A remake of the South Korean action thriller titled “The Terror Live” has “exploded” the big screens in Bollywood. Co-written, co-produced and directed by Ram Madhvani, ”Dhamaka” is an action thriller which has “blasted” all box office records and made its way to the top. The film stars Kartik Aaryan as a Mumbai-based downgraded news anchor named Arjun Pathak who can go up to any extent to revive his lost fame.
Things were not going well in Arjun’s life. Once a top class news anchor, he got demoted due to an unpleasant news coverage incident and what’s worse, he had also undergone a divorce! One day, while radio jockeying for his morning show, Arjun received a phone call from a terrorist who threatened to blow up the Bandra-Worli Sea Bridge, which was visible from his news studio. Arjun thought this was some prank call and didn’t take it seriously. This angered the terrorist and he detonated the explosives which blew up the bridge. Many innocent people were killed and many more were trapped within the collapsed bridge.
Arjun watched the bridge explode and collapse from his studio and had an idea! This was perhaps his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make his comeback in the news broadcasting industry. So, he decided not to inform the police and instead made a call to his news producer ex-boss, Ankita Malaskar (Amruta Subhash). Ankita was so profit-obsessed that she could resort to any means in order to outsmart her news channel’s competitors.
The deal was set and Ankita and Arjun decided that only they will cover this entire bridge bombing incident in detail in Ankita’s news channel. Arjun set to work and pursued a dangerous deal with the terrorist who blew up the bridge. He began his telephonic conversation with the terrorist and this conversation was being broadcast live in real-time as the whole nation watched. Arjun’s ex-wife, Saumya (Mrunal Thakur) who also was a reporter, volunteered to cover and report this incident from the site of the collapsed bridge.
During the live coverage conversation with Arjun, the terrorist addressed himself as a senior construction worker named Raghubeer Mhata who had lost three of his co-workers in an accident while fixing the same bridge which he just blew up. He had a grudge on the state government as the demands of the victims’ families were not compensated after the accident, and that was the reason he blew up the bridge. The terrorist demanded that the state’s minister should apologize to him for this senseless industrial accident and also for not fulfilling the demands of the victims’ families.
Several hostages were stuck on the collapsed Bandra-Worli Sea Bridge. The terrorist threatened over the live coverage call that if the minister doesn’t apologize right away, he would trigger a second explosion which will kill all the hostages. He also threatened Arjun by revealing that he has placed a mini bomb in his earphone as well and if they don’t adhere to his demands, he will blast Arjun’s head off live on air!
The perturbed Arjun assured the terrorist that he would request the minister to come to his studio and give the apology. It was then the mishap happened! The minister didn’t come himself and instead sent his deputy Subhash Mathur (Vishwajeet Pradhan) to the news studio for apologizing to the terrorist. Mathur, as arrogant as he was, refused to bow down to the terrorist’s apology demands and asked him to negotiate on the matter. He also started abusing the terrorist over the live phone call which further heated up the argument. Arjun suddenly had a realization that Mathur’s earpiece too had a bomb similar to his, and by enraging the terrorist he is doing nothing other than digging his own grave! Arjun immediately tried to warn Mathur by signaling him but his fate was already sealed! The terrorist saw him trying to warn Mathur over the CCTV footage and immediately exploded the bomb which was present in Mathur’s earpiece, thus killing him.
Arjun was completely dumbfounded, scared and nervous after seeing Mathur die in front of his eyes but Ankita persuaded him to keep the live coverage going. She told him not to negotiate with the caller as the police are already on their duty of tracing his location and they would catch him soon. Arjun’s ex-wife was also in danger as she was present in the location and the terrorist was continuously threatening a second explosion of the bridge if the minister doesn’t come and aplogize.
Now, a series of incidents evolved which ultimately lead Arjun fall into the well of distress. Arjun felt that the terrorist couldn’t be calmed down so easily. So, he decided to give in to his demands and called him to his studio where he promised the terrorist that the minister will also come there and apologize to him upfront. In fact, no minister was coming for the apology and Arjun had just framed this excuse to the terrorist all by himself just to buy some time. Seeing this foolish act of Arjun, Ankita got angry as this could hamper her reputation.
Ankita decided to teach Arjun a lesson for acting too smart. She had the key to Arjun’s past misdeeds on account of which he had lost his news anchor job and had undergone a divorce. So, she leaked all previous information which revealed that Arjun had accepted a bribe to cover the death of the construction workers in the bridge accident. It was further revealed that he had also cheated his ex-wife Saumya by stealing her news report and was thus able to bag the “Journalist of the Year” award which in fact was deserved by her.
