Dhaam Dhoom had the potential to be a truly, exciting Hitchcockian man-on-the-run thriller. Instead, you have a film that spends far too much time on the romantic angle and shifts the focus to project the lead man as an action hero who basically bashes his way out of most situations. A pity really since the film is otherwise technically polished, nicely photographed and is aided by a couple of great Harris Jayaraj songs. The film sadly lost its captain cinematographer–director Jeeva during its making. Still, his wife Anees persevered to see that the film was completed and released.
The weak screenplay is what brings down the film several notches. Had the plot followed Gowtham leaving a couple of weeks before his wedding to Shenba and stuck to his travails in Moscow and how he gets out of the jam he finds himself in, it would have been far tighter, more exciting and more focussed. The screenplay instead wastes precious time through lengthy flashbacks that Gowtham has while in jail showing how he met Shenba and his love story. Not only does this slow the film and bring the narrative to a grinding halt, the flashbacks are opened out and made neutral so that you get the ‘whole’ story. Barring the odd film like Bandini (1963), Indian cinema still doesn’t know how to treat flashbacks. Flashbacks are normally from a character’s perspective, in this case Gowtham, but we have several scenes of Shenba that he would not have been privy just so we get it all. Again this loosens the film. True, Gowtham would recall happier times with Shenba at a time like this but it could have been kept to a minimum, especially, as she really has no bearing on getting the main plot going in Moscow. And it’s not as if the romantic track is handled spectacularly well. In fact, it gives the film less time for character development and plot movement in Moscow. So Aarthi falling for Gowtham appears far too abrupt and out of the blue rather than being given the build up it needed as does Gowtham’s changeover when he decides to be more pro-active.
The other problem with the film is its main thriller plot. The plot and situations had great scope but ultimately the narrative flow fails to be innovative. It needed far better and more intricate plotting and more interesting twists and turns but sadly, Dhaam Dhoom is predictable fare and even the big revelation of the villain can be seen coming a mile away. What this also does is take away from the most interesting aspect of the man-on-the-run thriller that being an ordinary man caught in an extraordinary situation, he has to use his brains to get out of the jam he finds himself in. Dhaam Dhoom fails to go beyond the standard hero being chased and him fighting his way out of the situation before he decides to go after the baddies himself. This takes away from the vulnerability of the hero and consequently you do not care enough about his predicament in the film.
More fatally, the film also suffers from logical loopholes, the death knell for any thriller. For instance, the Russian cops know that Gowtham is on the run with Aarthi and though they seem to be all over the place, there are none keeping a watch at her house and they only turn up to search the place much later. Of course, the villain has enough time to take care of the hero and has him in his grip on several occasions but doesn’t do so but then there would be no twist in his revelation and yes, no film!
The performances go along with rather than lift the film. Jayam Ravi is sincere and efficient enough as the man on the run. Kangna Ranaut is photographed nicely but doesn’t look like a South Indian village belle from any stretch of imagination. And though this is her introduction to Tamil cinema, her role is incidental to the main plot. In fact, Lakshmi Rai has the more meaty role of the laywer who does most of the legwork in the film. She gives it her all and is adequate enough to appear the better woman of the two. Jayaram has little scope. The actress playing Anna, the murdered model is embarrassing particularly in her drunken scenes.
Techncially, the film is a polished product. Special mentioned must be made of the great cinematography. Moscow is beautifully photographed as are the outdoor songs. And Harris Jayaraj’s music is a huge asset as always. In particular, Anbe Enanbe and Yaaro Manithile are brilliantly composed. A couple of the action sequences in Russia coordinated by Chris Anderson have been nicely executed. The film needed tightening and a far more rapid pace but as mentioned, the loose screenplay hasn’t really helped the editor’s cause.
All in all, Dhaam Dhoom is watchable but nowhere the edge-of-the-seat, enjoyable thriller it should have been.