Review: Dug Dug

Written and directed by Ritwik Pareek, mysterious events in the wake of a freak motorcycle accident sow the seeds of a new religion. Starring: Altaf Khan, Gaurav Pareek, Yogendra Singh Parmar, Durga Lal Saini, Mukul Kumar Mk Singh, Yogendra Singh and Gaurav Soni.

The opening to Dug Dug is brilliantly sleek and stylish, it tells you basically nothing but even purely the way that it moves is utterly captivating. Ritwik Pareek creates such a compelling and impressive style, enhancing the colours, building a smart but also fun atmosphere, setting out the film on that note of wit but not taking itself too seriously. However, it’s a style that while hugely effective, is also incredibly difficult to keep going consistently, especially with a slow pacing such as this film has. It starts to lose its edge and impact about halfway through and becomes a touch repetitive, although its sense of humour is still there. It’s a shame to not see that genuine personality it has in its earlier scenes follow through till the end but things get slightly messy as time goes on.

Pareek’s writing has a fantastic concept, it blossoms from the simple idea of how religious superstition can grow out of control, the tiniest seed turning into a giant circus. It leans into the exaggeration and the speed with which the local community embraces this supernatural occurrence and makes it their own. It also has a superb point about commercialisation, and not just celebrating something seemingly miraculous but using it to your advantage. That said, there are some things that work much better than others with this script, firstly the minimal dialogue is expertly effective in the beginning. Starting out, relying on implications and some well-timed facial cues, it’s nicely dialled back to let the humour stand out, but as time goes on, there’s something missing.

While there are a few who could be considered central characters, their actual impact on the story, for the most part, is so minimal that it’s hard to invest in them. That in turn leaves it lacking in a focus or lead to its story, its intentions are clear but it operates with a very wide perspective, observational rather than a story with more active participants. Then when it finally arrives at its ending where the characters do start to take charge, it falls into an overly repetitive pattern. It’s something that it struggles with throughout, the points that it’s making could be made much quicker to develop the story more.

Dug Dug is sleek and funny, but ultimately feels unsatisfying. Ritwik Pareek’s direction is extremely well done, the cinematography is very strong and it makes a wonderful use of colour to enhance the atmosphere. However, the story starts off brilliantly then sadly becomes slow and repetitive, it has a tendency to overly make its point before it will move on, which doesn’t leave enough room for its characters to build or its plot to thicken.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Showing as part of London Indian Film Festival 2022

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