Finally, the terrorist caller gets tracked down by the police and the tracker showed his location to be in a building which was nearby Arjun’s studio. But it was a trap! As the police tried to invade the building, the terrorist blew it up. This resulted in a tremendous explosive impact which even destroyed most of Arjun’s studio as it was located at close proximity. Arjun suffered severe injuries as a result of the explosion.
It was then revealed that the terrorist caller was no Raghubeer Mhata but was actually his son Anand Mhata (Soham Majumdar). Raghubeer was an accident victim who had died along with his three co-workers during the bridge accident. His son Anand was using his name and causing all the blasts in the city. The most interesting part was that Anand was making these calls from the same building where Arjun’s studio was and this was least expected to everybody!
Arjun got angry after learning this and summoned Anand to his news studio. As Anand arrived to meet Arjun, he revealed that he had also planted a bomb in the same building and intended to blow it up. As Anand revealed this, he got gunned down by the police for being a terrorist. All these incidents were being telecasted live over the news coverage which Arjun was hosting.
As Anand died from the gunshots, Arjun heard a heavy rumble and looked out of his studio window only to find that the Bandra-Worli Sea Bridge had undergone a second explosion and had completely collapsed. All the hostages who were trapped on it as well as Saumya, who was reporting from the location, were dead.
Now, Ankita leaked all remaining information related to Arjun’s misdeeds. She telecasted everything over her news channel about Arjun’s decision to not inform the police and instead exclusively cover this bridge explosion incident just to get back his position as the prime time news anchor. Arjun’s reputation was at stake! Some other news channel further spiced up this news and tagged Arjun as a “terrorist” and said that he was also involved in the bridge explosion incident. All plans had backfired for Arjun. His dream of regaining his position as the top news anchor had come to an abrupt end.
The final scene showed Arjun detonating the explosive which Anand had planted in his news studio building. The building exploded and collapsed. Arjun had just committed a mass suicide by killing himself and all the people in that building!
Dhamaka (2021) Trailer:
A Lesson To Be Learnt
Too much appetite for power and fame may cause nausea! That’s what happened with Arjun. Arjun, on the pursuit to regain his lost fame as a news anchor, did cross his journalistic limits by not informing the police and covering his conversation with the terrorist live on Ankita’s news channel. He thought fame was coming his way and he would soon regain his lost reputation. But destiny had something else in mind for him. He only ended up digging his own grave! I must say, this clearly depicts that “No one has ever got or will ever get anything before time or more than his or her luck”.
Awesome Performance By Kartik Aaryan!
Dhamaka is a one man’s show which Kartik Aaryan pulled through the end. Kartik Aaryan as the narcissist news anchor did more than just take phone calls from the terrorist. Kartik Aaryan’s amazing performance kept the suspense intact in every point of the movie. His immaculate acting skills and dialogue delivery amplified Madhvani’s explosive and thrilling screenplay. His character of Arjun does portray the real-life desperation and hunger that most journalists have for acquiring the top position in the news broadcasting industry. They sure can go up to any extent like Arjun, who made a deal with the terrorist without informing the police to cover his conversation live. Anything for some “spicy news”!
I must say, this was perhaps the best performance given by Kartik Aaryan in his acting career. He seems to have hooked the “big fish” in the Bollywood industry with his role in this blockbuster movie. Bollywood news reports reveal that Kartik was initially signed up for some films which included ”Dostana 2”, but he turned down all offers at the very last moment! I guess the awesome script of Dhamaka might have made him do so as he couldn’t resist taking up this explosive drama.
A Plot Worth Remembering!
This remake of the South Korean action thriller “The Terror Live” surely matched the intensity of the original movie. Dhamaka’s plot digs deep and explores the dark side of journalism and politics as it portrays how certain power-hungry journalists and politicians can take public welfare for granted. This must have been the reason for the rise of a terrorist like Anand who created havoc with multiple explosions within the city.
Let me move my focus to the terrorist Anand here. Anand was indeed a smart player as he was present in the same studio building where Arjun was and in fact, he was conducting all the explosions from there only! The police, politicians and even the media had no idea of his presence within the building. They were frantically searching for him throughout the city. The desperation and helplessness of the police, politicians and the media in tracking this smart and tactful terrorist made the screenplay even more intriguing. There are no slow patches or dragged sequences in the film. It’s all high-voltage suspense ready to shock you!
Great Cinematographic Effects
I must tell you, a cinematography involving explosion sequences and structural collapse scenes is not easy! A camerawork coupled with VFX, animation effects and precision camera angles did come into play while capturing the intense explosion sequences in the movie. Dhamaka is bundled with scenes of well executed explosions and precision wide-angled drone camera views which added to the intensity of the screenplay. Therefore, I must credit cinematographer Manu Anand for his cinematic masterwork in Dhamaka.
