Dhoomam, by writer-director Pawan Kumar, is like a breeze that later grows into a hurricane and ultimately finds no real place to unleash all its energy. Fahadh Faasil is one of my favorite actors, but I hadn’t seen him in an out-and-out plot-driven movie that did not leave any space for a character study. The story about Avinash, the marketing head of a tobacco company, Dhoomam, is a crime thriller with the ‘race against time’ trope used to an exhausting extent, cramming several didactic (and sometimes preachy and heavy-handed) sequences about the ill-effects of smoking. After Avinash quits his job, he and his wife Diya are attacked, and someone wants him to complete a series of tasks if they want to survive. Avinash and Diya run around the city to find the man responsible, and the wild goose chase seems to be connected to Avinash’s job, where he excelled in marketing cigarettes, making an unprecedented profit for his boss Siddharth. The film tries hard to mask its didactic approach by relentlessly forcing the plot into being unnecessarily thrilling, but ends up being convoluted instead.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
Dhoomam, meaning ‘smoke,’ was going to affect Avinash somehow, even though he never smoked. Cigarettes and Avinash were not connected in any significant way, but he was a bit of a marketing genius, it seemed. He had helped his friend grow his business and convert his small-time food van into a thriving food stall. Diya had met him when he was helping his friend serve the food to the customers. They fell in love and eventually married each other a few years later. A lot has happened since then and to the present day, with one of the major events being Siddharth discovering Avinash at the food stall and seeing the potential in him to be a great marketing asset. Siddharth, aka Sid, and his uncle Praveen ran the tobacco company ‘Likes’ together and needed someone to come up with campaign ideas to grow the business. Avinash came in handy and, through a series of brilliant ideas, became the marketing head. Problems began when, in trying to expand the business, Siddharth took the help of a powerful minister, and the ethics of selling of low quality cigarettes began to irk Avinash.
Why Did Avinash Ask Praveen For The Money?
Avinash had resigned, left the office in Sid’s car (Sid had given him the car as a parting gift), and picked up his wife Diya. The following morning, Avinash found himself in the car, while Diya was lying unconscious outside at some distance. Someone had brought them to a remote location near an abandoned warehouse. After Avinash came out of his deep slumber, he remembered getting punched and someone injecting something into the couple. It wasn’t a hallucination. They had been drugged and brought to the remote location by a masked man. He had left Avinash with a watch with a countdown on it and had called him to reveal what he had to do to survive. Firstly, Avinash had to procure a sum of ten million rupees and wait for further instructions. Avinash had no one but Sid on his call log who could get him that money. Praveen arrived, and Avinash attacked him, as he hadn’t given him the address to the warehouse. It had to be him who had left them near the warehouse. But Praveen was told by Sid to help Avinash out, as he (Sid) was out of town and couldn’t come with the money himself. Relations between Praveen and the duo of Avinash and Sid were not good, professionally speaking, but this was a life-and-death situation.
Why Was Praveen Shocked?
Praveen had come to help Avinash, but he was a little shocked as well. This was because he had hired killers to murder Sid on his way home. But Sid had given the car to Avinash, and Praveen suspected that the killers had perhaps attacked Avinash instead of Sid. But that wasn’t the case at all. When Praveen called the killers to abort the plan as Sid had left town and they might kill Avinash, mistaking him for Sid, they told him that they weren’t even able to track Sid’s car as it had gone off course. Praveen was terrified of anyone getting to know about his criminal intention, and it was best that he just got Avinash the money on Sid’s request. That way, he could maintain complete innocence. Before he could bring the money, Avinash was given further instructions on the phone, which almost got him killed. The man who had kidnapped him had arranged for him a car and a bag, but sent a hitman to kill him. But Avinash proved he was a survivor as he defended himself in the end, throwing the man off a cliff. Now he was left with a car, two guns, and a bag. Sid had made covert deals with a minister, and Avinash was part of the meetings. Was this all just an elaborate way to finish Avinash off? Avinash even suspected Sid of being the one trying to finish him off at the behest of the minister. He had to confront him to get to the truth. But before all of that, he had to explain to Diya why he was listening to the kidnapper in the first place. The hitman was dead, and they could just leave. At this moment, Avinash had to reveal that the watch’s countdown meant that a bomb would go off that was perhaps planted somewhere in his body.
\Why Did The Kidnapper Want Diya To Smoke?
