Dhamaka Movie Review: Kartik Aaryan delivers a dhamakedaar performance in Netflix film

Netflix’s new film, Dhamaka, starring Kartik Aaryan, Mrunal Thakur and Amruta Subhash, starts off with a blast but ends in a dud, says our Dhamaka Movie Review.

Movie Name: Dhamaka
Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Mrunal Thakur
Director: Ram Madhvani

Every now and then, we come across a film where an unassuming actor is entrusted with the task of pulling off a role that’s seemingly larger than their cinematic persona. More often than not, director Ram Madhvani is known to throw such googlies at us. Cue: Sonam Kapoor in Neerja. In Kartik Aaryan’s Dhamaka, Ram does it again. He picks a man infamous for his monologues, known for his unruly mane and a toothy smile endearing to many, and places him as his prime-time news anchor – Arjun Pathak – with terrifying bombs exploding on the Bandra Worli Sea Link in Mumbai in the backdrop – both figuratively and literally. And he manages to squeeze a dhamakedaar performance out of this Kartik Aaryan.

Kartik’s Arjun, at the start of this Netflix offering, is a radio anchor, demoted from his prime-time television anchor role despite a five-year successful run. He’s also sitting at his corner radio studio, in a whirl of smoke from his cigarette, going through a divorce draft, reminiscing the life that was. Eventually, we learn about the conflict and how his personal and professional life came to what it is today. He goes on air, starts off with some traffic update – the Sea Link will be shut between 9-10 am due to some construction work, so avoid it – and then he gets his first caller. A man, who identifies himself as Raghubeer Mhate, declares, “Main Sea Link udane wala hoon.

At this point, you know that Dhamaka is taking an A Wednesday (2008) turn, also available on Netflix, if you want to give it a watch. The events that follow are predictable, yet adrenaline-pumping. A common man, a labourer who actually helped build that bridge is now hellbent on destroying it, to get attention. To get an apology. Three workers were killed one rainy day in Mumbai while patch-repairing that bridge. The compensations promised never reached the families. The news never made it to prime time. Everything was forgotten. But not forgiven. Sarkar ko maafi mangni padegi, he says.

The angst of this common man is not hard to identify. You empathise with him, while you ask yourself if a blast, that puts the lives of other innocent people in danger, the way to do it. Ram Madhvani keeps the conflict very basic here, almost not challenging the viewers enough. In all this, there’s the negotiation of an “exclusive”. Arjun bargains his prime-time news anchor position claiming this as his big exclusive and promising the channel higher TRPs. But the game he plays is dirty, and even though he might want to wash his hands off, there’s blood there, the blood of those three labourers, that connects him intrinsically to the main plot.

Neerja was a true story, and despite creative liberties, we knew how it would have ended. Dhamaka ends on a dud and that’s a flaw we cannot overlook. In a hurry to wrap things up, Ram Madhvani takes the righteous path out, that’s not only easy, it is also borderline ridiculous.

Kartik Aaryan does his best as Arjun Pathak. Though he gets ample scope to deliver those monologues that have become synonymous with him, simply by virtue of being a news anchor, they are not grating. Amruta Subhash as Ankita, the boss, is flawless. She owns the screen while she’s on it. Mrunal Thakur as Soumya Mehra Pathak, Arjun’s estranged wife, gets one romantic montage at the start and an emotional tugging-at-your-heartstrings scene on the bomb-affected bridge. Just not enough to decide her impact. We needed more of her.

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