At certain points in Dhamaka, I found the dialogue delivery to be a bit irritating. The terrorist Anand who was disguised as his father Raghubeer over the live studio call, was constantly nagging Arjun to bring the minister to the studio and make him apologize. This dialogue of “making the minister apologize” was narrated by the terrorist several times over the live studio call throughout the movie which I believe could irritate even the most composed person in the audience. However, even if a bit irritating, this minor loophole in the dialogue delivery didn’t hamper the screenplay much.
Not As Action-Packed As “The Terror Live”!
Though Dhamaka is a remake of The Terror Live, after watching both I can tell that it is not as action-packed as the later one. I admit that Dhamaka is filled with thrills to its brim. However, I was a bit disappointed that Madhvani had chosen to skip the action-packed moments at the ending of Dhamaka which were present in The Terror Live. This to some extent made the movie lose grip on the intensity it was supposed to have otherwise. However, the thrill and suspense coupled with multiple blasts and mass killings made Dhamaka quite at par with the original South Korean movie.
The Climax: Why Arjun, Why?!
The ending of Dhamaka looked a bit abrupt and unreal to me. I did not quite understand why Arjun committed a mass suicide by detonating the bomb in his building. May be because he was tagged as a “terrorist” by some news channel and his career was about to be doomed. But if suicide was his only option, why kill the others as well? Was his bombing and destroying his news studio building with all the people in it really worth it? I believe, this makes him no different from the terrorist Anand himself. Madhvani might have wanted to show Arjun’s story as tragic but this act of “suicide terrorism” is in no way appreciated.
Apart from being the director of Dhamaka, Madhvani is also one of its writers as well as producers. The screenplay in Dhamaka is entirely his brainchild. The most fascinating fact about this movie is that Madhvani completed its entire filming within 10 days only! This was revealed by him in a press interview. Madhvani’s classy filmmaking style was coupled by a “360 degree shooting system”. Madhvani further reveled that this “360 degree system” involved about 3 to 10 cameras at a time while shooting the sequences. That’s how he was able to pack up the entire filming within such a short period.
Dhamaka blasts the screens with a heavy runtime of 1 hour and 45 minutes. But as I mentioned before, the film packed on suspense at every instance with some really tense moments shown inside Arjun’s news broadcasting studio. No slow patches or off the track scenes were shown. This was probably due to the sharp editing skills of Monisha Baldawa and Amit Karia who must have deleted any possible sloppy sequences that could have made the movie lose its flow. I must tell you that if you do not have the patience the watch an entire movie in a sitting, Dhamaka is surely going to make you do so! The first 30 minutes of the movie is sure to instill that level of suspense in you which will keep you glued through its end.
Besides Kartik Aaryan, supporting actors Amruta Subhash, Vishwajeet Pradhan and Mrunal Thakur gave strong performances and carried out their roles quite well. Amruta Subhash with her cynical journalist character of Arjun’s ex-boss Ankita made the screenplay quite intriguing. For sure, Anand was a stone-hearted terrorist as he blew up the Banda-Worli Sea Bride not once but twice killing hundreds of innocent people! But as far as the movie goes, the main terrorist in Arjun’s life was not Anand but his ex-boss Ankita. As the story proceeded, Ankita got into the habit of treating Arjun badly by blackmailing him for his past journalistic misdeeds. She went on an information leaking spree about Arjun’s misdeeds over her news channel. This led to Arjun being tagged as an “anti-national” by other news channels which ultimately led to his suicide. Arjun might have thought that his idea of live covering the Bandra-Worli Sea Bride bombing would enable him to make his comeback as the top news anchor in the broadcasting industry, but he did one foolish move! That was to strike a deal with Ankita for covering the incident, which was as good as striking a deal with the devil himself!
Dhamaka has some emotions attached as well as Arjun’s ex-wife Saumya, whom he used to love very much, got killed in the second explosion of the Bandra-Worli Sea Bride while she was reporting live from the location. The ending may be abrupt but is emotional too as Arjun, before bombing his studio building, left an apology voicemail to the deceased Saumya.
Overall, Dhamaka is worth the watch. If you crave for a drama which is bundled with ear-rumbling bomb explosions, gun action, gripping suspense and chilling thrills, then I suggest you go for Dhamaka. Dhamaka makes a “blast” over Netflix!
- Acting - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9.5/109.5/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 9/109/10
- Setting/Theme - 9/109/10
- Watchability - 9.5/109.5/10
- Rewatchability - 8.5/108.5/10