Actually, the bomb was in Diya’s body, but Avinash couldn’t tell her that. She would have run away to protect him. He wanted to keep her close, as he hoped that whoever the kidnapper was, they were only after the money Praveen had gone to bring. After getting the money, they would defuse the bomb as well. Kumar, Sid’s driver, was on his way to the airport to pick Sid up, but Sid didn’t know that Avinash had already exchanged the car with Kumar. Avinash told Kumar to take his car home and let him and Diya pick Sid up. Later, he kidnapped Sid to get to the bottom of the whole case. Praveen brought the cash to the warehouse and found that Avinash had tied up the unconscious Sid. Avinash took the money and fled with Diya, unaware that Sid would harm Praveen. Praveen was found dead in the warehouse by Prakash. It was Sid who had shot Praveen, which ultimately resulted in his death. The kidnapper had warned Sid of Praveen’s intentions to kill him, which is why he had decided to give his car to Avinash. Seeing Praveen in the warehouse, Sid grew nervous and shot him, knowing he would do the same if he got the chance. He had to shoot himself in the arm to have a fake story for the police of how he was a victim, essentially a survivor.
Diya tried to get to the bottom of the case and asked Avinash to recall all the major events at the company while they followed the kidnapper’s instructions before time ran out. Avinash had used famous celebrities for the ‘quit smoking’ campaigns, banking on the fact that viewers would link fame with cigarettes, and he was correct. Many youngsters caught on to the fad as well. He had irked Praveen when he suggested canceling a deal with the Chinese businessmen, as Satya, the company’s researcher, had told him that Chinese cigarettes were dangerously addictive. Similarly, he was a potential threat for the minister as well, as he knew all about his shady dealings with the tobacco companies, where he basically ordered them to sell black market products to save tax. Following the instructions, Avinash reached two families, who benefited immensely from the money. But the kidnapper didn’t show up. He made them go to a cemetery where a box containing Avinash’s company’s cigarettes was present on a grave.
The bomb was a Chinese bomb and was present in Diya’s throat. It was made to be detonated by cigarette smoke. But the kidnapper had reversed the work here. The countdown referred to the time remaining until the bomb detonated, and the smoke, instead of making the bomb go off, was adding minutes to the timer. Diya had to smoke like a chimney, while Avinash tried to figure out how to find the kidnapper. Ultimately, it was revealed that the kidnapper was in Black Ops, and he saw Avinash as a terrorist who stopped at nothing and sold cigarettes to kids, which was only partially true. He had voiced his opinion against the ‘vapes’ and resigned because of the very fact that cigarettes were now being sold to minors, and they could afford it as they were selling black market stuff, which was radically cheap. The kidnapper had a babysitter, who was so influenced by Avinash’s campaign ads that she smoked even while near the baby. As a result, his baby suffered a ‘crib death,’ a direct result of passive smoke inhalation. Now he was making Avinash pay, or at least directing him to right his wrongs, if he didn’t want the same fate for Diya. Diya, coincidentally, received the notification that she was pregnant and refused to smoke any more. Time was running out, and Avinash had only Satya, the researcher, by his side.
The police couldn’t pin Praveen’s murder on Sid, as the minister used all his power to dissuade the honest cop, Prakash, from investigating the case any further. Two men were arrested so they could have a story ready for the media as to who Sid’s kidnappers were. This was all done as the Commissioner of Police was loyal to the minister, and he didn’t want any hiccups in finishing off Avinash, who had run off and hence became a problem for him. Avinash knew all the secret dealings between Sid and the minister, which was a problem. They didn’t know why he had taken the ten million rupees, so naturally, the minister thought Avinash was up to no good. He wanted to get to Avinash first, and he almost did. The cab driver Diya went with, after learning about her own pregnancy and Avinash’s indirect involvement in the kidnapper’s baby’s death, was the minister’s hitman, who had been following the couple. He tried choking Diya to death, but as she had refused to smoke, the timer ran out and the bomb went off, killing both of them on the spot.
During Dhoomam‘s ending, Avinash and Satya returned back to the warehouse, where Avinash had left his phone with the camera on, as if to record all activity after he left Sid and Praveen. He saw Sid shoot Praveen, and this was the only evidence that would solve it all. He sent the video to Diya, and while he was on his way to the police, Satya was shot dead. The man who pointed the gun at Avinash in the end wore the same jacket that Sid wore, which makes it clear that Sid had left the hospital to finish Avinash off. Avinash is most certainly dead, and the only good deed he did before dying was help the families with Praveen’s money. They were the families of cancer patients who had died recently. Avinash died knowing he could have been a father, as Diya had told him so before getting killed. So, would Sid and the minister go scot free? The only way Prakash could get to the truth was hidden in Diya’s phone, which was recovered near Diya’s body. It had the footage where Sid could be seen shooting Praveen, who had split up on the decision to make the company go public. The video was enough proof to put the now-tobacco tycoon, Sid, behind bars. The kidnappers’ identity was never revealed.