Dhada

It seems to have been a very long time since the last Telugu film release here in Melbourne, so we were quite delighted to hear that Dhada was showing this weekend. Despite the negative reports, we headed in to the city for another ‘adventure without subtitles’.

The film opens with a parkour chase sequence across, over, around, through and between various buildings, bridges and major highways. It’s very well done with great cinematography and editing, and is an excellent introduction to Vishwa (Naga Chaitanya). He’s just graduating from college in some unspecified city which we think might be supposed to be in the USA, or possibly Russia. It’s hard to tell from the accents of the English speaking cast who seem to be mainly of Eastern European origin but since the cops are wearing US style cardboard badges and US flags we’re going to go with the States.

Vishwa lives with his elder brother Rajiv and Rajiv’s wife Preethi.  He fancies himself as a modern day hero, and cannot help rescuing a tearful girl running from a pack of thugs. In the course of the rescue he manages to set free another 99 girls who were rather conveniently loaded in trucks in the same car park. This doesn’t endear him to local mafia don RD (a wonderfully over the top Rahul Dev), who was just about to close a deal selling the girls (all 100 medically certified virgins) on to white slaver Kelly Dorjee (almost his equal in the over the top evil stakes).

Around the same time Vishwa has spotted, and instantly fallen in love with, Ria the daughter of a millionaire (Mukesh Rishi) who doesn’t have any time for her. She spends her days on a chaise longue in the wine cellar surrounded by bad polystyrene replicas of classical sculpture, either watching old 8mm film of herself and her mother or developing pictures she has taken of parents and their children, and generally feeling sorry for herself. The mother was played by the excellent Satya Krishnan and it was such a shame she only had a tiny role.

Vishwa has a classy idea of a date which involves taking Ria out on the back of a motorbike, stealing a bottle of wine along the way (drinking and driving and no helmets– tsk tsk!), to a a bare knuckle fight (which judging by the spectators’ apparel seems to occur some time in the early part of last century) and finally to a club based in a ship. Strangely they seem to travel back in time again when a bunch of 1930’s styled shoe shine boys arrive aboard the Titanic styled set to join in the song and dance number, the seriously catchy ‘Telugu Bengali English Marathi’. It was an odd blend, especially with the random and bored looking audience including one beaming Sikh guy. Vishwa and Ria do lots of flirting before he drops her back to her dull party, and her fiancé, two minutes before her stated deadline. Ah yes – the fly in the ointment is that Ria’s father has promised her to Amit, a local businessman with a commitment to shimmery suits, who isn’t impressed at all with Vishwa.

There are more chases and excellent fight scenes as RD’s younger brother closes in on Vishwa seeking revenge for their lost millions in the white slave trade. There is the obligatory twist in the tale as Rajiv reveals his entanglement in the mafia web. There is an excellent flashback scene to the two boys growing up, and we learn that Vishwa has always protected his big brother, sometimes in spectacular fashion.  Ria becomes a hostage and Kajal was good at being unconscious. It’s all up to Vishwa to save the day – can you ever doubt that he will? Would a man lacking self confidence wear so much pink?

The film looks fantastic and the direction is confident and visually accomplished. The styling is good and both Chaitanya and Kajal look the part. Except one of the hairdressers seems to have a grudge against Kajal and gave her an absolutely terrible fringe. In fact, we suspect we have seen that wig before, when it appeared as The Wig in Shakti. She looks much better in her emo rock-chick look, or Aishwarya Rai wannabe avatar, although losing the blue contacts would have been even better. Vishwa’s fantasy versions of Ria in one song also included Foreman Ria (in hard hat and high-vis overalls), Police Ria and Skanky Carwash Ria so her wardrobe team were kept busy. Chaitanya has a wonderful collection of slightly sparkling superhero and James Bond T-shirts which we were delighted to see he felt were entirely appropriate for day wear.

Chaitanya has developed as an actor, and it’s obvious he has worked hard and really improved his dancing. He handled the demanding action sequences well, and the multiple camera angles and slo-mo replays meant he had to deliver in those scenes or they wouldn’t have worked at all. He does look rather embarrassed by a few of his outfits, but by the time we get to the lilac satin band-leader costume he seems to have become resigned to his fate. The lurid checked lunghi in the final song doesn’t faze him at all but he seems to suffer from Thrust Reluctance.

