After the euphoria of last week’s release, Gully Boy, comes the downer. If you’ve watched the trailer of Total Dhamaal, you know what to expect – over-the-top humour, tired Bollywood clichés of bumbling sidekicks and lungi-clad nariyal paniwalas, and the mandatory peppy item numbers set to 80s remixes.
Indra Kumar’s homage to the 1963 cult comedy, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, has a first-rate ensemble cast embroiled in a madcap chase to be the first to find a 500-million rupee jackpot stashed away in a zoo. The laughs are few and far between and what’s worse, you can see them coming from a mile away.
The cast boasts a mix of A-listers and Bollywood’s comedy legends. You only wish they had been given a vehicle worthy of their talent.
But here’s the good news. Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit still have that crackling chemistry. Even when they are burdened with a dull-as-ditchwaterscript – the writers have Madhuri climbing up a palm tree to raise a laugh– they relish their roles as a bickering Gujarati husband and Maharashtrian wife with gusto. We are introduced to them as the couple who is getting divorced in court and Madhuri simply sparkles in this scene.
The familiar trio of Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaaferi are reunited, with Arshad and Javed reprising their roles as the sibling duo of Adi-Manav (get it?). They join in the chase to the jackpot with a hi-tech car that has a mind of its own. Riteish, as the mercenary fireman Lallan who rescues people that pay him the most, gets the film’s corniest sequence co-starring the great Johnny Lever and a helicopter made from an auto rickshaw.
Ajay Devgn, whose production house financed this misadventure, is all swag and no substance; Sanjay Mishra as his sidekick is utterly wasted. Similarly, Boman Irani has little to do, except being slapped by his sidekick, the always-reliable Vijay Patkar.
The second half gets even more tedious when all the characters end up in the zoo in search of the loot with more nonsensical happenings involving poisoned animals which is supposed to be funny. The unknown actor in a gorilla suit and a face mask, probably last seen in the Ramsay films of the 80s, has been resurrected here, along with a bunch of CGI creatures. In fact, if not for the references to demonetisation and a PM who was denied an American visa, Total Dhamaal has a curiously dated feel.
Watch it if you are feeling nostalgic for those 80s Bollywood films that were so bad, they were good.