There are a few things one can justifiably expect when going to see a Bollywood film. Generally speaking, they’re an onslaught of extravagant excess, musical numbers, bright colours and brilliant costumes. Double Dhamaal, the sequel to 2007s Dhamaal, ticks all these boxes and more as it picks up where the last film left off, following the adventures of Adi (Warsi), Roy (Deshmukh), Manav (Jaaferi) and Boman (Chaudhary), four dim-witted, money obsessed jokers as they attempt to get rich without really trying. Incidentally, Dhamaal translates to somewhere between fun, chaos and mischief, and this film has all of those in spades.
At the start of the film it seems everything has worked out pretty well for the boys. They wake up after an obvious night of hedonism in a luxury hotel suite, empty magnums of Champagne and the aftermath of a Perfume style orgy covering every inch of the screen. The boys wake up and immediately launch into a song celebrating the brilliance of having loadsamoney, in the chorus imploring us all to “chill out”. No hint of irony in sight.
However, this celebrity excess is revealed to be all a dream, and in truth the boys are just where we left them at the end of Dhamaal, waiting by the side of the road where they met a car crash victim who told them of a huge fortune buried underneath a giant W in Goa. Combine this with the idea that they have been waiting FOUR YEARS at the side of the road, and the film seems like a cross between It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Waiting For Godot.
Needless to say, the gang decide not to rest on their laurels and venture forth to make their fortune once again through the dastardly art of the con! Their first swindle, a hilarious skit involving many men getting hit over the head with a frying pan, sets the tone of the next two hours and eighteen minutes, and leads the gang to discover their rival from the last film, Inspector Kabir (Dutt), driving a swanky car and going into a sparkling high rise building. No longer a copper, Kabir is now a rich businessman, and the boys set out to blackmail him in order to achieve their dreams. However, what they don’t know is that Kabir is double-bluffing them, using the boys in order to make a quick buck himself and get outta dodge. Once you throw in Kabir’s business rival Jonny Bonzela into the mix, the whole plot gets a little tough to follow. However, the Benny Hill-esque charm exhibited early on is the film’s real strength. Other displays of this kind of comedy are great and are matched by a frenetic, almost cartoonish directing style, full of fast motion sequences and some sharp, snappy editing.
Were the film to stick to this slapstick, physical comedy at which the lead four actors are particularly adept, the end result would be much better. However, there are several moments when the film goes for a cruder laugh which more often than not falls flat. The gang dipping chips into a gaping shotgun wound thinking it’s ketchup? Adi diving in to the sea to save a drowning man, only to steal his watch and leave him floundering? Not cool Bollywood, not cool. There’s also a very suspect period in which Roy blacks up, dons an afro and affects a Hindi-Jamaican accent, which is at best misguided and at worst offensive (Cries of “IT’S JUST A JOKE!” from Frankie Boyle fans – ok, maybe it was, but it wasn’t a good one). However, there is a bit where a gorilla kicks a man in the nuts, which is funny in any language.
Essentially, this film is harmless popcorn fodder, with enough laughs to keep you entertained throughout (and an intermission half way through for those of you who can’t take another song and dance number). However, its convoluted plot is worse than Inception at times, and the nature of the film being the second in a trilogy denies us any resolution. Let’s hope that Total Dhamaal, the final part, will tie up any loose ends, as a more coherent narrative could have made this film a cult comedy classic.