He’s also committed to the wet look throughout the film, indulging in a number of activities guaranteed to keep him slightly soggy.

Rahul Dev is excellent as the evil RD and his execution of a rival involving a prosthetic leg was rather special. Although Kelly Dorjee doesn’t turn up quite as often he makes up for it by some inspired sneering behind his ever present sunglasses.

But that’s all the good stuff.  The story is weak and the white slave trade link pathetic. The comedy with Brahmi, Ali and various others all falls very flat and mainly involves racist and sexist jokes. It’s all unnecessary and not even remotely funny. Venu Madhav is mildly amusing but totally unnecessary as is MS Narayana. The pace of the first half is too slow as time is spent on laborious set-ups and establishing characters who lacked substance or who disappeared. There were silly errors; in the Super 8 film of baby Ria and her mother, there is someone in shot using a digital video camera. And don’t get us started on Hair Continuity – it was all over the place (literally).

Chaitanya is more amusing in some lighter moments than any of the ‘comedians’ and those scenes suited the masala action style of the film much better. Dhada is style over substance. But it’s worth a watch for the well executed fight scenes and nicely picturised songs from a reasonably appealing soundtrack. Not a great film, but not a terrible one. And if you take nothing else away from Dhada, the phrase ‘Smoking is injurious to health’ became even more ominous.

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18 thoughts on “Dhada

  1. I’m probably going to see this during the coming week, so I didn’t read your review. Can you please just tell me what the violence/gross stuff quotient is? I’m willing to live with stupid and silly, but not the other. Also, are the songs and dances passable or bad?

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    • The songs and the picturisations were fun and colourful. To be more detailed about the action – It’s gory in that there is a lot of slow motion blood spatter and people getting beaten to a pulp, lots of shootings and a couple of knife fights.

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      • Thanks! Looks one for me to avoid, then, or at least not regret if I don’t get a chance to watch it. This and Kandireega with Ram are both playing where I’ll be going next week. I don’t know if I’ll have time to watch both, so I’ll see what happens.

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      • Hi mm

        If you do get to see Kandireega let us know what you think. That didn’t play here, so we had no opportunity to even decide between the two :)

        Heather

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  2. This is playing in my town today but conflicts with a long-scheduled podcast recording session on the important topic of filmi anipals! I probably would have gone if I’d had time, but I’m glad to know I’m not missing much that youtube can’t provide.

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    • Hey Beth :) I think you would enjoy the timeslipping but the highlights really are the songs and the action bits. And maybe Rahul Dev’s nose which was functioning as a sundial in some scenes. But save yourself for Mahesh in Dookudu ;) Temple

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    • Hi Beth,

      I would say the songs and the fight scenes are definitely the best bits, and those will all pop up on Youtube eventually.

      The ‘I can be more evil than you’ competition between Rahul Dev and Kelly Dorjee is enjoyable though :)
      but DVD is fine – not necessarily a big screen movie
      Heather

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  3. Such a pleasurable read, as always! Even if it’s for a movie I will probably never watch (Chaitugly is far from becoming one of my favourite heroes, and busty Kajal is still trying unsuccessfully to inch her way into my heart). But loved reading your thoughts on it nonetheless, in fact pretty sure I was more entertatined by this review than I would have been by seeing the movie. :)

    So, many thanks girls, and to the movie, no thanks :D

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    • Thanks Dolce,

      But really he is much better in this than YMC – which is the only other film I’ve seen him in. I did notice an improvement. And it just means you have more time to concentrate on other things like the decor and backing dancers.
      In a Bunny movie for example I have no idea who else is even on screen with him let alone what the set actually looks like )
      And it’s worth looking out for the dancers in this – there were a couple of the girls in particular who were really out of place!

