Kangana’s versatility as a performer is on full display, but this campy action-thriller remains glum and superficial till the very end

Kangana’s versatility as a performer is on full display, but this campy action-thriller remains glum and superficial till the very end

Mounted like a showreel of Kangana Ranaut’s versatility, this action-thriller is more style than substance. When a face that could melt a hundred hearts gets into the business of separating bodies from souls, it deserves attention. Living up to the title, Kangana consistently inspires awe in action sequences and her silence evokes curiosity as she walks into a space that is usually meant for hulks like John Abraham and Vidyut Jammwal.

However, director Razneesh ‘Razy’ Ghai dashes the hope that his star performer raises. He has manufactured a set of ‘scenes’ but there is only a flimsy storyline in between. It seems the makers are holding placards for the audience: here is the spellbinding entry of the protagonist, look at the scene to establish the brutal nature of the villain, here comes the tear-inducing sacrifice of the sidekick… and so on.

Ghai tries to keep us hooked with mood-altering lights, pumps a lot of bullets and blood in action set pieces, and even employs child artists in violent scenes to manipulate the audience, but still fails to bring us anywhere close to the edge of our seats.

It reminds one of the campy Hollywood and Korean action thrillers where blood and gore have to be seen to be believed; where the heroine sings in the den of the villain even if she is shown to be a hard nut to crack, and where the antagonist reaches the top storey of a high-rise by the climax. Closer home, director Sanjay Gupta used to dish out this delirious stuff where violence is normalised and the protagonist is bulletproof.

Here, Kangana plays one such hero called Agent Agni. Grappling with memories of her violent childhood, Agni aka Dragonfly has emerged as a force that ensures no other girl has to go through hell. When her handler (Shashwata Mukherjee) assigns her the mission to extract Rudraveer (Arjun Rampal), a cold-blooded animal who operates in coal mines and deals in human trafficking, Agni finds there is more to this murky world than meets the eye.

However, Ghai paints a sketchy detail of Rudraveer and his partner in crime Rohini (Divya Dutta). The film suggests that they are products of the same system that they are fighting against, but the thought remains only on paper. The showdown between Agni and Rohini towards the end of the second half is perhaps the only scene where you feel some churning in the gut. In a remarkable display of histrionics, Divya wins it hands down.

Usually, such pulpy content works on inherent humour in storytelling, but Ghai chooses to keep it glum and superficial. The smile surfaces only when Agni’s situation in the film, inadvertently, starts reminding us of Kangana’s concerns in real life.

In the absence of a cogent character arc, Arjun seems like a model from a fashion show who lost the way from the ramp and reached the jungles of central India. He is made to sound husky, but the move only stretches our ears. Even trusted performers like Shashwata and Sharib Hashmi fail to make us invest in the proceedings.

Perhaps, the only way to endure Dhakaad is to watch it as a celebration of Kangana’s talent. We always knew that she could emote, but here she shows that she can taste blood as well. The star fires guns and kicks butts with the same amount of conviction she displays while adorning the skimpiest of dresses. The film is one such outfit!

Dhaakad is currently running in theatres

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