Borrowing the template of Stanley Kramer’s satire on greed, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) director Indra Kumar has made a slapstick comedy that is full of nonsensical situations. Just like the original, a dying man (Manoj Pahwa) lying by the roadside reveals to total strangers directions to his secret cache, where he has ridden 50 crore rupees. This motley bunch includes a couple heading for splitsville, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, disgraced firemen Riteish Deshmukh and Pitobash Tripathy, clueless conmen Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaffrey, as well as robbers Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Mishra, who originally stole the money from a corrupt police commissioner, Boman Irani. What follows is a madcap race where every team tries to get past the others in order to reach Janakpur zoo first and claim the booty. Their various misadventures along the way, as well as inside the zoo serve as springboards for broad comedy.
Thankfully, director Indra Kumar has taken recourse to slapstick rather than double entendre jokes, risque scenes, as well as toilet humour and that’s a good thing. It’s a comedy which you can watch with your entire family, as also with children. In fact, it would be safe to say that the film is primarily aimed at children, who will enjoy its cartoonish climax. The CGi rendering of the animals leaves much to be desired though.
The director, as well as the cast are aware that they aren’t taking cinema forward with this one but are aiming for an escapist comedy and more or less achieve that. Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor have come together in a film after 17 years and it’s good to see that their chemistry is still intact. Their scenes together in the court do put a smile on your face. Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaffrey have continued with their Adi-Manav act from previous films. Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Mishra make for an unlikely couple but are good enough performers to pull off their boss and sidekick act. Their best moment comes when they’re guided by a GPS voiced by Jackie Shroff speaking in full mawali Hindi. Riteish Deshmukh and Pitobash Tripathy too have a crazy scene involving a tall building.
The screenplay is full of twists and some plot points never get explained. The editing is patchy at best. The computer imagery too could have done with an upgrade. The film delivers its punches by stringing together one ridiculous situation after another. As long as you enjoy that brand of comedy and are looking for a film to unwind, then Total Dhamaal is just the fare for you…