Specters of Dum Maaro Dum

[this piece deals with many of the spoilers in considerable detail and therefore those who haven’t seen the film shouldn’t touch it with a bargepole!]

At least on the evidence of Bluffmaster and the current film it is never a bad idea to begin at the end with a Rohan Sippy film. These very deceptive films recoil on themselves by way of their resolutions and in fact Dum Maaro Dum announces this ‘serpentine’ route at the very beginning. It is not however just the fact that the ‘ending’ in each instance gives what has preceded an entirely different twist but also that the subjective position implied in the narrative is also suddenly altered. In Bluffmaster Abhishek’s character is the narrative’s principal subject but also a kind of ‘author’ inasmuch he orchestrates many of the film’s scams. But by the time the film ends we realize that most of the film has actually been a vast ‘meta-scam’ authored by Priyanka’s character. The lead male here has all along been ‘acting’ in something scripted by the woman. At the same time this shift coincides with one that offers a different kind of commentary on the essence of the cinematic and the idea of film illusion. By introducing the not uncommonly used documentary device at the end the film as it were offers ‘meta-commentary’ on itself. Suddenly one is not in the world of the film and with the lead character but actually outside it and occupying Priyanka Chopra’s position though she is also in the film she scripts. But things gets complicated here. She is a bit like the director who acts in her own film but there is also clearly an initial portion in Bluffmaster that is not ‘controlled’ by her signature. This segment then connects with the end credits with the footage of the film’s shoot and so on. The actual ghost here is the director himself who even as he creates all these different modes of fiction (to which following the suggestion of certain theorists the documentary passage must also be added) shifting the subject position in each instance is ultimately really calling the shots (!) at every point. This is also the very meaning of the Hitchockian specter, the mysterious figure who wanders through all the director’s important works, who is and is not the director. Bluffmaster in any case is a superb tale of cinematic illusion but it is also one where the director writes himself into the text of the film in a very surreptitious way not only by ‘upsetting’ expectations of a stable narrative but also by de-stabilzing questions of subjectivity. And though this is not the right point to expand on all of this there are also additional specters in this world which range from a ‘city of silence’ (Bombay) which is the heir to a post-masala universe much as Abhishek himself as a somewhat ghostly operator in this world already seems to be at the ‘end’ of a Bachchan-inflected universe. The insight that Rohan Sippy rightly intuits is that Abhishek Bachchan can be ‘greatest’ by writing a supreme coda to his father’s career much as the director’s own cinema can most faithfully offer a museum of Bombay film memory by concealing it beneath an auteur’s signature. An even wider observation might be risked here which is that global cinema itself today, and for a time now, has in fact been a desperate auteurist struggle to wrestle with the ghosts of past tradition. These ghosts that can be wrestled with fruitfully but that cannot ultimately be laid to rest. For if graves signify that bodies rest within them they also equally indicate that ghosts always escape. Dum Maaro Dum makes tracking down some of these ghosts part of its cinematic project.

Here too one must begin at the end. Notice first of all how this film has more than one climax and in each instance the subject position is once again altered. But here Rohan Sippy goes one step further than Bluffmaster. It is not just about ‘who’ the actual subject of the film is but ‘what’ and the film really operates in the distance between the two and even by the very last frame the question is somewhat indecidable. One thing is for sure however. Specters are introduced in this film very early on. In the very first shot there is a man sprawled on the grass. He is never completely revealed as a body but one sees his hands and so on. Given that a more direct identification is not allowed to the viewer the possibility that this might not just be ‘any’ character is raised right away. The film then begins with a body and the rest of the narrative will quite clearly be the spectral narrative that will lead one back to the body. Of course towards the end there will be a bit of a ‘coda’ to follow this moment. In other words just as with Bluffmaster there is a segment of the film that cannot be included in the otherwise circular narrative, In the earlier film one goes back to the beggining as one learns that everything has been staged but of course there is something here prior to the ‘beginning’ that cannot be part of the the latter. Similarly in Dum Maaro Dum one returns to the body but this is not the end.

Once the film ‘actually’ begins the multiple narratives are introduced in quick succession. Again in fairly obvious ways some gaps are filled in as one proceeds from one narrative to the other and of course the subject position gets altered in rather literal ways. This sort of multiple story-telling with intersections at every point is not the most interesting feature of the film. In fact this too is of the nature of a deception because the film is never simply about such easy gestures. Abhishek’s character cuts across these narratives. As a ghostly presence he is implied throughout but he is also where some of the narratives come to an end. In more theoretical terms Vishnu Kamath’s figure and story slash across the otherwise ordered and complementary narratives. His presence disturbs the functioning of the filmic machine but and the ghosts then come marching in. Note how Kamath becomes the catalyst of this tale. Unlike Bluffmaster Kamath is never the film’s central subject in an obvious sense unless one has picked up the hint very early on with the ‘body’. But he enters the action in a very strange way. He is on the verge of suicide after he can no longer live with the tragedy of his life and at a point where the spectral images that remind him of happier times no longer suffice. In a near-revelatory moment he seems to get a signal from a ‘ghost’ and decides not to take his life. At the very next moment and in rather mysterious fashion a letter that will change his life is delivered to him. There is a mythological undercurrent to all of this. Kamath eventually becomes an Orpheus-like figure (and not only this) who has to get through the Goa underworld to somehow be united ‘spiritually’ with his deceased wife. Once again a woman at the heart of the narrative in a Rohan Sippy film. It is her cue that starts off the investigation and in a way the film. Without it there are just interesting stories. It is only when Kamath gets into the action that a film begins to take shape in the truest sense. This journey through the Goa ‘underworld’ with all its traps and deceptions and danger is what occupies the bulk of the film. The director sets it up splendidly. The first shorter half really offers an extended introduction while in the second longer half the action really begins. The mystery of the kingpin’s identity is always pre-figured in the narrative. There is a body at the beginning and one does not know ‘who’ it belongs to. Eventually the film becomes a quest for the ‘body’ behind a totemic name. A name that offers the entire ‘economy’ of the film’s many ‘signs’. The transcendental that makes possible the functioning of this world. Kamath in turn by trying to deconstruct this ‘name’ and kill this ‘god’ also brings about his own ‘end’ because he too is as dependent on this ‘name’ as anyone else in the film. In fact he has a more precisely symmetrical relationship with it. He has been saved from death because of this ‘name’. It might even be stated that Kamath is a kind of ‘undead’ figure in the film, already something of a ghost, merely on an extended lease in his body. Once more, the film begins with a very ‘material’ body but is throughout pre-occupied with the specter of Michael Barbossa, who in fact is never seen in the film, even by its stunning resolution. It is extraordinarily appropriate then that the quest ultimate leads to a series of graves with different names, all signifying the same, and the solution to the mystery ultimately revolves around not someone but a ‘thing’. This is the most dramatic of the film’s many shifts. It has always been about the ‘thing’ that is the common currency running across all the narratives of this world. It forms the economy of this world and ‘Michael Barbossa’ is simply the ‘name’ that gives ‘body’ to its spectral workings. One could even risk some Marxist spectrality here about commodities and money and so on!

One has perhaps not paid too much attention to the title to be surprised by the twists of the film. Such a ‘naive’ viewer is of course the film’s ideal one. Cinematic illusion is not simply a ‘fake’ that obscures ‘reality’ or that papers over the design of its fiction. Cinematic illusion is so successful precisely because it is a ‘piece’ of reality. Again deception in this fictional sense and otherwise is about adopting that subjective shift that casts a different light on reality in contrast to opposing the genuine ‘article’ to the fake one. The title of the film in any case is ‘Dum Maaro Dum’. This is not just the usual reliance on the title of a song nor is the ‘remix’ here (leaving aside its aesthetic merits or demerits) simply incidental to the film and similarly neither choice here betrays commercial cynicism. The title and the remix in fact get to the heart of the matter. Note how the title song is really the climactic one in the film. A very interesting detail here to begin things. The revelry that will finally uncover the secret actually takes place outside Goa or outside the film’s normal system of signification. There is in other words no way to deconstruct ‘Michael Barbossa’ entirely by remaining within Goa. The flash of insight also occurs to Kamath in the same vein. The song and the film hearken back to Dev Anand’s Hare Rama Hare Krishna, another quest narrative where a man is in search of his long-lost sister who has lost herself in the ‘hippie’ drug-induced world of East-West spirituality. When the final moment of recognition comes toward the end (and since the woman is the central engine of this film’s narrative it depends on her recognition not her brother’s) the woman cannot quite survive it. She can be re-united with her brother only in a spectral way. Rohan Sippy’s film then offers a sequel of sorts, a very interesting ‘redoing’ of the older film’s co-ordinates. Now it is the male-survivor of the trauma (sister, wife) who has to immerse himself into that ‘underworld’ one last time, uncover its secret workings, to finally smash it once and for all. It is now the male protagonist himself who is already half-dead as a survivor and who must soon be completely so to rejoin his spouse. Even as the current film deceives the viewer into thinking it is a ‘noir’ crime thriller it is really about the ‘deathly substance’ at the heart of its world (and Dev Anand’s film). Not in any mundane sense (‘it’s about drugs’!) but in the much more sophisticated fashion of using ‘drugs’ as an economic metaphor that runs through every node of that socio-political system. For Kamath then to uncover the secret of its working, to decipher how this master-sign functions is to destroy the entire fabric of this world. But Vishnu is not quite the ‘destroyer’. He must exit the stage and let someone else finish the job. And so the ‘remix’ of Dum Maaro Dum must occur at the very end, summarizing everything. This dark, orgiastic, hallucinatory moment in a ‘forest’ where the secret lies concealed.

And so one gets to the graves. A whole colonial history is evoked here, Goa being of course a privileged site for this. There are colonial ghosts therefore and to deconstruct these completely is also in a way to lose or at least distort massive aspects of the Indian post-colonial experience. This is why there are so many deaths in the film. Rana Daggubati’s character seems to complete the mission by the end and it all seems satisfactory except that this too is an illusion. What he really finishes is just one episode of a larger economy. But there are undoubtedly other names, other ghosts. The gangster (Lorsa Biscuita) has been ruined by the end but he still lives. The economy of that world can accommodate both him and Joki as they do not disturb its essential coordinates. Kamath does. The latter when he finally learns the secret finds it greatly amusing. He is even more amused when facing his end. This seems odd but of course he has finally realized the truth here. It was never one specter he was chasing down but a whole economy of ghosts. This moment of insight and lucidity (in a world of drug-induced sleep-walkers) is all that could be possibly granted to him. There is a brief but fascinating moment at the end of the ‘remix’ where Deepika Phadukone gives Kamath a rather strange look. Almost as if she is surprised to see him here. Almost as if she has seen a ghost. Someone who does not belong to the scene. Which indeed he does not. Kamath’s charisma can function in this system as long as the name ‘Michael Barbossa’ is kept intact. And if Kamath is yet another descendant of the ‘angry young man’ what might it mean to have such ‘charisma’ in a world no longer operating with that ultimate sign (one I have elsewhere and often called ‘Vijay’)?

