The Film: Dus
Terrorists, bombs n bullets, anti-terrorist squads
Haven't we seen all this and more before? Post 9/11, film-makers across the globe have tried to depict mass-killings and atrocities by terrorist groups and how anti-terrorist squads put up a fight to diffuse the crisis.
After attempting love stories in the past [TUM BIN, AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI], Anubhav Sinha's third outing DUS ventures on a different path altogether. DUS is different from films of its ilk because the story takes place in a span of ten days, with the conspiracy being hatched in faraway Canada. The key conspirator plans to wreck havoc when the Indian Prime Minister undertakes a goodwill visit to Canada
An interesting idea without doubt, but interesting ideas don't necessarily translate into interesting, gripping, riveting, spellbinding 2-hour films.
What could've been an exhilarating thriller, with pulse-pounding moments, ends up being a run of the mill saga, courtesy a half-baked screenplay. Terrorism is a global issue and since DUS goes beyond the shores of India, the writers could've used their imagination and packed the film with moments that would've made your jaws fall on your knees.
The problem here is, every person talks about the much-dreaded terrorist [who is holed up in Canada], the terror associated with his name, his vast syndicate, his evil intentions, his nefarious activities
but when a lone member of the anti-terrorist squad corners the kingpin in the end, he comes across as a ordinary gangster, with no empire, no henchmen, no support-system to back him. So, what was this hullabaloo all about?
Director Anubhav Sinha tries to camouflage the defect [lackluster screenplay] with stylish execution, great music, hair-raising stunts, eye-filling visuals, but let's not forget that the moviegoer wants to listen to a captivating story at the end of the day. Everything else is secondary!
Sanjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan and Shilpa Shetty work for the anti-terrorist cell. They get to understand that a dreaded terrorist in Canada [of Indian origin] is set to wreak havoc when the Indian Prime Minister is supposed to visit Canada, killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process.
Sanju instructs Abhishek and Zayed to reach Canada and thwart the mission. On their arrival, they meet Esha Deol, who is entrusted the responsibility of helping them accomplish this arduous task. Suniel Shetty, the local cop, follows them since they're driving rashly. But they're confronted by gunmen at this point and Suniel gets injured.
Meanwhile, they kidnap Pankaj Kapoor, one of the henchmen of the terrorist, and try to extract information from him. And the search for the terrorist begins...
DUS is modeled on the lines of a Hollywood flick. You realize you're all set to watch a slick flick at the very outset [the film begins with the stylish and snazzy 'Dus Bahane']. The sequence thereafter -- the squad diffusing a bomb placed in a vehicle -- is expertly executed. In the following sequence, the squad reveals the conspiracy when they meet the Home Minister. So far, so good!
The story takes a turn when two members from the squad [Abhishek, Zayed] are assigned the responsibility of going to Canada to put a spanner to the mission. The first question that crosses your mind is, Why don't they seek help from their Canadian counterparts? If they're genuinely running out of time and when it involves the lives of 25,000 Canadians and also the Prime Minister of India, why not inform the Government of Canada so as to get on the task of nabbing the dreaded terrorist pronto?
Strangely, the two guys want to reach out to the terrorist without any gameplan, without any support from the locals, without much info on the terrorist. We're told that a representative of the squad [Esha Deol] would guide them in Canada, but she doesn't really contribute in taking the story forward. On the contrary, you find Abhishek and Esha exchanging lovey-dovey looks. Hello, but aren't they on a mission?
The first half of the film is racy enough, although you realize time and again that the writing could've been much better. But it's in the post-interval portions that the screenplay goes haywire. In the first place, when you've four lead characters and their love interests to look into, you automatically deviate from the core issue and divert the proceedings to romance and songs. Something similar happens here. Abhishek and Esha are attracted to each other, Suniel wants to patch up with his wife Raima, Zayed keeps thinking of Dia.
Frankly, one fails to understand what really prompted writers Yash-Vinay to focus on the romantic liaisons? Only the Sanju-Shilpa love story appears convincing, otherwise the romantic sequences of the remaining three pair looks contrived.
Even in the finale, when Abhishek learns of Esha's motive and confronts her, she suddenly realizes that she loves him and boards his aircraft. But minutes before their meeting, she had turned her face away from him in the stadium. Why this sudden somersault?
The finale has loopholes aplenty. How does Sanju realize that the person he just confronted is the dreaded terrorist? When no one knows what he looks like, when Sanju hasn't seen his pic ever, how did he zero on the terrorist? Again, no explanations are offered, no answers are forthcoming!
Anubhav Sinha has concentrated more on giving the film a slick look than narrating a gripping story and this fact reverberates at several points in the film. There's no denying that DUS bears the stamp of an upmarket product all through, but how one wishes the director and the writers would've ensured that the film has a power-packed screenplay to offer as well.
Writers Yash-Vinay have chosen an interesting idea, but the screenplay backfires completely. The writing is the most glaring defect of the enterprise and the flaws just cannot be overlooked. Dialogues [Anubhav Sinha] are quite good at places. Cinematography [Vijay Arora] is outstanding.
Vishal-Shekhar's music is top grade. 'Dus Bahane' and 'Deedar De' are already chartbusters and their placement is perfect. The engagement song, 'Chham Se', is also melodious. Allan Amin's stunts are electrifying. Surely, this guy can compete with the best in the West, if given opportunities.
DUS has a huge star cast, but at the end of the day it's Abhishek Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt [in that order] who stand out with spirited performances. Abhishek is likeable, while Sanju lends the right maturity to his role.
Suniel Shetty is okay, while Zayed Khan passes muster. Amongst girls, Shilpa Shetty is the best of the lot. Her stunt [at the start of the film] is awesome. Esha Deol wears a blank look. Dia Mirza and Raima Sen get minimal scope.
Pankaj Kapoor is efficient, proving yet again that he's amongst the finest actors on the scene. Gulshan Grover gets no lines to deliver, except look ferociously at the camera.
On the whole, DUS has an impressive star cast, the hit tracks ['Dus Bahane' and 'Deedar De'] and vibrant action as its trump card. But, on the flip side, the film doesn't have the content to keep you hooked to the proceedings for the next two hours. At the box-office, the film will embark on a strong start, but it doesn't have the merits to sustain after the initial curiosity subsides. The terrific start will ensure a quick, part recovery for its distributors, before it slows down.