Friday, March 25, 2011

Spotlight: Dhoom 2 (2006)

One danger of putting work into these entries is that you soon discover that the posts may become outdated quickly as films are removed from Netflix or other streaming sources.  Such is the case with my recent Shah Rukh Khan Quick Picks entry on March 14.  Thanks to InstantWatcher (a very valuable resource) I now realize that many of those SRK films will expire on April 15.  In fact, it appears like many Bollywood films will expire that same day, meaning you should take some time the next two-and-a-half weeks and catch up on these films while they are still available.

From the rest of the soon-to-expire Bollywood list, one film you should check out before April 15 is Dhoom 2.

Dhoom 2 (Sanjay Gadhvi, India, 2006, 145 minutes)
Netflix: Ali (Uday Chopra) and Jai (Abhishek Bachchan) are cops hot on the tail of notorious globetrotting thief Mr. A, who's now eyeing a target in Mumbai. They team up with the lovely Shonali (Bipasha Basu), an expert on Mr. A's methods. Now, each side tries to outwit the other in a race against time. Will Mr. A and his beautiful accomplice, Sunehri, slip away again? Or will the police thwart them and capture them at last? Netflix link.

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Bollywood, I would recommend starting with the SRK films listed above.  But at the same time, I think Dhoom 2 is one of the most shamelessly (in the best sense of the word) entertaining films in recent memory.  Some may be turned off by its mix of tones and genres, as well as its global-pop sensibilities.  Others may also dismiss it as derivative and banal.  But I had an opportunity to see this in a good 35mm print with an enthusiastic audience, and it was a great screening experience.

A little background: Back in 2006, I had just cancelled a class on Bollywood films at the University of North Carolina Wilmington due to under enrollment.  But I had an opportunity to help bring Dhoom 2 to the campus theater.  The response was so strong that I had several students come up and ask me about the class, and I had to tell them it had been cancelled due to lack of interest.  The following semester I offered the class again and had full (and enthusiastic) enrollment, and many of the students were at that Dhoom 2 screening.  That enthusiasm was maintained as we went through the history of Bollywood, from Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt through Amitabh Bachchan and SRK.  Subsequently the class became more integrated into the curriculum.  The lesson learned from the experience is related to why I'm doing this blog: If people knew about a wider range of films, they might develop interests that they didn't even know they had. 

Like my students who had some doors opened by the film, this film led me to explore new things as well.  In part inspired by the film, I ended up going to the Chicago stop of The Unbelievable Tour, which featured two Dhoom 2 cast members, Abhishek Bachchan and his wife Aishwarya Rai.  (More importantly, I got to see Abhishek's father, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan as well.)

For me, the key to the film is that is just fun, without being self-conscious.  The colors are vibrant, the stars are gorgeous, and the dance sequences are energetic (even if they are not always to my taste).  But when it comes down to it, you're not going to watch the film because of anything I say here.  You'll know if it is for you after the opening sequence, so here it is:

Dhoom2 Part1 by kakkuk

If you end up watching the film before it expires and you want to share your thoughts, love it or hate it, please do so in the comments below.  

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