Very much could be said about the extraordinary visual economy of the film from all its superb editing decisions (again the ‘metaphorical’ wife that interested one a great deal in BM, the bus sweeping across the scene, all this is far more in evidence here) to its play with sepia tones and its ‘color’ haze in certain significant moments (green and red seem rather important here.. the jungle moment relies on a hallucinnatory green to give it a somewhat otherworldly moment. Elsewhere there is a carnivalesque sequence soaked in red) but for the purposes of the themes laid out here what is most interesting is once again the ‘meta-fiction’ offered through these patterns, even sometimes in mock fashion (the scissor slicing the scene to reveal another one). In truth it would take multiple viewings to really account for this film’s complex visual grammar but it offers overall a series of visual tropes for the de-stabilization also thematized through the film’s narrative and characters and so forth. In other words the visuals are telling the very same story on their own. Here too it is a question of contrasting the material signs of the film (especially its edits) which are always somewhat conspicuous with its quieter and more ‘linear’ constructions. There is a bit of a cinematic ‘moral’ here for the auteurist ‘material’ signature can often be the equivalent of an empty shell signifying very little if not nothing. Which is to say the very stability that is called into question by way of the film’s visual acrobatics is spectrally rendered at the other end. The wager with Dum Maaro Dum however is that there is a double deconstruction in this sense. The ‘innovative’ camerawork is often subverted by the nonetheless linear accumulation of the plot but at the end of course this linearity itself becomes questionable because the subject position has been altered and more than once. To frame it in somewhat cultural terms the visual choices here as well as the multiple story-telling signifies the ‘auteurist’ for contemporary audiences but what they are deceived by here is that the film eventually belies their expectations of a ‘stable’ resolution.

At the very end the Rana Daggubati character almost represents a ‘last man’ of sorts surrounded by ghosts, especially that of Kamath. The job that he completes for the latter superbly unifies the film’s controlling metaphors, at least in the reading suggested here. Kamath is cremated along with the drugs. He cannot outlive the latter. Interestingly this is also a denouement where the central woman (Bipasha Basu) cannot survive much like Kamath though she is ‘key’ to solving the film’s mysteries in certain ways. What happens to women in Rohan Sippy’s films is very strongly linked to his exercises in cinematic deception.

With Bluffmaster and now Dum Maaro Dum Rohan Sippy has opened up one of the most interesting ‘commercial’ sites in contemporary Indian cinema. Abhishek Bachchan as his principal co-voyager on this yet unfolding journey also adds to the question of a post-Bachchan inheritance (where Rohan is a co-author as much as Rathnam is in different ways) and its own very complex (and complicated) economies. One can hardly wait for the next chapter.

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189 Responses to “Specters of Dum Maaro Dum”

  1. I haven’t finished checking this piece for typos (always so boring!). Will get to this a little later.

  2. I agree with this part. As usual, didn’t understand the rest.

    With Bluffmaster and now Dum Maaro Dum Rohan Sippy has opened up one of the most interested ‘commercial’ sites in contemporary Indian cinema. Abhishek Bachchan as his principal co-voyager on this yet unfolding journey also adds to the question of a post-Bachchan inheritance (where Rohan is a co-author as much as Rathnam is in different ways) and its own very complex (and complicated) economies. One can hardly wait for the next chapter.

    • On the ‘rest’ Ted it’s entirely my fault as a garbled writer. There would be something wrong with you if you understood everything! Thanks for the comment.

      • LOL…so humble of you Satyamji….it is us who are dumb (there is a nice hindi may muhavara for this)…you are so articulate and awesome….just a little long…like hindi movies…sometimes need editing BUT again that is because readers like me don’t have attention span longer than 20 seconds. Beech beech may hindi movie kee tarah ganey honey chahiyay. :-)
        Since there is “spoiler alert” I will not read the review for now…pata nahi movie dekhney kaa time milayga ya nahi).

        • It’s not about humility and certainly not anyone else being ‘dumb’. It’s only a question of what one is exposed to and/or one’s interest in something. When I ask my doctor questions I probably sound very dumb! The thing is that with the popular arts is that because everyone has equal access to the works a certain illusion is created of everyone ‘knowing’ the same. But this isn’t true. I am a life-long devotee of Kishore Kumar but I could hardly describe his songs in terms of the raags and so on. The same for other film music. My approach is then limited to purely impressionistic. Which is not invalid. Because many people come up with brilliant insights just being ‘impressionistic’. Some of my favorite critics in the West whether in cinema or literature are not really ‘doing theory’. However if one does want to do the latter a certain ‘training’ is required (formally or informally). The rest depends on one’s own temperament and interests and so on. But this is so for many things in life. People do things with computers that constantly dazzle me. Some people marry just once. So on and so forth. Very many things that inspire wonder when one is on the other side.

          The only thing I have ever been in awe of incidentally is the Hindi film doctor from yesteryear films who could look at the pulse and diagnose everything from a pregnancy to cancer. This fine art is dying down in India. The other great art or perhaps science is still alive which is the math behind most of the box office assessments. Today this is the new frontier in math. A Nobel winner will emerge from these ranks someday.

          • We are not trained but we know you are very good! Like you listen to Kishoreda’s music or A.R. Rahman’s “chal-chaiyya-chaiyya” and you love it. You may not know it, but there is raga behind it and all that science…as audience, non-technical one…we enjoy the raga without knowing what that is.

            ” Some people marry just once”

            BTW…how many times did you go for it? ;-)

            Just gossipy old woman here :-)

          • How brilliantly,yet humbly you summed up… I love ur pieces, especially comments which r more insightful.
            THANKS :)

        • Dimps. Go and watch it. Enough of excuses

          • yeh weekend mai jaaney ko sooch rahi hun…shayad akaley hi dekh lungi.
            Phir satyam ji kay review ko padhungi….writing in code language so satyam cannot understand…LOL

          • :lol: now u r funny too. If satyam doesnt understand hindi how did he watch movie and write this review.

  3. yet to see the movie :(

    • what are you waiting for Rooney?!

      • For it to come in DVD….we are cheap….hahahahah….also seems like movie is very dense…so will need the rewind button a lot (for me). :-)

        • It would be a shame to not watch this on the big screen with all the visual pleasures it offers. The film incidentally is not ‘dense’ at all. In fact it is a very ‘easy’ watch.

        • Omg! Here u have yet not watched. I already did two times and planning for one more watch with friends. Whoever watched it liked a lot. Contempory cinema at best. To miss on big screen is crime as it is visual delight and for fantastic sound effects

          • OK..OK…just hate going alone (with rest of the non-adult family) or will have to find babysitter which means more money…and then the samosa. 20 for two tickets; 25 for baby sitter and at least 5 bucks for samosa..at the very minimum…hmmm…last time I spent a lot of money and saw a gory RGV movie on big screen and swore that I won’t go to outside theater ever again!!
            BTW I have a home theater at home…as long as dvd is original it should be like going to theatre without annoying desis and bacchas crying in audience (in all hindi movies invariably there are babies…I even baby sat and held some stranger’s baby last time much to his mom’s relief while she was explaining me her problems with baby sitter for movie nite etc)

      • well to be frank to busy schedule :( just havent got time on the radar.. as i have started the career big time… so my sundays and saturdaays go in research etc.. and preapring my arguements.. to much pressure..

        btw u might be happy to know i havnt lost a case :) and got 4 big orders in my favour! 2 criminal cases, one quasi criminal and one civil :) and already appeared in bombay hc !! and doing great guns in gujarat hc !!

        so thus to hectic schedule, i have court vacation from 14th may than i would surely catch it.

    • U r discouraging one of the best director in some way by giving this a miss. This is the best of the year sofar.

      • LOL…U R too funny rentz….

        • That was my point which u made in some other comment of urs. If u want to wish ur fav directors luck, this has to be done by watching their movies.
          I am sure after dmd, he will also be somewhere in ur fav list.
          Though, i m afraid whether i m raising ur expectation to sky high. :P

  4. Thank you for this wonderful article. Very unfortunate that in the film industry there is not people also simply intelligent, erudite as you.

  5. Waiting for courage and right frame of mind to go through this.

  6. “SPOILERS!!!!

    The thing with the ghosts (“habshee” — presumably has a racist origin) is that their return signifies absence; the appearance of the specter simply underscores that the real person will not appear — their presence, in short, only means absence. Nor will the real person completely disappear, although they might be forgotten (the graves are all those of long-forgotten men). In fact in the movie, for the most part those who forget can live (Biscuita; the professional “forgetter” the politician; even Lorry’s record is wiped clean) (Joki seems to be the only exception, but I’d have to ponder this a bit more).

    Just watched it a few hours ago. Thought it was fantastic. Will post a review soon.”

  7. A piece worthy of the film. What is there to say? One of your densest pieces…

  8. hey Satyam, you have really outdone yourself this time!! You know how one has to watch some movies 2-3 times ti reay get the finer nuances of the medium, it’s the same with your thought provoking analysis… I had to go thru it 3 times for it to really sink in… and once it did It was a huge revalation…. Truly an A-Ha moment!

    Agree with one of the commenters above… you really need to be a full time professional film critic!!

    Awesome piece… Always look forward to your analysis.


    • thanks extremely Mahesh.. ideally I would have written this piece after a second viewing but I didn’t want to wait much longer. Similarly did want to flesh out some points further but thought it would get too overtly theoretical, something which I try to avoid to the extent possible even if this film lends itself very easily to the theme I’ve selected.

  9. Amit kumar pandey Says:

    I haven’t got the chance yet to see the movie :(

    hope i go this weekend!!!

  10. I should again highlight here the extent to which Rohan Sippy’s visual project is impressively part of his overall philosophical (let’s risk this word here) one. I’ve said this in the piece as well but to extend the point (there are many such extensions I would have liked to make in the piece, perhaps I will keep tormenting people with these every day!) and in a global sense cinema over the last three decades or so has principally been at its best one of the following possibilities:

    1)A fleshing out of a canonical ‘auteurist’ signature by transposing it to different contexts. So for example Antonioni in many East Asian cinemas (Tsai Ming-Liang etc..).

    2)The attempt to produce the great ‘classical’ work (which here simply means one that presupposes a transcendence that cinema has in fact lost. One could offer Kieslowski and Tarr as two examples here.. Eastern European cinema perhaps, and not coincidentally, has a special role to play here)

    3)The focus on pure ‘effect’ accompanied by a ‘forgetting’ of everything else. In other words a kind of ‘defeated’ stance where one no longer thinks of cinema as ‘world-creating’ and instead uses the technological resources of the medium to convert it into an extraordinary set of stimuli. Even when aesthetically defined in the best possible sense the ultimate aim of these audio-visual choices is no more than titillation. All SFX advancements belong to this category. But equally all ‘serious’ cinema that can do not more than offer empty narrative shells supported by seductive visuals and so on. And when I say empty here I do not opposed something like the novelistic script to the visuals or the sound cues or whatever. It is not that one should start reading these latter for a different sort of narrative. It is the very principle of ‘narrativity’ that comes into question. Barring this one is left with pure effect.

    Let’s take a simple example here and one which makes the point in a rather obvious way — David Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter. A film (a superb DVD here, one of the best I’ve seen) which offers some enormous shots which cannot only be equated with the usual ‘scenic’ sense of things though Lean is certainly always minimally guilty of this. Here the images can be ‘accepted’ or appreciated as pure images. Eventually one realizes that these are accompanied by a rather mediocre plot and so forth. This doesn’t prevent one from nonetheless getting sucked into the beauty of the images but that’s all there is to it because there is no ‘thought’ behind it (in the more rigorous sense of the word). Of course Lean pretends that late in the game that so much innovation in cinema never happened but this too is fairly typical of Lean. The effort to capture the ever more magnificent ‘natural’ image to make up for his own lack of experimentation in any other sense.

    Let’s now move on to a more challenging example. That of Michael Mann’s Collateral. here many of the director’s strengths are on display here from the mood to the visual hues and so on. Except that there isn’t quite the thought behind the narrative to sustain the otherwise interesting visual texture of the work. However if one jumped to something like Public Enemies this criticism would easily disappear.