      Heather

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  4. That bit about Chaitugly being “resigned to his fate” and suffering from “Thrust Reluctance” had me lol-ing! As you might guess from the nickname, he’s not someone I’d sit through an unsubtitled movie for, but I might check this out when it’s released on DVD – in the right mood it sounds like I might be supremely entertained by all the WTFery :-)

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    • I think you’re both a bit harsh on Chaitanya – I mean, you have seen Mimoh (sorry, he’s calling himself Maha Akshay now) Chakraborthy haven’t you? He resets the Ugly-O-Meter so radically that it may change your whole world view :D I don’t find Chaitanya particularly attractive, as he looks like he is about 12, but he has come a long way in terms of performing (especially dancing). He really did pretty well at the action stuff and those scenes are a highlight – they look great & the camera work is brilliant. Kajal always seems to give a reasonable effort regardless of her ability and has made spazzy uncoordinated enthusiasm her signature dance style. We didn’t mention – she did some pretend figure skating which you might enjoy. The wardrobe for the backing dancers is a sight to behold too. Drink lots and have the FF at the ready :) Temple

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    • Hi Larissa,

      He wouldn’t have been my first choice either, but I really was surprised at how much he has improved. And while he’s not attractive at all he was pretty good in the action scenes :)

      Worth a watch on DVD I’d say, but definitely with the FF button ready :)
      Heather

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      • I know I’m being harsh on him, poor guy! But he didn’t make a good first impression in YMC (but then I watched VTV first and loved it so maybe he never stood a chance). I’m not adverse to watching a movie with him in it, I just wouldn’t watch it unsubtitled. I’ll for sure watch 100% Love because I’m a big Tamannaah fan. And as for Dhada, well you had me at “pretend figure skating” :-D

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      • :D
        I really didn’t like YMC at all. I much prefered VTV and thought the change of ending totally ruined any chance of me ever liking the Telugu version.
        I missed 100% Love in the cinema so I’ll definitely have a look at the DVD since Temple has told me about it. But I’m still not sold at all on Chaitanya as a hero!

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  5. lol! what a fun fun read this ees! im still reeling from after effects of Aarakshan but even then this film sounds terrible.
    Ironically I havent seen a single movie of Chaitanya. I skipped YMC conveniently because i’d seen VTV first & his lil cameo in that made it clear which way my opinion on him was headed. Then with 100% love his appeal increased so much that I thought I was being harsh & maybe I should give him a chance. (Im yet to see it but now I have my doubts again) So whats the deal with him? Is it him or depends on the character he plays? maybe he should leave the heroism to daddy dearest and stick to bubblegummy stuff.
    as for Kajal (whom I so adored in MD) she slowly inching her way to the top of my I-cant-tolerate-her list

    All said – Keep it up ladies, another fine stroke.. Loved the read!

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    • Hi Pooja. I hated VTV and couldn’t finish it so didn’t bother with YMC. I did see 100% Love and quite liked it, but more for Tamannaah getting to play a fairly sensible heroine for a change. Chaitanya was adequate in that, and tried hard to make the most of his unpleasant character, but overall I think he should stick to the action genre. He is physically capable of being convincing in those scenes and it takes less subtlety in the acting. His dancing is way better in Dhada than in 100% Love. As for Kajal – I’d take her over Taapsee any day! Cheers, Temple

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    • Hi Pooja,
      Skipping YMC was a sound plan – wish I’d done that! But at least I could see an improvement in his acting here.
      He’s unlikely to become a favourite of mine – and that’s not just because of his looks. There are a number of actors I don’t find physically attractive at all, but they are good enough actors to be very watchable in whatever role they happen to play. I’m not sure Chaitanya will achieve that, but will give him the benefit of the doubt for a while longer. He is very young so there is time for him to develop that charisma and appeal. I think picking and choosing which of his films to see is the best way to go for now – but I’d say no to bubblegum. A tense thriller with lots of action would be my pick for him too, and skip the romance!
      Heather

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  6. Hi, I saw Kandireega last night, mainly because it got a 3/5 from Jeevi at Idlebrain reviews. It was entertaining enough, though the fights were excessively violent for what was meant to be essentially a comedy film. Started with some obvious Ready references, and by the end I realized it had quite a Ready hangover in its overall structure and approach. The second half was quite funny, so that the sudden shift to bloody fighting was quite jarring.

    Sonu Sood looks more and more like Amitabh Bachchan in his 30’s every day, to the point of it being highly distracting. Also, I had a hard time accepting him in his blushing, simpering, sighingly in love avatar — not because he didn’t act well, but just because it was so unexpected.

    So overall, as I said, entertaining enough, especially if you close your eyes during the bloody parts, as I did in the second half. But I definitely felt by the end that I must have lost at least 30 points off of my IQ. :)

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