As a kid, one of my favourite shows on TV was 'Malgudi Days'. It left an indelible impression on my mind, memories that I cherish to date. When I watch films set in a hamlet with assorted characters that seem straight out of life, memories of 'Malgudi Days' come alive instantaneously. That's precisely what I felt while watching DUS TOLA.
Having a similar storyline as the Malayalam film PONMUTTAYIDUNNA THARAVU, DUS TOLA has an interesting plotline and boasts of a few endearing moments, but the outcome is plain and simplistic. Also, the writing is quite erratic; it involves you at a few places, but is yawn inducing at most times.
Final word? Lacks the glitz and sparkle!
Shankar [Manoj Bajpayee] is the much loved goldsmith of a quaint coastal town Sonapur. Shankar is head over heels in love with the town beauty, his cunning astrologer neighbour's daughter Suvarnalata [Aarti Chhabria]. Needless to say, Shastri [Dilip Prabahvalkar], Suvarna's father, is opposed to the budding romance.
Suvarna cooks up a fool-proof plan to manipulate her father into accepting the alliance. She convinces a smitten Shankar to make a necklace of not one tola, not two tolas, but ten tolas of gold so he can show Shastri that he can take care of his daughter and he is a suitable husband for her. Shankar puts everything he has at stake and slogs day and night to make a necklace for his beloved.
A shocking turn of events leaves Shankar flabbergasted. He feels cheated, but the truth is out soon.
What goes around comes around - this is the message that DUS TOLA attempts to send across. But director Ajoy and the writer take their own sweet time to convey the message. The numerous stories and parallel tracks running concurrently divert and deflect you attention, driving you away from the main plot. These include the romantic track between Manoj and the dance teacher [drab], Govind Namdeo and his third wife's story [forced] and Manoj's father's scenes [in poor taste]. Even the climax is ridiculous. If the writing is patchy, the direction is equally inconsistent. The songs gratuitously adjoin to the length of the film.
Manoj Bajpayee is completely miscast. A younger lead man would've looked more convincing in this role. Aarti Chhabria doesn't look convincing either, though she puts in every effort to look the character. Siddharth Makkar is fairly good. Amongst the plethora of actors, Dilip Prabhavalkar and Ninad Kamat seem real.
On the whole, DUS TOLA will go completely disregarded and eventually fall into the category of those films that arrive without a bang and leave without a whimper.