    Finally a by now classic example –Antonioni himself. Much has been written about the color coding of Red Desert and how it indicates a certain inner reality. This element of the film and by extension the entire visual grammar deployed here is supposed to work in an associative sense rather than in any obvious narrative way. But note how the film even otherwise in very much in sync with this ‘plan’. In fact Antonioni’s grammar keeps adjusting to keep up with his overall philosophical projects. Not just the visuals or the sound cues (silence keeps increasing in his work.. by the time one gets to the Passenger one has the open spaces of the desert on the one hand but also his most ‘silent’ film.. given the kind of reflection this work offers on identity among other things this is quite marvelous.. as is the emergence of Barcelona later on in the film because Gaudi suggests a kind of ‘liquidity in solids’.. then there is the justly legendary long take near the end where everything is taken apart and reconstructed before our eyes, the illusion occurs, the subjective position shifts, the literal subject undergoes a change from living to dead) but even as a matter of plain narrative.

    Now there have of course been radical experiments in cinema since. One thinks of Derek Jarman’s Blue or Kiarostami’s Five. The examples are too many to mention. But whether there can be a thought of the image entirely divorced from questions of narrativity is something that many of these experiments put into deeper question rather than answering. It is like the Beckett moment in the novel where if you push it further than him you might not be left with a novel at all!

    But there has remained this temptation specially with cinematic technology offering every greater and more ‘virtual’ resources. A lot of cinematic materialism in this sense underlies a rather prosaic reality. What has happened since Godard is that some have tried to out-Godard Godard while others have borrowed the ‘cues’ without the same theoretical underpinnings. Either way the project has been left incomplete. Note how Godard in his own Histoire(s) produces a Wake of a film to deal with this impasse. But also further how he considers Kiarostami’s taste of Cherry to signify a kind of ‘end of cinema’. The seductions of the present with all their ‘sensory overdrive’ are leading us to a site other than ‘cinema’. These effects cannot certainly be underrated but one also cannot make the mistake of thinking that just a simple new frontier is being crossed here. Much as poetry can be made prosaic upto a point.

    All of this is a more ‘formal’ objection on my part. In a more naive sense one could say that just the evidence of an ‘element’ of art does not render the whole project artistic or revolutionary. And this is not something that can only be said about cinema. One comes across many novels where one can pick out very well done sections and these even stay in one’s mind. But these are not the entire work. But the problem is particularly acute in cinema because sensory ‘over-determination’ can substitute for the sense of a world. This is a rather dangerous move though and somewhat fascistic in some ways (I made this point when Avatar was about to release). To put it differently if cinema is about the creation of a world (at its best) and one which is not just an ‘image’ of another one or a ‘copy’ of any kind contemporary technology with all its virtuality enables for the first time the blocking off or closing off of any notion of such a world (in this sense too the cinematic is the emblematic art form of the age because one could easily see in other contexts how the mad dance of images and sound we all live through makes any stable sense of a ‘world’ a thing of the past.. note in this context how so much of science fiction is actually quite obsessed with defining newer worlds using the rules of the older one(s) by employing all the latest technologies and so on).

    For the purposes of the DMD discussion it is this third point that is crucial which is why I have expanded on it here. Analogies with other art forms could be offered. Think of those great columns that sometimes survive from ancient ruins. We admire them on their own and yet these are parts of the whole which we can never stop reconstructing ‘virtually’. This makes my point precisely. Those columns are signs of a greater world, of a larger architectural project. On their own they certainly stimulate the senses but reflection is only provoked inasmuch as one does the job of ‘reconstructing’ the contexts (buildings) in one’s mind. Similarly if these great columns were somehow housed in otherwise terribly inadequate structures the gap would come through in a profound sense. So the ‘stimuli’ bit of art can only go so far without giving itself to thought. Which ‘thought’ incidentally is unique to each art form. It is not about philosophy or theory necessarily. And in this sense one should lastly think about so many modes of popular music. So many tunes one hums or gets addicted to even when one knows how mediocre the stuff is. This is the sensory stimulus working. we like it despite ourselves. This does not mean however that some great artistic achievement has taken place. Similarly I am completely seduced by the wizardry that goes into the making of Avatar. Just that fact however does not open up a new frontier in the medium. And again cinema perhaps becomes something ‘other’ but we must then account for this at all points.

    • By the way a film worth revisiting in light of DMD is but of Hare Rama Hare Krishna. This is visually one of the more interesting films of the period. Blues and to an extent yellows are privileged colors here but these are probably just too brightly rendered for the film’s other mournful themes. Nonetheless this is an element of the film that comes out well on DVD even if it also illustrates the longer point I have just made. Dev Anand’s late cinema (before it got ridiculous in the 80s) often illustrated a great problem with traditional narrative and Hare Rama Hare Krishna is just about passable on this score. But what I really like here is the fact that Dev Anand even as he seemingly presents the kitschy image of 60/70s drug-induced hippie stupor also holds an earlier generation responsible for it. In other words rather than make the usual claims whereby the anarchy and hedonism of the 60s would simply emerge in a vacuum he connects this dynamic to an older one of bourgeois hypocrisy and claustrophobia. And again he takes the logic through to the end. Zeenat Aman’s character simply cannot be (re)normalized into the bourgeois framework even when she has been reunited with her entire family. So there is a vein of sympathy that runs for the ‘hippies’ here which is unusual for that period.

      • should add here that at least in a Western sense ‘blue’ has always been (as Markus Gabriel puts it) the “color of transcendence”. In this sense Dev Anand’s film (whether he intended to or not) gives the film the mood that the drug-induced hippies aspire to! But then of course he also has those yellows and all those sunlit relatively open spaces of Kathmandu. Meanwhile the hippies are often in a trance in interior spaces. Here the opposite reading suggests itself. So the world is a nice, sunny place but somehow people want to dope themselves in twilit rooms!

  11. Amit kumar pandey Says:

    so sorry satyam, I am restraining very hard not to read your post..

    want to enjoy the read once i got to see dmd…

  12. One is set in snowy mountains with memorable music. The other located in sunny beaches of Goa. Both tourist spots where lots of things go on in the name of entertainment and relaxation. The hippies were never an organised lot and thats why it was easy to break them. But they reappeared with a harder approach and thus have become stronger. There are no Vishnu Kamats in the real world and the department itself is deep in making the most. Goa has a mix of saraswat brahmins to which Kamat belongs and hard core catholics who even now long for that portuguese times. Fish, feni and music are their reasons for living while they have banished drugs to the shacks where a mix of continents and races live in their own worlds undisturbed because the establishment is with them in its various avatars.In Goa, there is a patron saint as a remedy for every malady.
    It is not about police hunting the narcotics. It is about narcotics chasing the police out. The winner is the villain for the time being.

  13. I’m not touching this with a bargepole even if I feel tempted to wade in a bit…I’m gonna try and catch it on Sunday – let me know you if you make it into the city in the near future!

  14. @satyam
    >yesteryear films who could look at the pulse and diagnose everything from a pregnancy to cancer.

    LOL!!…..We may laugh, but I know for a fact that pregnancy was very much correctly diagnosed this way in rural India, perhaps even now.
    I could give you a couple of links to support this, but don’t think people are interested, and I wouldn’t want to clutter up the thread.
    These things are getting lost, and people don’t believe such things were possible.

    • BTW, haven’t read your piece yet. I’m hoping to see the film without spoilers, whenever I can.

    • Even DC has referred this extensively in his book, ” Ageless body Timeless mind”

    • Didn’t know this.. quite interesting.. in any case I did find that sort of thing very charming in those films.

    • LOL, some people will believe anything. There is nothing unique about the pulse in pregnancy. It is what is called a ‘hyperdynamic’ pulse with a rather exaggerated difference in systolic ( upper) and diastolic ( lower) blood presures. It can be caused by atleast twelve other conditions!

      • alex adams Says:

        “There is nothing unique about the pulse in pregnancy. It is what is called a ‘hyperdynamic’ pulse”–a useful sidenote about the etiopathogenesis of hyperdynamic pulse (in a film blog) lol.
        This “hyperdynamic” pulse occur in umpteen conditions and also undoubtedly in pregancy.
        BUt it really manifests itself only towards the second trimester by which stage it is not rocket science to “diagnose” it by pulse, since there are much more visible signs…lol
        Having said that, there are enuf ill-understood mentions in acupuncture, ancient indian and also chinese daiki (think thats what its called in chinese) about ways of diagnosing things much more complicated than just pregnancy without resorting to blood tests/scans.
        The problem with contemporary “scientific” allopathic medicine is that there is too much of “looking down upon” all other “alternative” forms of ancient and contemporary medicine.
        As a result, there is no attempt of “reaching out” and “filling in the gaps” of understanding.
        There is no evidence that all of these “alternative” or ancient forms just consisted of quackery or hoodoo or witch craft.
        The result is that the “idiopathic” column in allopathy is continuing to expand rather than shrink………….

  15. tonymontana Says:

    Thanks for the passionate piece, Satyam.

  16. Satyam,
    Eagerly awaited your views and it looks like a fascinating read. Unfortunately, cannot read it as havent seen the film yet!

  17. Someone else said in this post – ‘Will post a review soon.”
    I will believe it when it happens!

  18. Phew. Satyam are you a film student/ filmmaker, by any chance?

    • I am not a student in the formal sense you mean but hopefully I have not stopped being one otherwise.

      Not a filmmaker for the simple reason that I could never aspire to Manmohan Desai’s heights and Ray or Fellini or whoever are not challenging enough as models.

      • @satyam- btw nope i dont know if girlfrombombay’s a lawyer!! but in absence of sm.. and after trying qalander she would be my next choice if i have to choose any to defend me :) but i like her way of putting across things! she seems smart!

    • lol girlfbombay!!! dont u think if he was filmmaker by now he would have done a film with abhisekh :) and amitabh :)

      ps- kidding!! but yup his knowledge, wisdom is amzing.. i still remember days when i had to refer dictionary to get his vocab! well now i have improved i google them!

      • Rooney- Hahaha thanks, but I’m as far away from a lawyer as possible. Satyam’s knowledge of cinema is indeed amazing. I haven’t read the piece completely, but its incredible that he’s formed such a detailed analysis from just one viewing of the film.

        Satyam- Considering that we live in a time where Farhan Akhtar is considered an ‘intelligent/ experimental’ filmmaker and David Dhawan is one of the most successful directors, I’m sure your contributions to contemporary Hindi cinema would be very valuable. Especially since your such a masala enthusiast and there is a resurrection of the genre happening right now. :-)

        And BTW, Farah Khan is the self proclaimed ‘New-age Desai’, so it is her heights you will have to aspire to reach, not Manmohan’s :-P

        • “And BTW, Farah Khan is the self proclaimed ‘New-age Desai’, so it is her heights you will have to aspire to reach, not Manmohan’s”

          I’d rather submit to water-boarding.

        • kya baat hai…satyam fan club chalu kartey hai…you should see his following on bigadda. I think he should produce, direct and ACT in a movie and we all can then judge :-)
          I think he might be a PHd student in Texas or he could be older gentleman (reading the level of maturity) still doing his Phd :-)

        • GFB, did you see THIS “http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-glamour-guests-arrive-at-royal-wedding/20110429.htm”

          yikes…double yikes…the english and their outregeous hats…yak..yak

          • Add 3 yaks from my side also..
            All media, be it cnn or bbc were going crazy abt balcony kiss… that was just hilaroius n indian media too joined decoding the kisses n dresses…and they blame orientals

          • Hahaha Dimps, did you see the related articles?

