Dishoom Image Credit: Supplied

How long will John Abraham, arguably one of Bollywood’s most good looking men, wing it by just looking brooding and steely?

His smouldering looks and his surly attitude form the spine of his latest role as police officer Kabir in the action drama Dishoom. He’s the kind of man who smokes in an elevator, puts an unsuspecting man’s life at risk and kicks the poor guy out for asking him to stub it out.

That’s his introductory scene, and his slow-motion walk after kicking the poor guy was contrived to underline how cool, maverick and reckless Kabir is. In another scene, he smoked a cigarette near an aircraft. Note to the Dishoom team: there’s nothing remotely cool about blowing smoke into people’s faces and, dude, such stupidity is going to just blow up your handsome face.

And how long will Varun Dhawan get by with playing an adorable, bumbling underdog? In his brother’s directorial vehicle, Dhawan gives Birdman — the cute British Bulldog who is instrumental in cracking the kidnapping drama — a run for his money. We have seen him do the same thing in several romantic comedies such as Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Dilwale and Main Tera Hero — and it’s getting old. Seriously.

Dishoom is about two police officers tasked with solving an important kidnapping case. Indian cricketer Viraj Sharma (Saqib Saleem) has been abducted before an important India-Pakistan match by a scheming bookie (Akshaye Khanna). The criminal wants the celebrated batsman to throw the game and buy into his match-fixing dreams. It doesn’t take much to figure out his evil plans, but Kabir and Junaid (Dhawan) take a long time to track him down. Their investigation leads them to an underground Middle Eastern city, a harem and burly men.

While the first half is engaging, the second half is ridden with cliches and corny twists. A sight for the sore eyes was the bromance. As far as buddy-cops go, they are cute together. They have an impish charm about them, but it’s painfully predictable. What holds up Dishoom, filmed extensively in the UAE, are the two A’s: action and Abu Dhabi.

It’s exhilarating to watch the two men hang off helicopters, ram into an FJ Cruiser, pluck the villain out of it and then threaten to drop him into the ocean. It’s neatly done. Bravo boys, take a bow. Abu Dhabi looks like a swanky, futuristic metropolis studded with glistening skyscrapers. Although Dishoom identifies the city as “somewhere in the Middle East”, there’s no escaping its glorious landmarks. For a UAE resident, the swish scenes may evoke a sense of reflected pride. But we wish the makers of the film had gone easy on the blatant brand promotions that keep cropping up in important scenes.

How’d she do that?

Jacqueline Fernandez is on call to look fashionable and feisty. She plays Ishika, a recovering drug addict who pickpockets for a living. If that didn’t make you scoff, she also claims that she can help Kabir and Junaid get entry into a dangerous Middle Eastern city filled with thugs and dagger-toting men. How she got those skills and resources isn’t answered in this film. And did I tell you, that she can dance like a dream, too?

Stereotypes attached to the Middle East are brought alive in the second half of the movie as the police duo’s murky investigation leads to an ancient Arab city. Think sandy markets with dagger-wielding men in turbans, underground harems, lions in the backyards and camels roaming freely. Fortunately, those sequences are swift and the two men are back to their stylish selves in a jiffy.

Saleem and Khanna were given limited scope to perform, but they manage to slide by. The focus is on Abraham and Dhawan, the two swashbuckling heroes. But it would have been great if there was more to them than just style and swagger.

Out now

Film: Dishoom

Director: Rohit Dhawan

Cast: John Abraham, Varun Dhawan, Saqib Saleem and Jacqueline Fernandez.

Stars: 2.5 out of 5