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Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal

Rating: 1

November 23, 2007

Cast: John Abraham, Bipasha Basu, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani

Director: Vivek Agnihotri

Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat, Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is not a sports film. It’s contrived and it’s predictable and it’s an unexcitinge bat — okay, right off the ball if you like — director Vivek Agnihotri’s , dull drama about a bunch of Southall-based football enthusiasts who play the sport not because they enjoy it, but because it seems like the right thing to do, seeing that their football club might be converted into a shopping mall since their team hasn’t won a match in, what, 20 years.

A motley group of working-class British Asians, the team is led by kebab-shop owner Arshad Warsi who coaxes disillusioned former player Boman Irani into coaching their team.

There’s no chance of them scoring any goals however, until star player John Abraham joins the team, which he does. Now problem is, Arshad and John can’t stand the sight of each other, and the team isn’t exactly playing like a team. So it’s up to the coach now to bring the team together, to show them what they’re really playing for…

Let me guess, you’re thinking Chak De India, right? Well, forget it… Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal has neither drama nor nail-biting tension, the football scenes are indifferently shot, and there’s nothing about the plot that you couldn’t predict ten minutes into the film.

There are some unwritten rules as far as sports films are concerned — the sports scenes need to be dramatic and exciting and even though you know the underdog’s going to win in the end, you’ve got to root for them because they’ve won your heart. As far as Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is concerned, you feel no such loyalty towards the underdogs in this film because they’ve done nothing to win your affection — in fact they’re positively annoying, they can’t kick a ball to save their lives, they talk to each other like they’re rattling off lines from some old-fashioned, melodramatic Hindi film, and most importantly, never once do you get the feeling that any one of them actually loves the game. They don’t deserve to win!

It’s the sheer ridiculousness of this film that’s possibly the only thing that goes in its favour — whether it’s the bust-heaving starlet who turns up for an item song, or the embarrassing amateurish drunken scene between Arshad and John forced to share a room while on a weekend getaway, or then that scene in which the football club owner dies in a car ten minutes into the film…if only you were as lucky as him!

The stupidity quotient of this film reaches its crescendo in the climax when one character chances upon the perfect way to sabotage the underdog team’s chances of winning — I won’t give away the details, but believe me when I say that even a seven-year-old wouldn’t come up with something as hare-brained as this.

You don’t need an expert to point out that it’s the film’s third-class script where most of the problems lie. Instead of focusing on the sport that the film’s supposedly about, the screenplay meanders in too many unnecessary directions. Like the British Asian father who doesn’t approve of his son playing for a “gora” team, or the Chak De-inspired subplot of the disgraced coach who takes on this impossible challenge for personal vindication, the whole protective elder brother cliche that Arshad Warsi lives out, and even the meant-to-be-cutesy romantic track between John and Bipasha Basu. The final blow has got to be the film’s dialogue, which is made up of exactly the kind of cheesy lines that deserve to be parodied. Honestly, I’ve never heard so many cliches uttered in the same film.

The least you expect from a film about sport is some spectacularly shot sporting action, but the football scenes in Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal are plain predictable and boringly photographed. Think of the cricket scenes in Lagaan, or the hockey scenes in Chak De India, and you’ll agree that they were original and imaginative and they kept you at the edge of your seat because they were so thrilling.

But it’s a shame that neither the director, nor the cinematographer of this film even noticed that the football scenes in this film were colourless and mundane. There wasn’t very much I liked about director Vivek Agnihotri’s last film, Chocolate but you can’t deny the film was stylishly shot. So what happened this time? Why did Southall lack character? Why did that item song have to be shot so typically? Why were the product placements so blatant?

The acting, to be honest, isn’t much better. Boman Irani’s usually a dependable actor but dumped with such an ill-fitting role he turns theatrical for no reason at all, and ends up delivering what can best be described as an embarrassing performance.

Give Arshad Warsi a clearly defined role and watch him bring it to life with his spontaneity, but in this film can you blame him for playing out his part with such indifference? Bipasha Basu as the girl-next-door physician seems ill at ease trying to hide her inherent oomph behind those simple spectacles, and John Abraham may be charming as hell flashing those dimples every three seconds, but it’s hardly the kind of film they’re going to be remembered for. The rest of the cast — Raj Zutshi, Kushal Punjabi and the others — over-act just as much as the main leads and hence fail to rise above the severely flawed script.

In the end, what separates Dhan Dhanadhan Goal from other disappointing films like No Smoking andSaawariya is that you spent most of those films wondering where it was all leading upto, but this one you spend just waiting for it to end. It’s amateurish and awkward and it annoys you no end to be sitting there watching this doomed production unfold at such a leisurely pace. For that alone, director Vivek Agnihotri gets a red card from me. It’s a foul he’s committed.

So that’s one out of five for Vivek Agnihotri’s Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, and it’s not so much one star, as it is one kick for this painfully pointless picture!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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