            Astrology: How Wills and Kate match up!

            Kate’s sheer dress attarcted Wills! And you?

            Kate to wear Indian Bridal outfit?

            Oh god.

            And thess are the Indian Bridal outfits ‘leading’ Indian designers have recommended for Kate from their collections: http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-glamour-leading-indian-designers-create-bridals-for-kate/20110428.htm :-D http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-glamour-leading-indian-designers-create-bridals-for-kate/20110428.htm

          • LOL at the wedding gowns.
            I’m glad she wore what she did.

          • Didn’t watch ANY part of royal wedding (except at work the CNN was on when I was getting my free breakfast in the morning) or clicked anything regarding royal wedding on rediff. Beckhan tha…so clicked and the hats totally made that click worth it!!! Did you see the fergie’s daughters hideous hats?! IAT: I totally agree “and they blame orientals” bit. At least we don’t hide behind some fake “class act”…hahaha. I think the indian designers were just trying to make some *news* ….didn’t waste their time designing anything….just getting some shady coverage…RamGopalVerma had commented upon attending Abhi’s wedding that north indian weddings indeed are like kjo movies…LOL. Personally I like it sombre-serious affair in Arya samaj style. But fun reception and hangama outside of rituals. The weddings in NRI circles are SO cliched. They have a dance segment(s), a drama segment and lot of show offs…if you go to one then you have gone to all of them…same dance-drama routine.

          • Alex adams Says:

            Dimps lol kates dress has been THE news here in the Uk and has dominated all discussion ESP for the female species as expected.
            Innocent bystanders like myself have to just admire the way Kate carried herself with dignity and charm.
            Think this couple have a pull for the young who are obviously otherwise alienated from the royals.
            Good that she chose a british designer(Sarah burton) when she could have had any!!
            Personally felt that she has slimmed down a bit too much.
            Didn’t like Williams tunic but the open Aston Martin in the end was a nice departure
            Also the two kisses instead ofthe customary one has gone down quite well ESP with the female crowd!!! Lol
            All the best to the couple….

          • OOOO…so aap UK mai hai and clued into all this nonsense…I feel sorry for the royals but sometimes I feel they are privileged lot without doing anything, similar to our abhishek bacchan…just do lot of public “duties” all year long, showing up here and there for ribbon cutting and what not and tax payers pay lot of your bills.
            Charles married out of caste…ya…he a brahmin married a non-brahmin…which is a first…kate is a commoner!!!
            And there is divorcee in the family (Camila) who Diana hated…she got to witness everything about Diana’s son, wedding and all. Kinda sad.
            The filmmaker who made king’s speech, thought that who would be interested in his little speech about a stammering king [but made it because filmmaker himself had stammering problem] and the movie became hit, which he didn’t expect…he said that anything on royals in always interesting to general public.
            I was in England last year and like how they have marketed everything for tourism (India has same kind of squares and royalty but ZERO in marketing it)…the change of guard ceremony (fool the people…it is only to attract the tourism and get your money)…blah..blah..CLEVER MARKETING DUH…get tons of tourism money. Desis should learn from them. I was also very scared of all those buquah ladies with only eyes-seen-from- holes kind of burquah which I haven’t seen in India even…VERY SCARY. good for the angrez…serves them right…….I hate the English! They have the worse caste system in the world and more (for years I didn’t even go to England but finally bit the bullet for sake of Shakespear and all other authors that I LOVE like Emily Brontee)….but it is marketed so well that people talk about Indian caste system which is nothing compared to their narrow mindedness in everything. I am quite politically incorrect naa. So now that I know you are English…………

          • LOL ! Well, since we are confessing here about likes and dislikes, I confess I hate the US. I consider them the modern colonialists, out to destroy cultures.
            British, I couldn’t hate, because of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, pretty villages, and culturally quite a rich heritage. I’ve toured UK several times, but have never gone to (as you say) the tourist trap of the changing of the guards. Believe me, there’s a lot more for tourists to do there than that. Now, USA I never want to visit (after my one to NYC to see a friend from India visiting family). There’s nothing of interest there for me (which is…history).

            So now we’ve both been politically incorrect. ;-)

  19. Satyam your first para is entirely on BM and to get right perspective one requires to click netflix. Now to get ‘body’ part of DMD it requires to run back to theater for 2nd viewing as missed that due to 7 minute late entry into cinema hall. Damn that ‘body’ emphasis!
    Now, I think there is a hole or perhaps u are reading too much betn lines when u offer the observation- “The insight that Rohan Sippy rightly intuits is that Abhishek Bachchan can be ‘greatest’ by writing a supreme coda to his father’s career much as the director’s own cinema can most faithfully offer a museum of Bombay film memory by concealing it beneath an auteur’s signature”. Obviously this is based on Abhi’s character as Vishnu Kamath but let’s not forget that he was offered Rana’s roll and it was Abhi insisted and succeeded in getting inspector’s roll.
    Haven’t competed this Monmouth article yet but this just pops up and so punched in.

    • You shouldn’t have missed the beginning. that was crucial.

      getting to Rohan Sippy he has an immediate relation with Bachchan’s work not only because he is interested in the oeuvre as so many have been but also because of his father’s work. His own favorite I am led to believe is Shaan in some ways (I must admit it is the Ramesh Sippy film I like most myself.. yes even more than Sholay which weirdly has never been a personal favorite of mine) and he has long had the idea of remaking it with Abhishek.

      Rohan Sippy wanted Dutt and Abhishek in the original BM with Abhishek doing Ritesh’s role. In BM again he wanted him for the Daggubati part. here’s the thing though. These scripts change quite a bit depending on what actor plays which role. But also I would say that even if Abhishek had done those other roles in both films the site of signature would simply have switched over. So for example you can be ‘Vijay’ but you can also be ‘Anthony’. In other words once Abhishek becomes Kamath a certain Bachchan signature is introduced. Had he played the other character the signature would have shifted.

      It is not that Rohan Sippy starts out with the explicit idea of making a Bachchanesque work. I have never quite intended this sort of simplistic idea even with Rathnam. It is a question of operating in a space which is ‘charged’ by Bachchan’s history and by then using his ‘son’ to reconfigure it in some ways. The physicality is important here. Abhishek is close enough to his father in all the essentials without suggesting a ‘duplicate’. But also he is an actor often quite different in his mode though he can ‘play’ Bachchan when he wants to (which is not often).

      The weak misreading people often have of this point of mine is (and I’m not suggesting yourself but some others who cannot or will not read) that I am somehow invested in the genealogical here and that’s all the inheritance is about. Not at all. The genealogical is here fascinating precisely because it feeds into the larger question of the inheritance of the signature, not the other way around. To frame it even more radically the genealogical here is an ‘accident’. In other words there could be another star more Bachchanesque than Abhishek without looking like Bachchan in any direct ‘familial’ sense. At a cultural level however the genealogical cannot be ignored. We cannot for example ‘forget’ that Indira Gandhi is Nehru’s daughter and in fact this genealogical angle contributes to her own ‘myth’ because of course this category (genealogical) is very important to the larger template of Indian culture and belief. So in this sense I am definitely interested in Abhishek. It is important not to confuse the two however even if the border lines might not be very precise.

      But the ‘signature’ is about a body of work. Note here how often I split Bachchan even from himself. In other words the biographical continuity of his name is not at all the same as the continuity of his signature, for which I have often used the shorthand ‘Vijay’. And so when I talk about Abhishek I see him presenting a body of work, at least so far, that more often than not operates in the space opened up by his father. And in a serious sense (this is important because there are many superficial Bachchan clones.. so for example every time Sunny Deol beat up someone in the 80s he owed something to Bachchan as of course his own father did to the Bachchan era as well, i.e. the later Dharmendra had to convert to survive in the world of the angry young man.. but just because Deol or whoever did this does not mean that there was an authentic ‘reading’ of the Bachchan signature.. Dutt however had this in Naam, a film which interestingly rewrites Deewar.. perhaps one might even look at the later and far less interesting Vaastav).

      Finally my point isn’t just that this is my chosen reading. It is the directors themselves who are all too conscious of this. In fact I’d say it would be quite impossible not to think of Amitabh Bachchan, specially in certain contexts, when one is working with Abhishek Bachchan. But the best directors don’t just present characters with Abhishek that remind one of the father’s legacy. They also re-interpret what the politics of the angry young man might mean in today’s world. So for example the Yuva character is a possibility in the angry young man’s history and is as much a ‘reading’ of it in a later age as is Bachchan’s own Deewar re-write in Agneepath.

      And so when people have the usual banal charge that Abhishek’s there because of his father they are right but for the wrong reason. Or rather they cannot afford to be right for the right reason! So one thinks Bachchan is making phone calls or investing money or whatever with respect to Abhishek’s films (the usual idiotic shenanigans). This is the vulgar way of looking at things which is to say one hasn’t understood anything. The real deal here is that people want precisely ‘Bachchan’s genealogical son’ but to be this successfully the ‘son’ also has to be a worthy inheritor by way of his work. Which is why all doors didn’t open for Abhishek after Refugee but after Yuva. If it were just about being the literal son he wouldn’t have had to wait till YUva. So the son has to be a credible successor on his own to then become a proper genealogical successor. So it is exactly the opposite. Much as you have the common saying of someone ‘being his father’s son’. This only happens when the son does something on his own that is ‘like’ the father.

      And this is what in another way explains the gap between Abhishek projects and his box office problems. This gap is filled in precisely by what I have just suggested.

      • Thanks for not charging for misreading otherwise will be looking for a lawyer too!
        Anyway let me start with one erroneous wide spread observation which is to say and believe that AB and Abhi have similar physicality. I would consider that very naive, superficial and erroneous observation. Except height there is nothing (not a thing) similar-be it eyes, eyebrows, skin tone, upper body, legs, hair, walking & running style, dance style, voice and so on and on. AB never ever had or have weight issue or look problem. U rightly pointed out acting style difference.
        Now it is impossible for anyone to ignore AB’s work consciously or unconsciously due to richness and vastness but it would be unfair and injustice to suggest continuity or re-interpretation of angry young man in today’s context. I would attribute little more intelligent to today’s directors-specially Mani, Rohan and Abhi. I think it is precisely we as a viewer perceive and choose to read more in betn lines where as directors (Rohan & Mani) and actor like Abhi poring their energy to create their own according to their capacity.

        • Pradip, thanks for that response but as you know I disagree with most of what you’ve said. But I’ve gone into a lot of this at great length before. I’d agree with this one point though, that he is not his father. But one must take this further — who could possibly be equal to his father?! I will however leave everyone witth a simple thought experiment — consider both Sarkar films, consider the Kajra re from BnB, consider Rock ‘n roll soniye from KANK, consider Paa… hasn’t Abhishek actually done spectacularly well precisely when he has been most obviously ‘opposed’ to his father on screen? And haven’t some of these become his most iconic moments?

          But I’d also disagree on the point of ‘charisma’. I find many of his performances charismatic including most recently DMD. The thing though is that he doesn’t play the larger than life star often enough. When he does he brings it to the fore. This is why everyone loves him in DMD or something like Dostana. But yes he might be too ‘sincere’ an actor to turn it on when the role doesn’t require it. Again this doesn’t mean he can be compared with his father. Mortals cannot be compared with Gods! But I do see Abhishek as gifted in precise ways to add to that space ‘Amitabh Bachchan’ first opened up. It’s like one can learn from Shakespeare and become Milton or if not him then Shelley or someone important but lesser than Milton. A great name in one’s own right without by any means duplicating the ‘event’ of Shakespeare. But this is always a ‘wager’ which depends on lots of factors. One can never know for ‘certain’. But Abhishek for me has certainly opened up a very interesting possibility and despite the box office ‘trouble’ he’s had has impressed me a lot with his craft (and evidently some of the best talents of Bombay as well).

