Almost 18 years ago, a company named Cineyug produced Arjun with Sunny Deol in the lead.
Arjun was the story of an unemployed urban youth who is repeatedly confronted with a hostile and corrupt environment. Just when he thinks he has finally found his ray of hope, Arjun's idealism is ruthlessly shattered by the very man he worships.
Arjun unleashed a wave of anti-establishment films that glorified an individual's fight against a morally depraved system, usually represented by one unimaginably black antagonist.
Now, Cineyug has made Dum, which is basically another variation of the Arjun formula. Only, it is much less effective.
To begin with, there is no novelty in this story. Uday Shinde (Vivek Oberoi) is preparing himself to become a police officer when he accidentally gets into a spat with a deranged cop called Shankar (Atul Kulkarni). Shankar doesn't seem to be answerable to anyone and is a law unto himself.
In fact, the upright officer who tries to be Uday's guiding light (Mukesh Rishi) helplessly tells his protégée to steer clear of Shankar till he clears his enrollment exam.
The problem is that Shankar is now obsessed with the guy who had the temerity to beat him up in public and hence chases Uday with a vengeance. The entire film becomes a cat-and-mouse game between the two adversaries. There is little else to the plot except their foolish attempts at one-upmanship.
E Niwas took over Dum after the sudden demise of co-producer Bunty Soorma, the film's original director. Obviously, his effort lacks the bite he displayed in his debut Shool, because there, the hero was faced with far more realistic and complex issues.
The most disturbing aspect about films like Dum is the fact that the so-called righteous hero invariably uses unlawful means to fulfil his noble end. The voice of reason is conspicuous by its absence and if at all it exists, it is too weak to make itself heard.
The hero's triumph invariably conveys the misleading message that might is right, not right is right.
The film's first half does have some interesting moments and there is an element of anticipation. Some scenes have been built up quite skillfully, particularly the sequence where Shankar unwittingly hitches a ride with Uday.
The cinematography seems to be uneven with light variations in some scenes. All the songs are out of place and none pleasing to the ears. The item number Babuji is typically vulgar and obviously designed for the frontbenchers. This is one soundtrack Sandeep Chowta definitely should not be proud of.
Dum also suffers on the count that except Uday and Shankar, none of the other characters have any significant role to play. Diya Mirza, who plays Uday's girlfriend, has the predictable half-baked, two-song part.
But Sushant Singh who portrays his loyal friend Mohan is impressive even in a peripheral role. Other supporting actors like Mukesh Rishi, Govind Namdeo and Yashpal Sharma are lacklustre simply because none of their characters carry any conviction.
Even the lead actors have absolutely nothing new to offer. Atul Kulkarni is an immensely talented actor, but what could he possibly do with such a clichéd, one-dimensional role?
Vivek Oberoi looks miscast as Uday. One cannot picture anyone except Sunny Deol (in his younger days) essaying this part. Also, Uday lacks the inherent innocence that made Arjun Malvankar a likeable hero.
Oberoi must have worked hard for this role, building up his body to look like a macho hero. He does exude a great deal of sincerity. Unfortunately, his effort is wasted in a film that actually has very little dum.