How often have you sat through an entire film holding, inadvertently, the exact same expression as the film’s hero? Unbeknownst to myself, I watched Dhoom 3 with my brows knitted, nose crinkled and lips crunched up in disgust, as if some really foul fart smell was emanating from the screen.
It was, if you consider what’s gone into the making of this film and the shite that’s come out. Hardly have I seen such lavish rubbish mounted on such a spectacular scale.
The blame rests with all those involved in the unmaking of this film.
Dhoom 3’s script is scatty and trite. The story takes exactly two interesting turns, but before and after these twists it drags in the most dreary way. The direction is dull and inconsistent.
Despite all this the film could have been saved by its star. Only, Aamir Khan makes the proceedings duller than they already are.
Who is a star? What is star power? Stars are people who don’t lose themselves to a character, but own them, adorning them with their own charisma and persona. No matter how outlandish their character and his/her shenanigans, they make you believe. They sell dreams and bring a smile to our faces.
Aamir Khan is considered, affected, deliberate. He has not had any lightness of being for a while. He abandoned spontaneity the day he decided to become Bandra’s greatest actor. Yet, he’s more a star than an actor.
But judging by Dhoom 3, he now seems incapable of possessing the character of a Bollywood hero. He may sell us dreams on Sunday mornings on telly, but on the silver screen he’s no longer the Pied Piper he once was.
Dhoom 3 is like a firmament lit up with those old, yellow, 120-watt bulbs, and Aamir Khan a 14 watt CFL bulb. Weak and struggling, he sticks out.
His character here is a magician who seeks revenge and can pull off the craziest stunts. In this he’s ably assisted by the CGI team, stuntmen and body doubles. He even gets a bike that Batman will be jealous of. Yet, Aamir Khan’s cool quotient is zero.
Instead of playing this character with humour, irony, even chutzpah, he wears it down. A tense, lumbering man, he very effectively reduces a flamboyant character to a tiny, scowling, beefy action figure with a limited range of motion and one emotion.
Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan would have set the screen on fire. Aamir Khan just made me worry about my behind that was turning to stone. The film is 172 minutes long. It seems much longer.
It’s 1990 and we are in cold, grey Chicago, where Iqbal (Jackie Shroff), a magician, runs The Great Indian Circus. This circus is housed in an impressive, old building that is mortgaged to the Western Bank of Chicago. Iqbal has no money, few magical tricks up his sleeve and a son, Sahir (Siddharth Nigam).
Mother may be dead, divorced or on a long trip overseas. We don’t know. We are not informed. Fathers and sons — that’s Aditya Chopra’s fixation and that’s what we get in film after film from the YRF studios.
Evil gora banker, Anderson (Andrew Bicknell), arrives in a Cadillac to decide The Great Indian Circus’ fate. Iqbal and Sahir perform and the film’s music directors conjure up Bharat Mata in this hostile land where the white man values money more than people. Anderson is unmoved and decides to auction the place. This is deeply depressing for proud magician Iqbal, so he decides to take an extreme step, but only after he has taught his son life’s three important lessons:
* Never beg, because, beta, tumhari izzat tumhare haath mein hai.
* Blood bonds are sacred. Never let go of the one who is yours.
* If caught in a situation you can’t get out of, execute the quickest suicide mission.
I can’t narrate the story without spoiling the film’s two surprises. Suffice to say that if you replace Anderson with the old village moneylender — the ubiquitous Kanhaiyalal — you’ll know where Dhoom 3 is headed. Though, because there’s no mother who can be sexually assaulted in the anaj ka godown, the moral mission to wreck havoc on a bank, i.e. its innocent customers, remains suspect.
Sahir, now an adult and played by Aamir Khan, makes it his mission to bankrupt the bank and get The Great Indian Circus back.
He skitters down buildings, rides his bike on limp ropes, scowls and after robbing the bank, leaves a strange joker mask and a taunt in Hindi on the vaults. To translate this one line — “...tumhari aisi ki taisi” — two cops from India are summoned.
Before landing in Chicago, Jai (Abhishekh Bachchan) and Ali (Uday Chopra) show us that their joints are not creaky by fighting some random goons.
Abhishek Bachchan is still Mr Serious, just like papa, and Uday Chopra is still silly and cracks jokes — most of them directed at women, including Victoria Williams (Tabrett Bethell), a hot Chicago cop assigned to work with them.
Meanwhile, Sahir the performer likes to dance after every successful outing to the bank despite the fact that he’s a terrible dancer. Aamir Khan’s tap dance is more like a stomp-the-fish-in-the-paddy-field exercise. Ungainly and ridiculous. Sahir plans to put up a grand show and for this he requires a female partner. Instantaneously, Aaliya (Katrina Kaif) arrives on a cycle and proceeds to do a striptease with the most convoluted calisthenics. Sahir is impressed, she’s hired and we heave a sigh of relief at finally finding someone we can anchor ourselves to.
Despite glimpses of her body double and awkward, jumpy cuts in the dance sequence, we want Katrina Kaif, the film’s only star, around.
Unfortunately, her job here is mostly done. Jai throws a challenge, Sahil bites and this leads to the film’s first interesting twist. After interval, things go quite queer.
If you take Dhoom 3 at face value, then it’s a costly dullard. But if you like to play Dr Freud and Dr Jung, then it’s mildly interesting.
Despite the gaping holes in the script, we are dropped into a psychological mirror room where everything is in reverse. There’s a touch of noir here, and potential.
As ego, sibling rivalry and other subterranean stuff starts to come out (Dead Ringer, anyone?), Aamir Khan’s character goes camp with a vengeance. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the film and seems to be just Mr Khan’s personal enterprise, a whim to play a heavily accessorised, hairless gay man.
Soon we are at the big last fight in which we are totally uninterested because the moral ground has shifted -- Jai stands on it now, and Sahir is just a petulant piddi. This dreariness is redeemed by the film’s last two-three minutes. The climax is superb, even if it seems to have a one-man audience in mind. Someone please get a ticket for Justice G.S. Singhvi. Now that he’s retired, morning show will do.
Aamir Khan and the film’s director have Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock on their mind. They believe that some exaggerated posturing and a bowler’s hat will get the job done. It’s doesn’t.
The film Dhoom 3’s producers paid for was meant to be a grand, seductive, dizzy journey. Unfortunately, our travel companions on this journey are old fogies who have seen and shown us better days. This disconnect spotlights the inadequacy and incompetence of the film’s director and actors, and we return home wanting to go to sleep and forget that the Dhoom franchise has ended on a whimper. Or has it?