          • Pradip, the other point I’d make is that a certain kind of assertiveness on screen is I think most commonly associated with ‘charisma’. This is not something I agree with. Even with Abhishek people often appreciate those performances most where they can see some of this assertiveness. This is true even with his father where the later more assertive 80s stuff is often liked more than the 70s work and is at the very least read into it. This is why for example Agneepath is such a cult favorite, certainly with younger male audiences. In this sense I think the great performance that one associates with the name ‘Amitabh Bachchan’ is reduced to a series of gestures and so on. Now Amitji’s gesturality is of course extraordinary and this cannot by any means be underestimated but my own sense is that consciously or not people often privilege this when talk about his ‘performance’. Of course with an event like ‘Amitabh Bachchan’ there are various entry points into the oeuvre but the one that should not be missed among others is his incredible subtlety as an actor, his way with silences and so on. But we live in an age of the ‘obvious’. where the Amitabh Bachchan of Coolie is the privileged model. and the Amitabh Bachchan of Saudagar doesn’t have a chance! Abhishek’s ‘fault’ might be that he is even after so many years in the industry often too sincere and simply does Saudagar when with some greater cynicism he would play Saudagar like Coolie! But we have lost this sensibility in cinema as a general matter. The virtue of little moments.

      • I love to read your views even if I dont agree all the time. Your musings is a psychological analysis, a sort of freudian thing.
        The father and son duo(Bachchans) both are value inheritors. Bachchan inherited the ideological streak from his poet father and he is always in awe of him. But that did not make him become a poet when his career was taking place. He chose acting and bollywood which is somewhat incongruous with his inheritance. What made him to go for acting ? That he never explained . His love for his father’s literary achievements surfaced only after he became highly successful and when his filmy career settled at a certain point.
        In Abhishek’s case, he automatically took his father’s career as films were offered on a platter by biggies like J.P.Dutta. And most of us try to get something of Bachchan through the son.
        But this Bachchan is also as different from his father though the profession is the same. His father is a gifted and natural actor irrespective of director’s contribution while the son has his own style but not charismatic enough to outshine ore even reach to his father’s level. Charisma is the thing that he lacks which is the hallmark of high success in bollywood or hollywood.
        Can Abhishek develop charisma at this stage? If Abhishek has no shadow of his father to overshadow him, he would have got more applause and approval. That is if Amitabh Bachchan has been a sales excutive or a vice president of a company.
        Fortunately, now, the audience is trying to see Abhishek as Abhishek and that will make them see him in a new light.

        • vatikala Says:

          It should have been musings are.
          And or not ore.

        • Quite logically and nicely put Vatikala.

        • Vatika…LOVE your comments. I agree on everything you said about Satyamda and Bacchans…PERFECT pieve of writing (nothing went above my head).
          Second generation actors are USUALLY a failure. There is one Michael Douglas here and there who even outshines his father but mostly they are failures. Then there are awesome people like Nic Cage who go to great length to even CHANGE their last name to carve their own niche and not have shadow of that famous last name hauting them for rest of their lives!!!!! Bigb had-has passion/love for acting…enuf to become that starving extra in movie…junior is just riding the surf from waves created by dad and wants all the accolades/recognistion/fame/money but not putting effort and in India there is “chalta hai” attitude…jugad kar legay…so in due course Junior too will become mega star (of course after bigb leaves)….though i wish he had chosen some other profession. As they say in gujarati “deeva neechay andharu” (There is always darkness underneath a lamp) meaning you cannot outshine a lamp. So mahatma Gandhi’s children will NEVER be mahatma. Janta should not have that expectation even. And Gandhi’s kids should never try to be in politics (unless it is fake ones like indira gandhi) because it would be a worst mistake EVER. Bigb was smart enuf to not enter poet world. Junior wasn’t. But he should keep on trying…no harm in tryying…even if some of it is sponsored by Paa. DMD might change his future…lets see.

          • vatikala Says:

            I am overwhelmed by your enthusiasm and straightforwardness, Dimps. I loved that gujarati saying. It explains so many things. Pradip also put forward certain relevant points. I appreciate Satyam for allowing different perspectives to flourish on his blog. This is how an intelligent blog is nourished.

        • thanks for the comment Vatikala.. I responded to Pradeep on Bachchan’s blog and reposted that response here.. I think it covers much of what I would have said in response to you as well.

      • abzee2kin Says:

        My personal favourite Ramesh Sippy work is also Shaan! Had mentioned this to Qalandar recently, who finds it interesting but derivative. I, for some reason, though always acknowledging that Sholay (and even Shakti) are the far more greater and important works, have always had this fascination with Shaan. It is just too uber-cool for its times, and there are sequences here that top some of my favourite masala moments… none more than the stylish dog-chase scene involving Sunil Dutt.

        Shaan also features Shatrughan Sinha in a role where he curiously seems to be channeling the Bachchan signature which you talk of. Sinha otherwise has always been rather comfortable in his own skin, however disgusting and off-putting that persona was. In Shaan, where interestingly Amitabh plays what is a take on the ‘colourful’ brother of Desai’s films, Shatru plays a more grim avatar of the angry Bachchan.

        • Agreed all round.. and I think Shaan has retained it’s ‘coolness’. Much like Qurbani (which too is a favorite of mine).

        • The second paragraph is insightful here Abzee and certainly this film has many great ‘cool’ moments. You rightly mention the dog chase, I also like the moment with the trucks somewhat earlier. Then later there is Mazhar Khan just before he gets killed on that massive incline. Note how there is a wonderful sense of extended ‘deferment’ in this film at key points. The deaths that take very long to ‘accomplish’. One for each half. Sunil Dutt in the first, Mazhar Khan in the second. Also what I like about this film is that for all its cool gestures and stylistics there are always ‘real costs’ around the corner. Whether it’s with the two deaths I just mentioned or Shatru’s wife and so on. Similarly Sunil Dutt’s death divides the film in a certain sense.. before this the film is about ‘play’, after this it becomes much more gritty with many great action sequences that are grittier than anything in the first half and so forth. Even a song sequence here (the greatest double decker one of Hindi cinema!) is interrupted with bullets! This is the difference between cinema as it once was and today. There were always costs.

  20. Hi Satyam…yet to read this. But after reading your D6 review I revisited it again..After reading your take on ‘Iruvar’ ,’Kannathil Muthamittal’..caught those movies too..So I’am sure I will end up catching up DMD again after reading this..Sataym, sooner or later I will take the prints out of your reviews of GURU, D6 and have them in their respective DVD cases

  21. Satyam, I have seen your D6 reviews, and I agree with it, (like I said before somewhere on this site, I finally found someone with the same mindset on films & filmmaking),however I would like to read your reviews on Guru, can you advise where i can find them on this site?

  22. abzee2kin Says:

    Finally, the piece that I’d been waiting for. DMD, I concur, is a a film that you cannot analyse or talk about without going backwards from the climax to the beginning.

    I’m glad you appreciate the second half as much as I did. The second half of DMD is in fact to me Rohan Sippy’s finest half in if one were to divide this and BM into four halves. As you rightly point out (and this is what I was having trouble expressing without running the risk of revealing spoilers in my review), the ‘authorial’ voice of the narrative has multiple shifts. Rangan, in his review, reads the second half, and not without some merit, as the omniscient voice of the director. The ‘ghost’ of the maker behind it all. This state of never being there and yet always being there, a signature of the greatest of filmmakers, and its cinematic expression by way of a ‘subject’ that is always there and yet never there was the purest joy of DMD and the unraveling of its mystery.

    One would be naive, admittedly gullible, to confuse the ‘enigma’ that Micahel Barbossa is as an extension of your Keyser Soze or what-have-you. I’ve had friends and read critics who’ve made this connection. But they fail to realize that in DMD, as your perfectly suggest, the quest is not for the ‘identity’ but rather the ‘thing’ that it signifies. It is not about the ‘who’ so much as the ‘what’.

    And in that is DMD’s greatest triumph. To have a feature where one Saraswat Brahmin cop (as one reader here correctly identified Vishnu Kamath as) enters Goa and rids it forever of its drug problem would have been a laughably simplistic and fantastical film. The intent of DMD is to ‘unearth’ the problem. A senile politician, a double-faced businessman (with genuine emotions mind you… that one scene where Pancholi’s Biscutta feels betrayed is a masterstroke) or a long-serving cop (Namdeo’s terrific Rane) whose being a turncoat may not necessarily be an indication of his lifelong treachery (Main na thaka hai, na bika hai… bas tika hai!)… they all are ‘bodies’ to a larger menace.

    The ‘ghost’ always hangs around. It is this knowledge that brings the smile on Kamath’s face at the end. Kamath, of course, was the privileged one given that he was initiated into this ‘quest’ by voice from beyond. And perhaps, and I’m glad you spoke of that curious look that Deepika gives him at the end of that song which I’d wanted to talk about but forgot to mention in my review, Kamath is the ‘undead’. Mind you, the ‘habshee’ which has racist origins (blacks and undercastes were called this), could very well be Kamath’s Saraswat Brahmin cop… Brahmins who are not necessarily Brhamins given that they eat fish and meat and most importantly, reside by the coast! The ‘nexus’ of this ‘economy of ghosts’ (wonderful term you’ve used to capture this world), even when its shifts from the ‘white’ Goa, still slithers (the serpent invoked early on) by the coast down south to Karnataka. It is actually quite an interesting bit of casting to have a Kannadiga Padukone (a Saraswat Brahmin herself) to not just be the ‘siren’ of this rave, but also the one who spots the ‘habshee’ Kamath.

    The final montage of Rana’s Joki driving past what seems like a town of ghosts is a brilliant ironic tie-in to that earliest line that likens Goa to heaven… and we all know you can never get to heaven, if you never get high. Either that, or die!

    The link between the ‘deception’ of DMD and that of BM is what fascinated me the most however. In BM, the joke is on Abhishek’s character when he realizes that he’s been ‘acting’ in someone else’s script all along. The plot device that was fabricated by the ‘author’ of that film, Priyanka’s character, was to have Abhishek believe he’s going to die. The knowledge of being a walking dead-man is what motivates him to do the ‘con’ there, not realizing that he is the one being conned, and his ‘death’ merely a device.

    In DMD, almost conversely, it is Abhishek’s character who seems to be the only one in on the joke! Hence that all-knowing contented smile. The ‘con’ in DMD, which nobody that populates this world is aware of, is that they are all ‘dead’. Their ‘life’, or state of ‘being alive’, is what is a con… and Kamath is the only one who knows that they are all the undead!

    • “The second half of DMD is in fact to me Rohan Sippy’s finest half in if one were to divide this and BM into four halves.”

      agreed completely!

      “The ‘ghost’ always hangs around. It is this knowledge that brings the smile on Kamath’s face at the end. Kamath, of course, was the privileged one given that he was initiated into this ‘quest’ by voice from beyond. ……………………. but also the one who spots the ‘habshee’ Kamath.”

      this entire paragraph is extremely enlightening Abzee..

