Bollywood & Hollywood Go Head-to-Head

The Fast and the Furious, which was released in 2001, has been widely regarded as bringing street racing, Asian car imports, and radical car modification to the attention of the American public. In it (spoiler alert for those of you who live under rocks and haven’t seen the film), Paul Walker plays an LAPD officer who goes undercover in a street racing gang to try and bust a truck hijacking ring—led by Vin Diesel’s character. After gaining their trust through a variety of high-octane adventures, Paul Walker eventually lets him go because of the strength of their friendship, later becoming booted out of the force for letting a wanted criminal escape.

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Not three years later, Bollywood came out with a similar movie, titled Dhoom. It was essentially The Fast and the Furious on motorbikes but re-shot as a comedy/drama. Superstar Abhishek Bachchan starred as a no-nonsense cop, who recruits a laidback thief played by Uday Chopra to try and stop a motorcycle gang of thieves led by John Abraham. Cue high speed chases, a bit of cheesy dialogue, and a gunfight or two, and an overly dramatic ending (to be discussed later), and you basically have the Indian man’s The Fast and the Furious.

 

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The thing is that both films have hordes of fans, both films sparked franchises, and both films have brought in large amounts of revenue. So the question is: Which movie is better? Both films have their merits and shortcomings, but there are equal numbers of fans who would swear by each. What follows is a review where the movies are compared on the basis of acting, dialogue, vehicles, action/chase scenes, and  uniqueness.

1. Acting.

Let’s be honest. Neither film is packed with any fantastically talented actors. Paul Walker does a mediocre job as a cop torn between his friends and his duty, but struggles to sell his interpretation to viewers. Similarly, Abhishek Bachchan decides that he is going to be a stoic, by-the-book cop, and delivers nearly every damn line in a mind-numbing monotonous voice. But both films had their saving graces. Vin Diesel did a surprisingly good job of playing the blue collar criminal trying to keep his crew safe while simultaneously taking care of them. He does a good job of balancing his anger and his compassion throughout the film. In the same vein, John Abraham plays the genius antagonist who is masterminding all the thefts. He is less family-oriented than Diesel, tending to play a more threatening and antagonistic role. He is smooth, calm, and collected through the entire film, while still maintaining an undercurrent of danger.

The supporting casts in both films don’t draw any real praise. Uday Chopra plays the wise-cracking thief who is the cop’s foil. Michele Rodriguez and Esha Deol basically play the same role in their respective films: the love interest of main characters. Neither does a particularly noteworthy job and neither are particularly talented actresses. The remaining actors in the film simply play their part—no more, no less.

In the case of acting, the higher marks go to The Fast and the Furious. Where Vin Diesel almost single-handedly turns what could have been a B-rated action flick into a fairly enjoyable and engrossing film. His interpretation of Dominic Toretto is dynamic and thrilling. This performance goes unmatched (hands down) in Dhoom.

 

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2. Dialogue

Action movies aren’t always known for their spectacular and artistic dialogue—regardless of language. And the same can be said for these films. In Dhoom you have stereotypical banter between two friends with differing personalities. In the Fast and the Furious, you’ve got typical cop-criminal back and forth mixed with some car-lingo and steroids. The scripts in both films could have been far better, but no one really watches action movies for the dialogue.

In The Fast and the Furious, you have Paul Walker’s delivery making some terrible lines that much worse. Even Vin Diesel’s acting ability can’t change that fact that some of the words coming out of his mouth were written by a bunch of suburban white guys who have never once participated in a street race. Or hijacked a truck full of electronics. Michele Rodriguez literally makes a bad situation worse by delivering every line with a bit too much sass and far too little believability.

In the case of Dhoom, the saving grace is the performance of Uday Chopra who plays the part of the wise-ass annoying criminal brilliantly…because he’s played that role in countless other movies. Regardless, he plays the part brilliantly (if not predictably), and brings a lot of laughs to the film. In the case of dialogue, the round goes to Dhoom.

 

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3. Vehicles

I’m going to call this section before I even begin this category. The Fast and the Furious wins this category without a shadow of a doubt. The sheer number of cars that appear in the film, exotic or modified, is incredible and endlessly fascinating. You get to see souped-up imports, exotics, muscle cars, you name it! This is what makes The Fast and the Furious a film that people keep coming back to watch—because there are so many cool cars in it.

