There is one genuinely giggly moment in Total Dhamaal. It involves some cars, a train, a railway tunnel and lots of silliness. But such unfettered frivolity is barely there in the over two hour long slog of a film.
The blueprint is straight out of the first in the series— Dhamaal— which itself owes its existence to It’s a Mad Mad Mad World . There’s not much by way of plot. The one line script features a bunch of loonies who end up in a zoo in search of some hidden cash. The film starts by setting each one of them up for us, moves on to showing us their adventures and the characters they encounter in the chase for the lucre and ends in the finale in the zoo itself.
Many strange vehicles get deployed on the way—a two-sided, remote-controlled car, another that almost turns into a boat, a helicopter made of autorickshaw engine, a parachute. Why there’s even Jackie “Bhidu” Shroff voice for the GPS system! Many cars crash, several rounds of bullets get fired.
- Director: Indra Kumar
- Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Javed Jaffrey, Sanjay Mishra, Pitobash, Mahesh Manjrekar, Boman Irani
- Runtime: 129.37 minutes
- Storyline: A bunch of loonies end up in a zoo in search of some hidden cash
But much of the action in Total Dhamaal is just a series of tepid gags strung together. The exchanges between characters are so deliberately about retorts and comebacks that it becomes a bore beyond a point. There is a consciously low-brow feel, old-fashioned slapstick of the “pants unexpectedly falling down” kinds, brazen stereotyping—from a nariyal-paani drinking, mundu-wearing “South Indian” to a meek Gujarati, a shrewish Marathi to a muffler-loving Bengali—and a dig too many at wives and domestic helps and assertive women who ostensibly do nothing but make men miserable.
All the while the actors seem to be on a lark even as the film does injustice to their talent. The one noteworthy thing about the film is how the animals (all fake ones, of course) in the zoo are more humane and sensible than the humans themselves. Isn’t it a truism anyhow? Though there many attempts to please the powers that be—Gujaratis dominating world from Gandhi to now—-the funniest bit is the unintended takedown of demonetisation. The loot everyone is chasing is the kala dhan (black money) that has come riding on demonetisation itself, the commission received for illegal conversion of old notes for new. But wasn’t it brought in to sweep corruption away? A lame assertion is made that the leadership wanted to clean things up but “hum nahin sudhrenge”. Easy excuse!