      “The link between the ‘deception’ of DMD and that of BM is what fascinated me the most however. In BM, the joke is on Abhishek’s character when he realizes that he’s been ‘acting’ in someone else’s script all along.”


      I have the feeling you’ve said everything I needed to and with sharper insight in much more concise fashion!

  23. Alex adams Says:

    A v good analytical piece by satyam, as expected….
    A good attempt by abzeekin– though not sure if Rohan cast deepika since she was a “Brahmin” and not sure he thought of certain things consciously!!
    Btw– unrelated totally–
    Coming to psychoanalysis—- revisited parts of “love actually” yesterday. As we all will agree, it is full of cliches and a certain naivety.
    One really remembers the kjo style or vice versa lol.
    But it does have it’s moments and ends up getting the ensemble right.
    Will remain a good date movie or holiday flick…
    Sometime back, our bunch used to consistently try the “love actually” test. The story a person really likes used to give away a lot bout his/ her own personality.
    Would be worthwhile to know which one did the folks here like(and not liking any is not the option)!!!lol. Good fun…..

    • thanks much Alex.. the ‘conscious’ thing doesn’t matter as much because no ‘author’ no matter how ‘great’ can really consciously intend all possible ‘meaning’ that his/her work gives rise to. So for example we have uncountable books and essays on shakespeare. He clearly didn’t consciously intend all those readings. The important author though fashions a text which then leaves open the possibility of multiplex interpretations. The greater the number you can come up with the richer the work has been.

  24. Satyam Great review…Thanks

  25. Alex adams Says:

    Satyam: read my cumments above on love actually. It is not a great or even special movie by any means. Full of cliches and predictable”convenient accidents”. But feel it is a case study of sorts of where “tastes” and personalities and of how to oberstuff an esemble cast. which story in “love actually” did u like most lol.
    And “didn’t like any” or “a bit of a few” is not an option.hahaha
    Will be fun to read the ” choices” of others as well.

  26. alex adams Says:

    Dimps–Interesting views about Britain part of which are actually true.
    We brits are quiet adept at “marketing” but in todays world there is nothing to be apologetic about it.
    btw the indian govt did a good job of “marketing” “rising india” to the whole world during the Commonwealth games “Kalmadi-gate” lol
    A small note—Why didnt you see hordes of journalists climbing over each toher to get the best angle for the “kiss” or capturing the lip-reading Kate while asking william “are you happy”!!
    The reason was that specailly erected (collapsible) sutructers were created at key locations from where the journalistc can “shoot” to their orgasmic delight whilst not being incoveniently visible in the picture-prefect postcard settings.
    Ss for “hating english” —well, this is loooong debate and will try to veer off this one.
    But a quick question—If you have moved into the states (presumably work there), dont you think the “modern Macaulay education” and more importantly, your “masterly” use of both spoken and written (as we vouch) english language has helped this somewhere??
    Obviously, this is just a small figament of a large debate but just a small “counterpoint” lol

  27. satyam, you never fail to amaze me. not even a film critic as illustrious as roger ebert write as well as you do!. i mean it.

    i came back to seeing “dum maaro dum” for the second time this afternoon, and i liked it even better. i’m now convinced this is the best film abhishek bachchan has ever been in. i doubt rohan sippy will ever direct a film better than this…its THAT good!. the guy is too underrated. his previous film, bluffmaster was a solid, clever con movie. heck, even his “kuch naa kaho” wasn’t that bad at all. i kinda liked it, actually.

  28. Pradip Says:

    I ended up watching Rohan’s 1st movie ‘Kuch Naa Kaho’ (story by his 1st wife Rohena Gera) many times on TV. There is something very endearing and fresh about that movie. Now with all glory to him, one feels vindicated.

    • I too liked the movie at the time but sippy really messed it up in the last 20 min or so. On a related note (and you missed it) but at the beginning of DMD there was a really cool recap of many of the films from Ramesh and Rohan sippy by way of a logo-like cartoon skit.

      • Pradip Says:

        Agree. Just coincidently Rohan & Rohena ended up in divorce the same year (2003) movie was released.

  29. I watched the movie ‘Kuch Naa Kaho’ 2x. I think the beginning is very good, very dinamic .. but after it drops, there are many faults in the scenario .. anyway this is one of the few movies where we see “Abhi-Ash pair happy-love and “lol


    Two other references that I couldn’t mention in the original piece. First off there is definitely a Usual Suspects element here (as some have already mentioned) in the sense of having a red herring in the form of this larger than life shadowy figure.

    But also the final twist here is linked to the Good the Bad and the Ugly. For anyone who’s seen the film the connection with the gold there should be obvious.

    Finally that famous LA Confidential ‘shot’ (!) has had quite an afterlife in Hindi cinema. RGV is the master here having used it three times. There’s in fact a very interesting progression here — Satya features a near imitation of the original moment, it is then somewhat more mediated in Company in the sense that there is no intimacy here between the assassin the and the murdered man unlike the original though they clearly know about each other, finally in Sarkar Raj they are complete strangers in that they’ve never even been acquaintances and the assassin here is in any case a completely shadowy figure.

    And of course now the moment is repeated in DMD. Note by the way how Rohan Sippy stays much truer to the logic of this sort of shadowy subterranean world where ‘specters’ are necessarily present than RGV has ever been. In other words RGV sets it up well but his films are ultimately about personalities. Despite his best intentions his films require ‘heroes’ who can somehow overcome the entire ‘economy’ of their worlds. No such thing is possible in DMD. This is by the way why RGV quite often needs a mythic register because his ‘naive’ wager would otherwise completely fall flat. But there is nonetheless a tension here between the ‘pre-modern’ RGV and the ‘modern’ one. And it is much more acute in films like Sarkar or Sarkar Raj or the Rakta Charitra double than in Satya or Company. But we also see why he constantly ‘returns’ to the Bachchans.

    • Guardian UK review compares DMD to The Untouchables

      Dum Maaro Dum – review

      Philip French The Observer, Sunday 1 May 2011

      Dum Maaro Dum – review

      Share Comments (0)
      Philip French The Observer, Sunday 1 May 2011 Article history

      Abhishek Bachchan plays uncompromising Indian cop Vishnu Kamath in the surprisingly gritty Dum Maaro Dum.

      This entertaining if overlong Bollywood thriller is more than a little reminiscent of The Untouchables. By this, I mean it centres on an elite team of cops appointed to clean up Goa and nail the state’s secret Mr Big the way Eliot Ness and co were let loose on prohibition-era Chicago, not that it’s a film about the now unnamable lowest rung on India’s caste system.

      The director keeps his foot firmly on the accelerator, the sex and violence are more extreme than is customary in Mumbai flicks, and the dance numbers are largely confined to the drug-fuelled raves that are part of the culture targeted by assistant commissioner of police Vishnu Kamath’s detectives. (The film’s title, taken from a hit song of 1971, translates as “Puff take a puff”, a less than veiled reference to smoking pot.)

      The local authorities have taken strong exception to the film-makers’ assertion that Goa has been divided up into fiefdoms run by the mafias of a variety of countries and that a corrupt police force is in league with them.


  31. I’ve watched it second time at home. I liked it more second time, but I still feel it needs some more entertainment to do well at BO. It would have done well at BO with Abhishek not dying. People want Dum from hero at theend.

  32. what do you think about:
    quote from an interview of 28 April by FSJ…….”Abhishek has Recently Hired a PR Firm of His Own – Amitabh and Aishwarya use different publicist. It Was Time That did “The Youngest Bachchan – Even diplomacy Devgn Koffee With Karan is remarked Abhishek That Needed a new PR professional. “…………..

  33. Great Expectationss
    2 May 2011 |

    Living in the shadows of India’s one and only superstar and a respected actress who in her heydays was the epitome of grace onscreen and, dare I say it, the world’s most recognised beautiful face, ex beauty queen turned somewhat of a crossover phenomenon in films who commands a princely sum for the smallest endorsement, must be a huge burden for someone who’s time and again faced criticism for his bad run at the box office.

    Now add to it that the former two are his parents and the latter is his wife who enjoys global recognition like no other Bollywood star has or probably ever will. Even Atlas would have shrugged.

    If anyone deserves a break from the constant comparisons, expectations and enormous pressure of being a star son and star husband, it’s Abhishek Bachchan.

    I remember being a staunch Aamir Khan loyalist when I first set eyes on Abhishek. I was whizzing past Mumbai’s High Court after a lovely dinner at a colleague’s house, and we stopped when we saw Abhishek along with his dance troupe doing this hackneyed ascending-descending routine on the steps in front of the High Court for I think his Bollywood debut. His body language conveyed his uncertainty, but he still kept pace with his fellow dancers, for I think a good few minutes. My colleague and I perched ourselves on the bonnet of his car and watched in rapt attention as the dance routine was filmed.

    I found Abhishek endearingly awkward then. I find him endearingly awkward now.

    I can’t say I’ve followed his career with a magnifying glass ever since, but I’ve sought out a few movies of his that I’ve made it a point to see on the big screen. He may be far from being an accomplished actor after more than a decade of playing people he isn’t, but I think he’s more of an actor than most of the established leading men that Bollywood touts everyday ad nauseum, including arch rival, Hrithik Roshan.

    His detractors tend to forget that even his much respected superstar father had an equally insipid run before he struck gold at the box office. His detractors also forget that given Bollywood’s penchant for dancing and beating around the bush, Abhishek’s schtick, if you will, is as far removed from shaking a leg as Hrithik Roshan’s is from histrionics.

    You may well throw Koi Mil Gaya in my face – I take that and raise you a Kites. I don’t know, in my saner half of the world, people with developmental issues or an overprotected environment at home don’t dance with leading ladies in romantic settings. NOTE: I’m not for one moment discounting Hrithik’s amazing dance moves and Greek God good looks, but I’m saying, that’s all there is to it. Maybe a little more, and I really hope Hrithik comes into his own acting-wise, but there’s not much you can say to convince me otherwise.

    Coming back to Abhishek, his body of work is something that will probably make him cringe to his last movie, but tell me of one good actor who’s not made bad acting choices and I’ll take all my words back.

    If at all there’s one thing he can be ridiculed for, it’s for making some monumentally bad choices in his career. Then then there’s this irksome little fact that there are no Hrishikesh Mukherjees and Prakash Mehras now, only self-aggrandizing, over-exaggerated pompous clones with neither the vision nor the courage to make movies that don’t play to the gallery. If it weren’t for Hrishida and Mehra, the world wouldn’t have seen half of the best movies of both Amitabh’s and Jaya’s careers, something that served them well during their prime.

    Abhishek’s strengths are deadpan dialogue delivery, spot-on comic timing and that little overlooked facet that most so-called leading men can only dream of, the express-an-emotion-without-the-aid-of-a-dialogue detail. I remember that lovely scene from Delhi 6 where his face is lit up by the lamp after a short exchange with Waheeda Rehman, and he says so much without saying anything at all – his expressive eyes, that he’s inherited from his actress mother, do all the talking for him. Then there’s that pert rejoinder in Kucch Naa Kaho, which he delivers poker-faced in a way only he can in the current crop of Bollywood actors. His chemistry with his then rumoured lady love Rani Mukherjee and comic timing was there for all to see in Bunty aur Babli.

    While he’s not likely to be forgiven for agreeing to mouth the dumbest catch phrase in brand endorsement’s history (Get idea) and for agreeing to star in Raavan, seen as one of the biggest debacles of his, his wife’s and Mani Ratnam’s career, his Zanjeer or Abhimaan, or hell, even Sholay, is not too far away. Luck is bound to be a lady one of these nights and when she does shine on him, which she will, look me up – we’ll toast his success together and I’ll proudly tell you I told you so.