Here’s an example of some of the cars that appear in the film:

-          1993 Mazda RX-7 Veilside

-          1994 Toyota Supra

-          1995 Volkswagen Jetta

-          1970 Dodge Charger

-          1999 Honda S2000

-          1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

-          1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse

 

Dhoom on the other hand, used only literally only three bikes: the 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa, the 600cc Suzuki GSX-RX600, and the 1200cc Suzuki Bandit. While all three are quality bikes, none of them are really attention-grabbing. And that’s all there really is to say about the vehicles in that film…kinda sad, really.

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4. Action/Chase sequences

Both movies have the obligatory chase scenes that come when you mix high speed vehicles, crime, and law enforcement. And both scenes have their merits. In Dhoom, because the movie is focused on bikes, there is that added excitement of weaving in and out of traffic—there is even a chase through a mall! However, it becomes painfully obvious early on in the film that some of the scenes have been edited to seem more exciting. In several parts, the film is obviously sped up to make it seem as if the bikes are traveling at unusually high speeds. Furthermore, the appearance of NOS on bikes was poorly executed cinematically. None of the stunts seemed particularly daring or exciting. The chase scenes seemed run-of-the-mill and unimaginative.

On the other hand, The Fast and the Furious had phenomenal racing and chase scenes. The movie was packed with them! You had imports racing imports, imports racing muscle cars, cops chasing motorcycles that were chasing street racers! While they weren’t able to have the same ‘zipping’ effect of motorcycles, the sheer power and speed of the vehicles involved could almost be felt by the view. There was literally no shortage of excitement. More importantly, no two sequences were the same. Each scene was different, creative, and always kept the viewer on edge.

While both films had their own respectable chase scenes, this category goes to The Fast and the Furious for their innovative and nail-biting displays of vehicular prowess.

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5. Uniqueness

This final category will judge the films based on their uniqueness, that is, their ability to set themselves apart from each other. In this respect, both films deal with high speed vehicles and crime, but while The Fast and the Furious decides to focus more on hijackings, Dhoom’s  crimes are more heist-y, if you will. Banks and casinos are targets rather than truckloads of electronics. This, in my opinion, adds a bit more excitement and old-fashioned thrill. It also adds a bit of complexity to the film in contrast to The Fast and the Furious’ gun-and-run style of entertainment. Furthermore, the plotline of The Fast and the Furious is quite predictable and somewhat uncreative.  You know Paul Walker was going to fall in love with Dom’s sister. You know that they were going to end up being best of friends and that Paul Walker wouldn’t let Vin Diesel go to jail. Aside from all those chase scenes and fast cars, The Fast and the Furious is just another action flick.

The same can be said for Dhoom, except for its ending. When John Abraham is finally caught during his last big heist and he finds himself alone at the edge of a cliff—he chooses to drive off and go down in a blaze of glory rather than be caught. This was an ending that no one really saw coming. Also—Dhoom is also one giant musical (following classic Bollywood tradition). The movie is filled with several music numbers and songs that went on to become huge hits and taking over India’s airwaves for months on end. This simple fact might make the film much more unique than The Fast and the Furious. Your main characters, the same people seen shooting and driving, are also singing and dancing. It’s absolutely nuts and can’t be recreated in the same way outside of Bollywood.  This category goes to Dhoom, no contest.

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In conclusion, it’s pretty clear that The Fast and the Furious is the clear winner by a 3-2 category victory. It edged out Dhoom in terms of acting, vehicles, and action/chase sequences. The film is clearly the better movie with more excitement, more attention to detail, and all-around cinematic value. But this isn’t to say that Dhoom isn’t a good film. While it may be lacking in terms of acting and vehicular excitement, it makes up for in content and sheer novelty. It’s more of a fun and laid-back movie with a flair or recklessness. It’s a great film to watch if you haven’t seen many Bollywood movies or you’re looking for a fun way to kill an hour or two. But it’s just lacking that extra ‘oomph’ that would make it go from being a good movie to a great movie—like The Fast and the Furious.

Until next time, drive on!

 

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Soham Desai