“We don’t report news, we sell it.”
It sums up Ankita, the brassy boss lady who runs TRTV and whose life is run by TRPs.
An uncaring government and dog-bite-dog TV reportage are on the mat in Ram Madhvani’s remake of the 2013 South Korean film The Terror Live.
Centering the message around a terrorist who’s blowing up Mumbai’s Sea Link and a demoted anchor who wants an exclusive story that’ll catapult him into the primetime slot again, could have made a nail-biting plot.
Add to it the immense respect I have for director Ram Madhvani. Let’s Talk, his first foray into feature filmmaking, the captivating story of Neerja, the short film This Bloody Line and Aarya, the slick Web Series, have built him an impressive resume.
Which is why the disappointment is commensurately immense. The first question you want to ask Ram is, why did you want to remake The Terror Live when it was no classic to begin with?
TV anchor Arjun Pathak (Kartik Aaryan) has a terrorist on the phone line selling him an exclusive for live coverage, there’s a bomb planted in his earpiece, there’s another exploding on the Sea Link and his ex-wife Saumya (Mrunal Thakur) is out there reporting live.
The minister responsible for the terrorist’s tale of woe won’t turn up to say ‘sorry’ on TV and Ankita, the ratings-crazy boss, is like an unbearable school marm caning Arjun’s knuckles. She makes Arjun Pathak repeat like a punished schoolkid, ‘An anchor is an actor who needs an audience who wants non-stop drama.’
A good premise for watchable tension?
The original too had a promising start but it had bombed before it ended. And that’s how this Kartik Aaryan starrer also climaxes: with a bomb blowing off the neighbouring building and nary a shudder out here at TRTV. Until a crane comes crashing in.
But all the relevant people and all the equipment are up and working, throwing questions and getting answers. And the TV anchor who’s at sixes and sevens before the camera seems better equipped to solve the mystery of the terrorist than the special squad that clucks around like a chicken about to be halaaled.
Did Madhvani pick this subject only because it was different? Unfortunately, a recent film titled Dial 100 also had Manoj Bajpayee in conversation with a phone caller as he remained cloistered in his office space. And the culprit was under his nose.
Dhamaka has a vastly different story and message but the ambience is somewhat similar. So there isn’t much uniqueness in the setting whether it’s a police control room (as in Dial 100) or a Radio/TV newsroom.
Watching Kartik Aaryan after a long spell could have been refreshing and he does make a valiant attempt. But there are moments when he seems overwhelmed by the chaos around.
Amruta Subhash performs well in the exaggerated role of the ball-crushing boss woman.
Mrunal Thakur has makeup and fresh lipstick even after being in a blast.
Honestly, like the minister in the film, it seemed like Madhvani decided to stay at home and let the mess sort itself out.
Watch Dhamaka Trailer here: