There is a scene in Pawan Kumar’s Dhoomam where Fahadh Faasil’s Avinash pitches the idea of creating an anti-smoking ad in a way that grabs the attention of those who enter the theaters to watch movies. Director Pawan Kumar’s vision behind the film Dhoomam is similar to this idea. While Avinash pitched the idea to make smoking look cool, Pawan’s vision was to create a version that would induce trauma in the viewer’s mind. While some of the information and marketing strategies they show in the film look genuine, the omnipresent messaging and predictability due to that messaging angle somewhere make Dhoomam look like a partially convincing drama.
Avinash, a man who worked in a big Tobacco company’s marketing division, is the movie’s central character. One day while he was returning home after picking up his wife Diya, the couple got attacked by a stranger, and the following day, both of them woke up in an isolated location. Diya was unconscious, and Avinash got this call from the stranger asking for money. Who is this unknown man, why is he asking them for money, and whats his threat that is making Avinash do everything he asks him to do is what we see in Dhoomam.
SPOILER ALERT! In a way, Dhoomam is an inverted vigilante thriller. Someone like Shankar is known for creating vigilante justice thrillers, and Pawan Kumar has approached a similar story from the bad guy’s perspective. While the usual template showed you the victory of the central character, here, the emphasis is more on the remorse of that character. Pawan keeps the antagonist as a mystery man as he is more of a representative. He uses that character to counter Avinash’s justifications, and I liked how he equated Avinash with a terrorist. But the predictability of certain “goodness” patches in the film makes it bland, and it was kind of annoying when your central characters failed to see something that you could sense without much effort.
Fahadh Faasil, with his usual charm, is flawless in those flashback portions where we are shown the marketing skills and cunningness of the character. When Avinash enters panic mode, his performance’s beats are familiar; but it works. As Diya, Aparna Balamurali also gets a character that offers her a good space to perform, and just like Fahadh, her performance in the flashback portions was more catchy. I really loved the flow in the performance of Roshan Mathew as the unapologetic and cool Sidharth. The repartee between him and Fahadh was a joy to watch. Anu Mohan, Achyuth Kumar, Vineeth, Joy Mathew, Nandu, etc., are the other names in the cast.
Pawan knows how the whole bomb thing can make it look way too unreal for the audience; hence he starts the movie with a sequence that kind of plants that idea as a possibility in our heads. The dialogues in the flashback portions have the charisma to their credit. But when it comes to the present-day cat-and-mouse game, it almost felt like the dialogue of a dubbed film. The interval block that puts the character in a punishing spot was pretty clever. The major task in front of them was to balance the preachy aspect and the thriller format. The guilt through which the characters go through is palpable, but I won’t say it felt that disturbing.
Dhoomam was an attempt to disturb the audience by exposing many realities behind the world of Tobacco. From marketing strategies to passive smoking, I think some of the things they mentioned might actually happen in the near future. But the mixing of messaging and storytelling wasn’t consistent, and hence the impact was slightly missing.
The mixing of messaging and storytelling wasn't consistent, and hence the impact was slightly missing.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended