Bollywood can now stake a claim to the big brainless action blockbuster that Hollywood could once call its very own. Perhaps this really is the Indian century! Dhoom 2 is all flash and flesh containing extravagant musical numbers with enough back up dancers to fill Yankee Stadium, absurd action sequences that defy gravity and common sense and enough scantily clad eye candy to fill your jelly bean bowl for months. This film may have the intelligence of road kill, but it is divertingly entertaining and pure fun popcorn nonsense. This is the sequel to Dhoom and brings back Jai and Ali who are this time after a master thief and man of many faces instead of a motorcycle gang. At times one might wonder if they are instead in the middle of a very long aerobics info commercial rather than a crime caper as the camera slavishly and lovingly follows every well toned revealing curve of the actors.
This not only goes for the two female leads – Aishwarya Rai and Bipasha Basu - but even more so for Hrithik Roshan who has buffed up enormously over the past couple of years and is now in competition with Salman Khan for the prestigious Filmfare award of “Most Scenes Going Shirtless”. Only poor Abhishek Bachchan is forced to cover up in the film – whether due to his hirsute body or his lack of gym regimen is impossible to say – but this is no doubt the reason why he looks so grumpy throughout. Even his sidekick gets to take off his shirt. Most radically attempting to change her image is the ice queen Aishwarya Rai, who has always opted for high style over low sex, but is found here provocatively sashaying her bottom in hotpants and leather like a ten dollar street hooker. She quite honestly never looks quite at ease in her character and the film's hip hop dance style is a shamefully big waste of her amazing dancing skills. For Bipasha it’s more of the same – thrusting bosom and bare midriff and that is just fine by me.
Within all of this sweaty narcissism is a story of sorts with a few enjoyable action scenes from Alan Amin who shows some definite imagination in staging them. The film begins with the theft of Her Majesty’s Royal Crown from a moving train across the Namibia desert by a global master criminal who always leaves the letter “A” behind him. In a scene that would be right at home in a James Bond opening, “A” (Hrithik) parachutes from a helicopter on to the moving train, disguises himself as the Queen to remove the crown and then escapes by snow boarding across the sand – after of course knocking the prerequisite number of guards off the top of the train. These sorts of scenes still lack the technical sophistication and realism that other film industries can bring to them – i.e. Hong Kong, the United States – but it is a big welcome leap from where they were only a few years ago.
In Mumbai Jai (Abhishek) is assigned the case and in a nanosecond realizes that there is a definite pattern in the series of thefts that “A” (for Aryan) has committed around the world -smart guy this – and that Mumbai will be next on his list. Even with this knowledge though Jai and his two partners – Ali (Uday Chopra) and Shonali (Bipasha) - are unable to stop Aryan’s next daring theft – leading to a great chase across Mumbai. But the clever Jai has another card up his sleeve – the beautiful Sunehri (Aish). He has a hold on this petty criminal and forces her to work her way into Aryan’s confidence and his heart! How could he resist a woman who greets him with “I’m so hot”, has a good jumper in basketball, eats burgers and talks about herself in third person as in “Sunehri always gets what she wants”. Next destination Rio – and they all end up in Copacabana in a game of cat and mouse with Jai and Aryan always trying to stay one step ahead of the other.
Bollywood is always a competition and as soon as the film hit the screens everyone was speculating on which of the two big male stars did better with nearly everyone siding with Hrithik. I suppose that is true in that he certainly had the more interesting role – poor Jai has a pregnant wife at home and never even gets to woo the girl – and Hrithik’s torso and dancing are certainly impressive – but to call what he does acting is rather a misnomer – it is closer to preening I suspect and he honestly doesn’t have a true emotional moment in the film. But that could be said of the entire film - it is emotionally completely hollow. But that’s not really what this film is about – it’s about spectacle and it gives us plenty of that. This formula certainly worked for producers Yash Raj as this was an enormous hit both at home and abroad and there is no doubt that more films like this will be headed our ways.
My rating for this film: 7.5