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Dhamaka : Kartik Aaryan’s Award-Worthy Performance In A Taut Thriller



Kartik Aaryan


Starring Kartik Aaryan, Amruta Subhash , Mrunal Thakur

Directed  by Ram Madhvani

Rating: ****

Dhamaka is a   stinging slap  in the face  of sponsored  journalism where money and not the conscience  , and certainly not  the  welfare  of  humanity,  guides  the  television anchor to scream  blatant lies.All is well as long as the  lies sell.And sell everything  for TRPs.

There is a  defining moment in this  tense tale of  the teacher and the  ‘taut’ where our conscience-stricken journalist-hero  blurts out to his boss, “Yeh sach nahin   hai.”

Haan , yeh news hai,” the boss reminds Arjun.

The boss(fed into  Arjun’s phone as ‘Ankita Boss’) is  a hardnosed ruthless media  vulture played with characteristic spunk  by  Amruta Subhash. She  will do anything to get the TRPs rolling. Arjun Pathak, lately  disgraced and demoted, is willing to  play along , when a vigilante/terrorist/reformer( we can label him what we want depending on which side  of the blown-up bridge we  standing on) named Raghuvir Mahata calls in at the  news channel Bharosa 24/7 with information  that  could  be  a game-changer in the media’s relationship with the newmaker,not to  mention Arjun’s relationship with his conscience and also with his wife(Mrunal  Thakur).

It all seems too compactly packaged initially,  with all the ingredients  of Arjun Pathak’s downfall lined in one line  of vision. But then  Ram Madhvani  decides to  turn it all around. And as Pathak’s  world falls apart(like the bridge  blown up by the faceless  aam aadmi on  the phone) we realize , nothing is as it ‘screams’

Behind every voice  of protest  is an unacknowledged unread mythology of  pain suffering and humiliation. As  I heard Raghuvir Mahata’s rage  vent itself viscerally into threats  of  unmitigated violence I  thought  of  the innocent  tribal who was  tortured to death in police  custody  in the recent Tamil  film Jai Bhim.What if  Rajakannu in Jai Bhim had survived? Wouldn’t he be that  voice threatening  to blow up  the city  in Dhamaka?

Taking off as a terrorist-negotiator  thriller, Ram Madhvani’s film moves into areas  of  storytelling where  terrorism merges into opportunism and  good intentions are  regurgitated  in a  pukey mess.  It is a powerful  parable on injustice and discrimination  delivered with  brute force that spares us none of  the  violence  that  a situation of social inequality breeds and bleeds  into a compromised  nation.

Besides Kartik Aaryan the  other heroes of this  tactile thriller are Monisha  Baldawa-AmitaKaria’s editing and   Manu Anand’s cinematography . These master-technicians  put  a dizzying spin to  the  out-of-control lives of  neurotic  characters  , playing  live on television.

The  supporting  performances  specially by  Amruta Subhash as  the Boss  and Soham Majumdaras  the  Voice, are bitch-perfect and  pitch-perfect  , respectively.

But it is  Kartik Aaryan  whose powerful performance holds the  film together. His  journey   from a selfserving scumbag  to a conscientious  newshound is convincingly  achieved by the young actor. This is his best performance  to date, and one that puts him ahead  of all competition. I see Kartik winning all  the best-actor awards  this year.

Dhamaka is  one of Netflix India’s most hard-hitting  films  in recent times.  There are many  reasons why  it  must be seen. Besides being a  thoroughly entertaining thriller  it opens up wounds that never healed. They never will. Not in a society where the conscience is  a luxury.



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