    – Yahoo

  34. Pradip Says:

    It seems his new PR agency working overtime. Too much of anything is bad, except good whiskey and his dad!

    • Re: except good whiskey and his dad!

      lol.Well said, Pradip. One can never have too much of either.
      Tho I felt differently this morning as I woke up sleep deprived and hung over from too much of single malt.

  35. Yes I also think it’s his PR agency. see the differance? No news in BO, not a bad article, even b.hungama write as good things. He had to do it earlier … lol
    Source: http://www.abhishekbachchan.org/news-full.php/2011/05/02/great-expectationss.html

  36. By some measure this was the best Hindi film I’ve seen in some time. Will write on it soon.

    This was a spectacularly rich piece, Satyam, thanks. Worth the wait and then some.

    “For if graves signify that bodies rest within them they also equally indicate that ghosts always escape. ”

    Beautiful and gets to the heart of what this film is really about.

    • thanks much GF… look forward to your own piece when you get the chance..

    • Glad to know you liked it.

      On a side note, history is littered with bodies of slain men who meant to/ promised to write reviews of DMD but never got around to it!

  37. Abhishek Bachchan’s dates for Ram Gopal Varma hijacked by Abbas-Mustan:

    • not sure if I entirely buy this. RGV could have waited a month or two for the dates especially since he starts and finishes movies in a month! And has in fact already embarked on a smaller film before Department!

      On Players though Abbas-Mustaan are pulling out all the stops here. This looks to have some spectacular action sequences. And probably every kind! Easily their biggest project ever. Wonder where they go after this. There has to be some saturation point to what one can do in a single film (within this genre)! There’s a rumor that there might be a schedule in St Petersburg. Might be a first for Hindi cinema. Sadly Abbas-Mustaan are not the best directors to capture this city!

      • Players is a sure fire hit. Hope Abbas-Mastan stay true to form and have a good sound track.

      • the Russian
        The team will stay in Russia one month in Murmansk, St. Petersburg, Moscow (they also write that Aish will shoot too, she left April 30)

  38. The sequences are to be shot on the Trans-Siberian railway track where permission is almost-impossible to obtain….this is true, the Russians have also written

  39. alex adams Says:

    v briefly visited..St peterburg— quite an alluring place–
    Hope to be able to savour the st petersberg—moscow new high speed train—heard from a friend that the scenery is awesome!

    • I have an ambition to visit the city in July/Aug when it is really supposed to the ‘city of white nights’. Haven’t been there any other time either. Definitely one of the great cities of the world.

  40. alex adams Says:

    If one like this sort of “russian/soviet”ness, petersberg is the most “western” city and more importantly, the beer capital of russia—
    For some other reasons—also try out Budapest—have had some really good time there–love the architecture.
    The initial reels of Aks captures budapest brilliantly

  41. alex adams Says:


  42. want you see Guru poster in reality ??? -lol
    here: http://twitpic.com/4td0g8

    and http://twitpic.com/4td01e

  43. mirabai Says:

    Thanks for the links Tata, you are such a gem! The real life Guru and Sarkar!!

  44. shaurya Says:

    movies of abhishek like guru and bunty aur babli have thier gross revenues in wikipedia as amount given in “nett gross revenue section” of boxofficeindia.com… which reduces it considerably as compared to the figures of salman khan movies which have figures of revenue , qouted from “gross revenue” section and not from “net gross revenue section” of BOI. ex– dabangg and wanted also gross revenue of dum maaro dum is “32 crores in india and 51 crores worldwide” according to BOXOOFICEINDIA.COM and GLAMSHAM.COM. but wikipedia qoutes it to be 22 crores… one of user even made it to 7 crores yesterday… is this not tarring the image of wikipedia… and if wikipedia accepts BOI.COM as standard source of box office… can anyone tell me… how on earth a movie of budget 20crores DMD is labelled flop after making 32 crores in domestic circuit.. and a movie like thank you is tagged average even after loosing 9 crores on box office

    • Bhalo_Manush Says:

      “how on earth a movie of budget 20crores DMD is labelled flop after making 32 crores in domestic circuit..”

      Did not know BO status of a movie depends upon BUDGET of the movies…

      • How else do you think success is measured? Even in HW it is based on the production and marketing budgets.

        The difference is that BW has no clean cut system for reporting theatrical revenue and sites like BOI give BS verdicts.

        Thank You cost 58 cr including p&p and makes 47 cr and BOI says average/below average when it is clearly a flop.

        • Bhalo_Manush Says:

          If you will consider budget then it’s a success for the producer…Bollywood has been following the process based on distributor share…now suddenly since Abhishek needs a hit, it comes to budget…

          I don’t know what’s the status of DMD and hardly i care…when the year ends no body will care about a 32 crore grosser movie…but the parameter (distributor share) still remains the same…

          “The difference is that BW has no clean cut system for reporting theatrical revenue and sites like BOI give BS verdicts.”

          No matter you can follow IBOS….

    • iffrononfire Says:

      indian box office is hardly transparent and will never be due to black money and murky distribution dealings

      even budgets or distribution costs of movies in media most of the times are increased or decreased due to convenience factor

  45. mirabai Says:

    AAh, Shaurya, welcome to the crooked world of indian BO reporting and the frustrations of being a Bachchan fan!! We always end up asking….how on earth??!!

  46. shaurya Says:

    @ bhalo manush

    bheja fry made around 4.5 crores…. peepli live made 17 crores… tere naam never crossd 35 crore benchmark… but at the end of the year world did care for them… they were thoroughly apreciated and media went gaga over there success…
    movies like johny gaddar established neil nitin mukesh as a star… and so dis bachna aye hasino did to ranbeer kapoor…. none of them crossed 30 crores in terms of bussiness… wake up sid made 25 crores… and world did care for them…. nd so did media and people like u…
    then y not dum maaro dum…
    it is interesting that media is silent bout dum maaro dum and abhishek
    bachchan after the success of dum maaro dum…. but they were all gaga over game and raavan’s failure…. appears to me like an attempt to silence dis man’s success… but janta will remmember dmd… and this will show wen AB’s next venture come to theatres…. the opening’s will b better… we should not forget that both Delhi 6 and Raavan had decent opening’s…. it was only after raavan’s debacle that people lost interest…. and a gud movie like dmd will surely wash his raavan sins considerebly

    • one correction on the numbers. Peepli actually made 30-34 crores. Dhobi Ghat did about 14-15 crores. With the latter 90% of it came in week 1 but 1)without Aamir it would have made Rs 5 and 2)I think the audience for this film was pretty much exhausted in week 1 (plus even those who liked it were not likely to have revisited it). I only mention all of this because the Peepli number is impressive but relative to the kind of film it is DG’s gross is even more remarkable.

      Do agree that there has been a great deal of silence on DMD beyond a point. Yes relative to expectation this is a disappointing gross but this is a still a profitable film relative to the budget (which these folks otherwise pretend to care about). And certainly after the non-show of KHJJS and Game this is a big jump. Salman commenting on Ready recently was honest enough to shrug off the fact that the film was hot saying that because of Wanted and Dabanng it was hot but with some flops leading upto this it would have been a different story. So with DMD some of Abhishek’s recent damage definitely showed. Even with the kind of trending it had think this could have cleared 45 crores for sure, maybe even touched 50 had he been in better standing. But in this business grosses are cumulative and similarly failures have a cumulative impact too. In this sense Rohit Shetty might be the biggest winner. The next Abhishek release is Players. It should be a significant grosser with a much bigger initial. Whether it can get the biggest possible initial for this genre is questionable. But assuming that one works following up on DMD and this Bol Bachchan should have an advantage. The same goes for that Santoshi film whenever it releases. Alternatively DMD also has the kind of gross where sandwiched between hits it would be called a success and similarly if it starts a positive string for Abhishek. The same film if it is sandwiched between flops confirms the opposite narrative. Do think that DMD will be called a hit the next time a Rohan-Abhishek film comes along. There is some gray area here. But getting back to your point there’s no way if Thank You is any kind of plus film that DMD shouldn’t be considered more than it.

    • Bhalo_Manush Says:

      “bheja fry made around 4.5 crores…. peepli live made 17 crores… tere naam never crossd 35 crore benchmark… but at the end of the year world did care for them… they were thoroughly apreciated and media went gaga over there success…”

      There is a difference between Dum maro Dum and “SOME” of the movies you have mentioned. Don’t think Dum Maro Dum did anything substantial critically and commercially.

      Johney Gadar is a far far better film than DMD…but blind fans will hardly see it…I myself had huge expectations from DMD after the theatrical trailor was out…but was heavily disappointed..found it quite irritating that some of the blind fans are going gaga over it…same happened with Sarkar Raaj…If some one says Guru or Yuva or Sarakar, I completely agree…these are the films which i have seen multiple times..But DMD and Sarkar Raaj are plain average movies…..

      “it is interesting that media is silent bout dum maaro dum and abhishek
      bachchan after the success of dum maaro dum…. but they were all gaga over game and raavan’s failure…. appears to me like an attempt to silence dis man’s success”

      Now a days most of the actors including the likes of Ajay devgan, Saif ali khan, the 3 khans, HR and Ranbir are giving far bigger grossers. Who in the media will care about a DMD that will come after Game or Raavan…

      • shaurya Says:

        o really …
        hritik gave blockbusters like guzarish and kites…..
        and not to forget ranbeer who gave a superhit like anjaan anjani

      • shaurya Says:

        but then others are givin bigger duds also…. but media is still concerned about game and raavan, the rules shuld be same

  47. shaurya Says:

    recently in a article in hindustan times….. amitabh bachchan was criticized for promoting abhishek… by uploading piks of abhishek with fans….

    If one goes on twiter… one can clearly see…. only 2 of his fans questioned him…. but more then 50 followers congratulated him on dmd’s success…

    but media potrayed it as BIG B FACES FAN’S WRATH ON PROMOTING ABHISHEK…. article was about how abhishek failed in dmd and how fans r criticizing him on twitter….

    so to media 2 fans who criticized matter but 50 fans who appreciated dont matter… i mean wat is d problem guys… did he ditched that journolist’s daughter or wat…. y conspiring all the time… is there no one… absolutely no one in media… who is not stabbing him delibrately… he is no superstar but there are people who like him….
    abhishek bachchan fan club has 83 thousand fans on orkut…. and there may b 80 thousand more who r not on orkut or facebook…. and if 1.5 lakh people want to see there star on screen let him act…. u dont wanna see… dont go to the theatres….. no one is forcing you….
    but dont tell those 1.5 lakh people who’s movies to watch and who’s to not

  48. shaurya Says:

    @ bhalo manush

    boxofficeindia.com has an article which states THE SON NEVER SETS…

    that abhishek bachchan never had a movie above 35 crore benchmark… nd the same site states that guru nd bunty aur babli made 62 crores and 51 crores respectively… sarkar raj made 37 crores and was better success then sarkar… which was big b’s film… bluff master made 37 too…

    unfortunately the same site is accepted by wikipedia as standard reference… for a verdict

    as far as giving his credit to big b on success of bunty aur babli… i would like to ask… big b couldn’t make VIRRUDH , bhootnath, cheeni kum, dev, the last lier,khakhi, AKS quite a success when the responsibility of box office verdict lied on his shoulder… they all fell short of expectations…

    • Bhalo_Manush Says:

      “as far as giving his credit to big b on success of bunty aur babli… i would like to ask… big b couldn’t make VIRRUDH , bhootnath, cheeni kum, dev, the last lier,khakhi, AKS quite a success when the responsibility of box office verdict lied on his shoulder… they all fell short of expectations…”


      I can also say 20 films of Abhishek which did not work….When two average stars are in a film then you can not exactly give credit to a single star …like DHOOM :) …similarly when a big star is doing a film with an average star then most of the BO credit should go to the bigger star… like Dhoom 2 …

      • shaurya Says:

        @ bhalo manush
        give me one example where bachchan sir has delivered a solo blockbuster in last 10 years…. there is no doubt he is most respected and greatest actor to walk this planet… he is the god of indian cinema… but i dnt agree that he is still that bankable on box office as he was earlier… coz he is respected but people dont watch movies to pay the homage… none of his movies have recieved even d type of opening one expects from a superstar… he is d best in d bussiness but not that bankable anymore…

        • vatikala Says:

          give me one example where bachchan sir has delivered a solo blockbuster in last 10 years…
          That may be because of the roles he is getting due to age factor.
          He has immense brand value and personal charm which can be turned as goodwill in commercial terms.
          He is not that bankable. Yet his presence in movies attracts a lot of curiosity unlike Dev Anand’s.
          In my case, I was not floored by his movies at any point of time. But I was floored by his personal charisma, aura or whatever it is called. The thing is that he would not have been noticed this much if not for those movies. A question of who came first? The egg or the chick. Whether the charisma made him what he is or his films made that charisma visible for us.

