nahi hai." It's interesting how he doesn't attribute faces to the audience who are supposedly watching these news channels. Madhvani maintains a balance in his story-telling by showing two faces of the same coin of journalism through his characters Arjun and Soumya.
On the flip side, the film scores less in the detailing of certain events which leaves you baffled at some points. Also, things tend to get too dramatic and exaggerated at places in a film which is supposed to throw light on the harsh reality of journalism. In a bid to focus on how 'breaking news' are created, Madhvani and his co-writer Puneet Sharma fail to tap into the emotional depth of the plot which could have made for a more effective film.
Kartik Aaryan ditches the sugary romantic hero act to pick up a character whose actions constantly keeps one guessing whether it's right or wrong. The film lies entirely on Kartik's shoulders and they turn out to be sturdy. He is one of the reasons why the thriller doesn't collapse in a heap when the writing is filled with plot holes and exaggeration at some points.
Mrunal Thakur in an extended cameo plays her part well. Amruta Subhash as the belligerent sans any empathetic bone makes for a brazenly delightful watch. Vikas Kumar and Vikramjeet Pradhan barely get a chance to exhibit their acting potentials.
Manu Anand's ace cinematography perfectly creates a claustrophobic environment for this pacy thriller. Manas Choudhury's sound design also adds to the tension and thrills in the film. Monisha Baldawa keeps her editing scissors sharp which prevents the film from falling all over places when the writing hits a block.
Prateek Kuhad's 'Kasoor' featuring Kartik and Mrunal starts Dhamaka on a light note. Towards the end, the film leaves you with some pondering thoughts with Puneet Sharma's 'Khoya Paaya' for company.
In a crucial scene, Karthik Aaryan's character Arjun parrots his boss' advice while dealing with a traumatic experience and says, "An anchor is an actor. An actor wants an audience. The audience wants drama." While Kartik does manage to get an audience for Dhamaka, the film goes a little tipsy in terms of maintaining a fine balance between drama and realism.
We give 3 stars out of 5 for Kartik Aaryan-Mrunal Thakur starrer Dhamaka.