On Thursday, when I opened a ticket booking application on my phone, Razneesh Razy Ghai’s Dhaakad had multiple shows. On Friday the numbers decreased. Yesterday, when I actually went to watch the film, there were bare minimum shows in my city. Multiplex giants, PVR and INOX, are running one show per day, that too at odd hours. Now, I get that people don’t want to watch a “not good film”. But, very recently, we’ve had Bachchan Pandey, Heropanti 2 and Jayeshbhai Jordaar among others and while Ranveer Singh managed to make Jayeshbhai Jordaar a little bearable, the first two were unbearable films. The number of shows of those didn’t go down. A couple of years ago, during the promotions of Rangoon, Kangana Ranaut had spoken of the “movie mafia”. Then she went on to express her personal political views, and since, everything has been downhill for her. But her views or statements don’t mean that her film doesn’t deserve an opening, or a show. A film is not a one person show, and that realisation needs to be arrived at.
But is Dhaakad a watchable film? Maybe, maybe not. But what’s definitely to look out for are the performances in the film. Kangana Ranaut and Divya Dutta stand at the front of the film at all times. Even the men, Arjun Rampal and Saswata Chatterjee deliver promising performances. But the storytelling of Dhaakad is weak and the editing improper. The writing of Dhaakad has potential but it never delivers, mainly because it doesn’t ever establish a beginning and an end. It’s there for namesake, but that’s about it.
Kangana Ranaut plays Agent Agni, who is a one woman army. She is a spy who is here to kill a coal mafia who also happens to run a human trafficking business. Barring Taapsee Pannu in Naam Shabana, I don’t remember the last time a woman spy wasn’t just a prop, or a character built out of the fake urge to empower. It’s ironic how Pannu and Ranaut have changed that narrative through their characters, Shabana and Agni. But while Shabana had a narrative to build around, Agni is devoid of it. It’s lovely to see a woman lead a film like this, but Dhaakad lacks in the telling. Agni is what almost every action hero is – she’s burdened by a past and wants revenge. She’s on the very of being stereotyped, but isn’t there yet. And a lot of that needs to be credited to Kangana Ranaut and her capabilities as an actor. Do good performances exist in a not-so-good film? Yes they do. Ranaut, who has played a mafia-ish character in Revolver Rani – one of my favourite performances of her, works above the writing of Dhaakad. She looks beyond what the film is trying to tell and her performance remains stagnantly good. It’s like she wants to prove a point to someone that she is indeed the mafia.
The supporting cast – Divya Dutta, Arjun Rampal and Saswata Chatterjee walk shoulder to shoulder with Ranaut. Rampal, as always, has a very unique vibe to him. He lends his Rudra Veer a voice and manner like never before. Chatterjee shows that he definitely is one of the most reliable actors, especially when it comes to having a sinister grin. And then there’s Divya Dutta! She plays the queen of the sex trade racket, she’s the finance head. “Gudiya se pehle gaddi se khele hain,” says a younger version of her character. Dutta delivers a performance that’s expected of her – nuanced, polished.
But despite these efforts, Dhaakad almost never works. Had the editing been crisper, the film would’ve done well. A 15 minute long action sequence at the coal mins is exhausting to watch. As is the same flashback at least three times. Childhood trauma, position of women in society, personal vs public – Dhaakad tries to explore many themes, all of them very important. But sadly, Dhaakad tries to talk about too much at once, and ends up talking about nothing. So what we get is a combination of themes touched upon at the surface level blended with action sequences borrowed from Hollywood films.
Dhaakad may not the best best film, it’s a far cry from that. But even then, and I’m repeating my point, it deserves a fair chance at the box office.
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