Khaleej Times - City Times

Kangana Ranaut is all fire and ice in Dhaakad

But the heart is sadly missing from this espionage saga, writes Ambica Sachin

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For an action thriller centered on an undercover secret agent whose expertise lies in cutting off the soul from the body (Jism se rooh alag karna business hai mera), Kangana Ranaut’s Dhaakad is surprising­ly bereft of much ‘rooh.’ And that’s not for lack of trying.

The National award-winning actress turns in a fabulous performanc­e as the clinical and cold-blooded Indian agent Agni, whose special ops involve sauntering into the villain’s lair with guns blazing, and single-handedly shooting/chopping down dozens of bad guys, leaving a veritable blood trail behind.

A mix between Kill Bill (more of this) Bourne Identity and Face/off (admittedly it is just one scene that involves a character peeling off her face) debutant director Razneesh Ghai and his team cannot be faulted for Dhaakad’s technical perfection that would leave any action geek enthralled.

But the screenplay unfortunat­ely doesn’t keep pace, even as we gape at a super agile and sleek Kangana, clad in some eye-popping, skin-baring, assassin street wear, kick and punch her way through the 2-hour plus espionage thriller showcasing an ice cold demeanor befitting a true blue Hollywood action star.

This is the kind of movie that the West is lauded for producing by the dozen but a genre that Bollywood hasn’t seen much of especially one that revolves around a female action star.

Arjun Rampal, as Agni’s nemesis Rudraveer, the kingpin of an internatio­nal sex traffickin­g ring that she has been entrusted with capturing, is menacing. One of Bollywood’s most underrated actors, Rampal is given enough screen space to shine as he growls and scowls his way from Bhopal to Budapest, despite being saddled with some clumsy dialogues.

No doubt he mouths some powerful lines like; ‘Destiny is the excuse of the weak ‘or ‘Hunger is the only religion’. But in the end, the script short changes him as it does the other central characters as if the screenplay writers realised they had overrun their time and needed to wrap up the proceeding­s quickly so that the leading lady could walk into the sunset.

Despite the movie being spectacula­rly mounted, it doesn’t leave an impact on your heart or soul, which is a shame considerin­g all the artists have turned in topnotch performanc­es.

Sharib Hashmi (of The Family Man fame) is wasted in a blink-and-miss role; while Divya Dutta as Rudraveer’s edgy paramour Rohini puts her heart into playing a hardcore prostitute with great élan but meets with a cavalier send off as does Saswata Chatterjee (Kahaani), the Ringmaster, with a vested interest in Agni.

There is a humdrum lullaby that is the key to unfolding the mystery behind Agni’s childhood trauma which is relived so often, its almost like the editing team forgot to do their due diligence on the chopping board.

Dhaakad is a slick production that Ghai seems to have modelled on the Tarantino school of film making. If only the soul had not been severed from the script, then this need not have been the movie’s calling card; Jism se rooh alag karna business hai iska.

Dhaakad is playing in UAE theatres now. It is rated 18+

ambica@khaleejtim­es.com

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