          • “But I was floored by his personal charisma, aura or whatever it is called.”

            Totally agree. I liked the Hrishikesh Mukerjee phase of his acting career the best. I think dialogue delivery is his forte.
            dialogues like “Hum jahan khade hote hai line waheen se shuru hoti hai” kya baat hai
            and and also his eyes speaks volumes….lot of “acting” happens in non-verbal plane. I think only other actor who could match bigb was Shatrughan Sinha.

      • shaurya Says:

        bo credit depends upon the role of the star in movie….. big b had much smaller role in bunty aur babli as compared to hritik in dhoom 2…. b aur b was abhishek’s movie….. dhoom 2 was hritiks movie…. as simple as dat…

        • Two points must briefly be made:

          1)I am always suspicious of those (because I have actually encountered many) folks who suddenly become Amitabh Bachchan’s fans the moment he acts with Abhishek. In these instances they suddenly ‘realize’ his stardom or think he’s an awesome actor or whatever. In other cases they do everything to either ignore his contributions or even deconstruct him in very many ways,

          2)Bachchan has made many decisions over the last twenty years that have been commercially extremely questionable. These have resulted in an erosion of his box office potential. But every so often he nonetheless comes up with box office moments and/or critical accomplishments that are stupendous for his age. Most recently we saw this with Paa. However in these instances one cannot start comparing his grosses to the biggest ones around without accounting for his age, his choices (this isn’t Rajnikant who kept playing to his strengths as a box office matter and who does films once in a while and creates box office events), and so on. But also one cannot do so without accounting for his sheer transcendence elsewhere. The number of ads he has done over the years and in every area of human endeavor (clearly revealing his appeal to be greater than any of his younger peers) but also in terms of his TV outings (KBC remains the most iconic appearance ever by a star on TV, the first one is the stuff of TV history and lore but even the most recent season was enough to leave all of his younger peers in the dust and he will now be back for two more seasons when he’s pushing 70) and the demand for his person in many many other public avenues and forums. This HAS to be taken note of because this doesn’t happen with stars who are ‘nothing’. In other words his box office narrative such as it has been for a while is actually not the right index of his potency as a star and icon. Precisely because he is often not ‘Amitabh Bachchan’ the icon people have loved and come to expect in many of his films. Not to mention that many of the films were either poor to begin with or featured him in less than defining roles. But elsewhere from his ads to TV he always ‘is’ the icon people love. So it isn’t just about ‘age’. Clearly Bachchan transcends age as well to the degree humanly possible. It is about what one does.

          So much for the brevity!

          On BhaloManush, if someone cannot even ‘see’ that Abhishek got great critical attention for DMD (even in instances where the film did not..) then it is like banging one’s head against a wall. Because we can interpret facts differently but if we bring our own ‘facts’ to the table no serious debate can be had.

          • Bhalo_Manush Says:

            “On BhaloManush, if someone cannot even ‘see’ that Abhishek got great critical attention for DMD”

            @Satyam..I agree here about Abhishek’s performance…even i liked it a lot…but I was talking about the movie…not abhishek’s performance…

          • But the movie got good enough reviews.. it wasn’t reviewed like Guru but it was overall positive.

      • shaurya Says:

        when a person gives abhishek’s credit for bunty aur babli to big b …… i guess something tells me that person is anti abhishek lobby… i have reason’s to blieve u r not impartial towards him…. and i dont bang my head on the wall…..

  49. shaurya Says:

    @ satyam

    well according to people who r pulling abhishek and dmd down… abhishek was never a bankable star at the box office…. no one’s interested in his film’s… then y do we talk bout expectations ….. let’s say media never had any expectations from abhishek…. d only expected thing was that movie will go unnoticed like game and khjjs….

    according to media a star who is hated by people and has never had a genuine success… y to expect 50 crores from his movie …
    i dont think anyone in media ever believd or thought dmd to even gross 30 plus… so how can they project 32 a dissapointing figure… and this is not life time adjusted figure… which can even touch 35…

    • Shaurya.. one of the lessons one must learn quickly in life is you can’t engage with people who are not serious and who are simply operating using various agendas. I have often succumbed to such temptation myself but ideologues don’t change their views when presented with the evidence. They just give it a different spin. Of course that doesn’t stop me from tackling them from time to time. People also need a few good knocks regularly so that they don’t get too out of hand with all the craziness!

  50. shaurya Says:

    @ satyam

    I have a firm believe that the reasons behind anti abhishek lobby are
    1. he bounced bak when he was panned down
    2. ofcourse privilege of being a bachchan
    3. that he is married to ashwarya rai…. whole salman khan lobby wants to see him devastated… if you go on youtube… you can very well see salman fan’s abusing him to the extent of vulgarity… not only his acting but… you can see comments bout his better half… and how he is no one infront of salman khan… the hatred those people have for him coz aishwarya chose him over some one else… almost compels them to abuse him… and we all the same lobby exists in media too… people who think this will please the star who lost the lady…
    i dont intend to say that salman khan wants this to happen… but yes his fans do want this… and they always try there best…
    these people treat anti abhishek efforts like the mission of thier life

    • Sorry To jump in Shaurya, I too have felt the same way after reading some comments on youtube, and not necessarily salman would want something like this to happen anyway. Just the fans and some media personalities who wants to please salman may be taking that route, ofcourse Jr is an easy target for the media, its too easy for them, Same meida personalities dont have same views when it comes to salman vs srk. On that front all they want to do there is patch them up, which is ridiculous, I never like to indulge in peoples private lives, let alone celebrities to each its own man. you know. For example, MJ got so much slack for child abuse etc, but YOU CANNOT deny he was the greatest pop star in the HISTORY EVER, period. Just like that, who cares what they do in their personal lives, as long as what they do on screen gives you the 3 hrs of fullfilment of your hard earned monies is all that matters, yes at times favoratism does play a role from fans, Let me for an example, yes I do believe that I DO NOT WANT TO SEE agneepath or other such remakes of Bachchans but thats on Bachchans professional front, but taking personal potshots at SRK’s personal live is not my cup of tea, (just giving my example) Just like that other celebrity fans should respect others celebs privacy and their choices. Like i said to each its own man. Live and let live. Peace out.

    • @ shaurya – am sorry but I completely disagree with you that Salman fans abuse Abhishek due to his wife. I have never thought like that. Infact you will find other star fans who abuse him for reasons best known to them.

      The guy is in his own space and films are there for him so I don’t understand the frustration of Junior B fans. His DMD has done well considering his last few films so you guyz should be happy.

      • Have to agree a bit with Naveed here.
        Of the three Khans, Salman fans are least obnoxious/blatant partisans.
        Majority of SRK fans and quite a few Aamir fans can be intolerable.

        • rajen – we Salman fans are bashed anyway so who are we going to abuse? (and am not being sarcastic :)

  51. shaurya Says:

    @ satyam

    you said it…

  52. I haven’t seen this film, but I have read other reviews and am aware of its pre-eminence. A number of the contributions, including those by cinematographer Amit Roy and the fikm’s composers have been highly-praised, and even with a few disclaimers that the work could have been even greater, it’s one that sounds essential.

    This is a spectacular review that again raises the question why the supremely-talented Satyam isn’t more active on the reviewing front.

    The film opened in Manhattan in April, and for whatever reaosn I missed out. I’ll certainly look forward to the DVD.

    • thanks much for that comment Sam.. if you write infrequently you can fool people into believing you’re talented! That’s my key!

  53. just finished watching DMD- great movie, great performances and very well done.
    Abhishek is in top form here , Rana did not impress me at all.

  54. A BM sequel might be in the works. There was a news story on this but also Rohan Sippy seemed to allude to it on twitter recently.

  55. Satyam I have been planning to revisit DMD since quite some time and would do so tomorrow so I thought it would be good to read your piece beforehand. I would come back to this and GF’s piece after watching the film in a day or two but for now this was a very illuminating and instructive read

    A part of my older comment-

    Saurabh on December 30, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    This was a very instructive note to the say the least Satyam. Thanks!

    The biggest thing which nags me regarding these neo-masala films has been the complete lack of any political/social charge in them. I mean even a film like Ajith’s Citizen had a very moving social tragedy at its core (the massacre and the town being wiped off the map). I mean is Citizen too high a bar for these Masala films.

    The other thing which is conspicuous by its absence in these films is any kind of unique vision ; on the other hand I have always felt that for instance the seed of the frustrated Vijay Dinanath Chauhan was sown by Salim Javed in the character arcs of Vijay of Deewar/Zanjeer itself- they had already somewhere envisioned that considering the social and political circumstances around it was only natural that Vijay Verma would soon lose hope and turn into an even more angry and frustrated Vijay Chauhan (and this can be extended to Khakee where Bachchan is probably now not sure of his masculinity and tries to force it upon people- the belt-lashings he gives to Ajay Angre in the climax is one such example. And again to tie it with your DMD point that the Angry Young Man can no more belong to today’s world, this might just be the reason why it is Tusshar and not Bachchan who gets to kill Devgn)

    And on ‘specters’, in Barot’s Don the scene where the wounded Don is suddenly shown sitting behind Ifthikar in the car- that image of Don was like a specter itself. As if he was already dead yet present somewhere as a haunted figure. And compare this with the new version where Farhan makes a ‘failed’ attempt to resurrect Don in that absolutely ridiculous climax. You simply cannot recreate the past!

    • thanks for the comment Saurabh.. actually I’ve wanted to revisit it for a while too but haven’t gotten around to it. A lot of these films I watch multiple times in the theater and then I don’t quite feel like watching them on DVD. Of course there’s no choice beyond a point.

      On Citizen I’m a very great fan of its first half. This has one of the most effective uses of a traumatic event in the past that I’ve seen in masala cinema. The whole film doesn’t quite live upto this but it was extremely well-handled. I’ve been pushing this film for years! But you’re absolutely right. No one is interested in this sort of thing on Bombay.

  56. And Satyam why don’t you tweet your piece (as well as GF’s and Abzee’s) to Shridhar Raghavan (ShridharR) and Rohan Sippy!

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