By : RACHNA TYAGI
Director Tarun Dudeja’s film, Dhak Dhak, starring Ratna Pathak Shah as Manpreet Kaur Sethi, Dia Mirza as Uzma, Fatima Sana Shaikh as Sky, and Sanjana Sanghi as Manjari begins with the discussion of ahem… a loo, or should we say Shauchalay. With the words “Betiyaan dur na jaaye, Ghar Ghar Shauchalay Banaye” painted on a wall, and after some cliched Su Su jokes (Yes, you read that right), a discussion about Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), and eve teasing by two boorish men, the women, on their Royal Enfield motorcycles, continue to ride on.
Next, the film goes on to introduce us to the four main characters by giving us a peek into their lives through a background story on each one which explains, not convincingly enough, why each of them feels compelled to go on a road trip to Khardung La… considered a “Teeeerath Yatra” for motorcycle riders, according to Sethi. Sethi, who has won her Royal Enfield motorcycle as a prize in a contest, wants to prove a point to her family that women of her vintage still have what it takes and are no pushovers. Uzma needs the road trip to get away (if only temporarily), from the clutches of a domineering husband, and finds herself onboard with the other three motorcyclists as their mechanic who knows a thing or two about fuses and fog lamps. Sky, who is bearing her own cross, needs a kickass story before going to an auto show in Spain, and this road trip with women riders to Khardung La is her ticket to Spain! Manjari, all set to tie the knot, seems unsure of how things will pan out and needs time away from her mollycoddling mother to clear her head, and that is why she signs up for this road trip along with the other motorcyclists.
A night racing scene looks straight out of the film Tokyo Drift except that here, it is not car drivers but motorcyclists performing stunts that reminds you more of Bajaj Pulsar’s stuntmen from their fabulous ad over a decade ago. In another scene the women are seen sharing a light moment over chilled beer and what else – Old Monk rum – where Sethi claims that rum is not alcohol but an emotion, and goes on to do a desi version of Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm in a restaurant from the film When Harry Met Sally. How original! Not to mention the women’s conversation that revolves around various flavours of condoms!
The film attempts to deal with various women-related issues from hygienic loos to eve teasing to the issue of consent to women’s independence, as well as women’s inheritance rights amongst others, but while watching the film, it almost seems as if the road trip to Khardung La is an aside, despite most of the film being shot on the road. The shining visors of the riders’ helmets, after a whole day of riding, the women’s dangling earrings and their Salwar Kameezes while riding to Khardung La depict a nonchalance and somehow fails to convince the audiences about the serious nature of undertaking a ride to one of the world’s highest motorable passes. Of course, there is also a scene with all of them sleeping under the stars in sleeping bags at a makeshift camp site but somehow, it all seems too contrived and just does not cut it. And while those uniform-coloured fleece jackets for all four may make for a pretty picture, real riders know only too well that on riding trips to some of the world’s highest motorable passes with unpredictable weather conditions, serious windbreaker jackets are de riguer.
Neither is Dhak Dhak’s script taut, nor are the dialogues anything to write home about. The camera angles aren’t mesmerizing enough to draw you in, and the editing too seems lacklustre with most of scenes appearing as if strung together in a rather cliched and higgledy-piggledy manner. The only saving grace for the film comes from the performances by all four women who essay their roles well, shouldering the responsibility of the film on their seemingly dainty shoulders, thereby preventing it from a total collapse. Does it succeed in straddling two motorcycles? Nope. But then it would be a tad unfair to expect these 'Biker Babes’ to suddenly transform into the women counterpart of Ajay Devgn from the film, Phool Aur Kaante, wouldn’t it?