There are drug movies and then there are movies about drugs. The difference may not be clear at first but if you think about it, there are two sides to the drug trade - buyers and sellers.
As a part of a Drug Free America, I don’t have much patience for drug movies, those films that try to capture the experience of getting high. Acid films are all psychadelic indulgence; weed films tend towards monotonous gags about weed; coke films are as melodramatic and hyper as the people who use it... Can we ever replicate the full sense experience of being high on a two dimensional screen? From time to time, perhaps, but do people want to view it? Requiem for a Dream is an amazing piece of cinema but once was enough.
Now, films on the drug trade are a different story. There is no room for the artsy inner monologue of a heroin addict in a film on the drug trade - cops have dealers to bust; dealers have product to sell; and buyers are buying. Films on the drug trade are really films about capitalism, justice, and who has the right to police. Are we all just Economic Wo/man who can buy or sell what he (or she) pleases without concern for family and community? Where is the line between illegal and immoral?
Even documentaries like Cocaine Cowboys have a morbid pull for me. We follow the entrepreneurs who stumble across a cash making scheme, only to see them blaze out spectacularly - foiled either by their wares or by greed or both. Are the police who chase them interested in wiping drugs from the community or only in asserting their authority? Maybe the police are in on the game...
It’s against this background that I hope we'll find Dum Maaro Dum. The 1970 film Hare Rama Hare Krishna, from which DMD takes its title, had a firm grasp on its morality. Anything other than marriage that took young women away from their families was immoral and if that “something” was pure selfish pleasure represented by (white) hippies and marijuana, then it was doubly so. Interestingly, Dum Maaro Dum seems to have traded this firm morality for something much more along the lines of the cops-and-robbers adrenaline of The French Connection.
The plot of Dum Maaro Dum is going to follow a handful of people through their dealings with the invisible hand of the Goan drug market - ACP Vishnu Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan) is chasing a drug baron; Laurie (Prateik Babbar) is tempted by the easy money of the drug trade; DJ Joki (Rana Daggubati) has been scarred by drugs; Lorsa Biscuta (Aditya Pancholi) is an “interested” businessman; and Zoe (Bipasha Basu) is the global, cynical audience stand-in.
If the film can avoid both preachy just-say-no moralism and the temptation to indulge in the herogiri that sunk Game, then we're going to be in for a treat.
Here are some reasons I'm looking forward to Dum Maaro Dum:
1. Prateik Babbar is a rising star.
Prateik Babbar doesn’t need to take crap roles. He has carefully selected roles in risky and offbeat projects like Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Dhobi Ghaat - the fact that he picked Dum Maaro Dum means that this film has something unique going for it.
2. Rana Daggubati and Bipasha Basu are hot.
While cricket dominated the airwaves and media for the last few weeks, one of the real (reel?) highlights for me was Rana Dagubatti’s hilarious media quips (as in Bipasha helped with his lip movements... for speaking Hindi.) And we all know I love Bipasha Basu. If the trailer for “Te Amo” is any basis, their chemistry should be smokin’.
3. A Rohan Sippy production...
Rohan Sippy marries gritty and filmi really well, which is exactly what Dum Maaro Dum needs. Think of Ritesh Deshmukh and Abhishek on that rooftop in Bluffmaster - the heightened emotions of a soapy melodrama in common surroundings. Think of his other productions - Taxi No. 9211, which marries gritty and filmi in John Abraham and Nana Patekar. Or Chandni Chowk to China, which I ADORED, had a nice rough around the edges quality that contrasted nicely (I thought) with Nikhil Advani’s filmi direction.
(Basically, this is a great cast!)
But that’s just me... why not watch the trailer and let me know what you think!