Film: Dhaakad (Running in Theatres)
Duration: 135 minutes
Director: Razneesh Ghai
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Arjun Rampal, Divya Dutta, Saswata Chatterjee, Sharib Hashmi
IANS Rating: ** and 1/2
Director Razneesh Ghai's 'Dhaakad' is an action-packed, stylishly mounted but twisted thriller that has the feel of a graphic novel.
Designed as an espionage thriller, the film revolves around Agni (Kangana Ranaut) an Indian field agent working for ITF, an obscure secret service organisation that deals with eliminating criminals.
The narrative sets off in Budapest, Central Europe, where the first scene seems to be straight out of a videogame sequence. Agni modelled as a femme fatale indulges in high-octane action sequences that range from a dare-devil motorcycle ride to a gun battle which seamlessly fuses into fencing. Suddenly, her handler (Saswata Chatterjee) instructs her over wireless-earphones, "mission compromised, abort mission."
In her attempt to escape from the location she lands up duelling with her attackers, not giving up so easily and against the wishes of her handlers she eliminates her attackers.
Instead of admonishing her for her defiance, her handler assigns her another assignment this time in Bhopal to bring Rudraveer (Arjun Rampal) and Rohini (Divya Dutta) to book, the duo indulges in coal smuggling and trafficking of women. Agni reluctantly accepts the assignment.
In Bhopal, she is asked to get in touch with Fazal (Sharib Hashmi) who would assist her in her endeavour. The situation turns bleak when Fazal is killed and his daughter goes missing.
Bogged with emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for an intriguing and riveting psychological drama concerning childhood trauma, the narrative changes course but not missing its action beat.
With her sleek get-up, Kangana Ranaut makes for a seductive secret agent who is energetic and agile. She poses like a model and pummels her opponents like a martial arts expert. She makes a perfect agent with her heart in the "right" place. She is aptly supported by Divya Dutta as the quirky Rohini. Together they sparkle on-screen.
Arjun Rampal lacks lustre as Rudraveer and Saswata Chatterjee as the handler is stereotypical and bland.
The story is definitely convoluted and the plot takes many cinematic liberties. The screenplay meanders and at every stage you keep wondering, why and how? For example, mid-narrative you wonder; why Agni goes to church? Or, how did she overpower the two blondes and bound them to the chair.
The complicated twists and turns are perfunctorily staged to ensure there is a good dose of high-octane action sequences. These sequences are astutely choreographed and appealing but they do not add anything concrete to the storytelling.
But what keeps you mesmerised are cinematographer Tetsuo Nagata's fine camera work and editor Rameshwar S. Bhagat's razor fine edits. The most impressive aspect throughout the film is the way the camera is used during intense moments. The frames are artistically mounted and appear picture perfect.
By the end, 'Dhaakad' seems to contain elements from various Hollywood films put together.