Directed by Sanjay Gadhvi, Dhoom was a Hollywood-ised take on the action-thriller genre married with the Bollywood tadka, glamour and catchy music
Dhoom, the 2004 release that trumped expectations of all trade pundits to become a box office success, gave a new direction to Hindi cinema. Yash Raj Films, that conventionally produced romances and family dramas over the years, ventured into the action-thriller space with elan. Directed by Sanjay Gadhvi, Dhoom was an underdog at the time of its release and featured a cast which had no A-listers at all - Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham, Uday Chopra, Esha Deol and Rimi Sen.
The fact that Dhoom came without any hype or hoopla turned out to be its foremost advantage. It helped people appreciate for what it was, sans any humungous expectations. Even as a story, Dhoom offered nothing out of the box. At best, it was a tale of a cop trying to catch a group of biker thieves. However, within its familiar template, Dhoom managed to be cool without trying too hard and also gave the average viewer what he desired - paisa vasool entertainment.
In terms of writing, Dhoom freed itself from the flab of every second mainstream film - romance and drama were kept to a basic minimum. Until then, Hindi cinema barely made action films that stayed true to the genre on the whole. It had a screenplay where every key action sequence was followed by a comedy scene and a song. The actors, mostly non-stars, never tried to rise above the script. The film, at most points, approached the story with a lightness and never took itself too seriously.
The action sequences, minus CGI or VFX, are largely relatable and each of the characters appear equally vulnerable in the critical junctures. Dhoom, within its two hour runtime, remains focused and makes for ideal pop-corn viewing. Sure, it is made at a reasonably shoestring budget and is slightly patchy on the technical front, but it gets its storytelling basics right. Aditya Chopra’s story and Vijay Krishna Acharya’s screenplay was a perfect match.
Abhishek Bachchan played a cop who never wore his uniform on most occasions and was accompained by a small-time robber Ali (Uday Chopra), his sidekick. Thankfully, though John Abraham is introduced as an antagonist, there’s no sob story to justify his motive as a robber. He’s a criminal who’s in it for the money - John Abraham as the no-nonsense Kabir gave us a villain whom we didn’t mind rooting for. Abhishek even has a dialogue that says, ‘If not for his path, we may have even been best friends.’
Uday Chopra may get all the flak today for his inability to be a good actor but he looked extremely believable as the buffonish Ali who’s desperate for a girlfriend. Dhoom is clear that its leading women are here to showcase their glamour avatars and ensure some comic relief. Rimi Sen is a good distraction from the intense plot in the first hour while Esha Deol gets the better role as Sheena, who’s part of the rogue-robber gang.
Any discussion on Dhoom is incomplete without its music and Pritam’s soundtrack gave the film a push prior to its release. The album is a musical well that keeps giving. Shikdum is flirty and sensuous while Dilbara is quite casual and still remains very hummable. Salaame is the perfect energetic number that sets the tone for an energetic finale and Sunidhi’s spirited rendition gave us an iconic title track like Dhoom Machale.
Dhoom is still among the favourite among many viewers for a simple reason - it gave all of its characters its due. In Dhoom 2 and Dhoom 3, the balance had tilted towards the larger-than-life robbers with Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra having nothing meaty to do. While Dhoom worked as a film, the other instalments -starring Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan - became star vehicles and paid a price for the same reason.
(Dhoom is streaming on Amazon Prime Video)