De Danadan – Priyadarshan, 2009 – Or – De din-a-din

Imagine yourself in a Churchgate-Virar local train at 6.30 pm. You have sweaty armpits up your nose, oily strands of hair in your mouth, feet on your feet, and elbows in your back. You are not sure which body part is yours and which belongs to someone else crushing against you. It’s a 2-hour journey but seems endless.

There is the rattle of the train, the din of the wind and the 1001 fellow passengers in your 200-seater coach have taken it into their heads to bay like hounds. You don’t know why, perhaps it’s a full moon night. 

Now if that is your idea of fun, you will enjoy ‘De Dana Dan’.

The 18 characters get almost equal amount of screen time, but no effort is made to differentiate one from the other, in their performances. Through 16 reels of film, all of them uniformly screech until the veins in their necks threaten to burst, or their eyes fall out of their sockets. 

Even if predictable, the story could have translated into a funny film. Two poor guys, two rich girls, money minded fathers, a harridan woman boss, a scheming con-man, his slightly dumb son, a confused hit-man, a misunderstood ambassador, a tough call girl, a lecherous old man, a dead body and one hotel with 400 rooms. 

The physical gags are worked out well. For instance, if A seeing her father F starts crawling, B is walking across, C is carrying a tray of food, B topples over A, hits C, C’s tray flies, covers D in chicken gravy, E comes along, D cannot see him because he has gravy in his eyes, E thinks D is X, and D thinks E is Y. Leading to further misunderstandings. 

But while the plot moves smoothly enough, Priyadarshan fails to give the characters any attention. Akshay Kumar and Suneil Shetty show grey in their scalps and stubble, and while they look good for their age, it’s difficult to accept them as penniless, struggling boys who have young, beautiful rich heiresses as girlfriends. 

The leading girls are inane. Katrina does seem in love with Akshay, but Sameera Reddy looks hassled every time her boyfriend Suneil Shetty shows up. All the other women want either money or sex, and are willing to burst their lungs for them.

Rishi Oberoi’s sound design attacks your eardrums. 

K Ahambaram is at his best shooting hotel stairways, warehouse floors or cityscapes. But he falls short when human beings enter the frame, even managing to make Katrina look ordinary.  

The track ‘Baamulaiza’ is catchy, but nothing different from Pritam’s usual fare.

Jay Master’s idea of writing funny dialogue is to call women offensive names.

Train journeys are better if the coach is not crowded or noisy and one has the time to talk to one’s fellow passengers. The same could be said for ‘De Dana Dan’. 

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