Every once in a while a film comes along that serves as a stark reminder why Bollywood could never compete seriously on a global platform.
In a year that has produced films such as ‘Kai Po Che!’ and ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, that have boasted a crisp storyline and powerful screenplay, along comes a cinematic masterpiece that chucks the very backbone of a good film – it’s script – and decides to go down with a loud ‘Dhoom’ in the third instalment of this money-spinning franchise.
While the action-thriller is far from mediocre, and will probably appeal to the popcorn masses that have lapped up the likes of ‘Krrish 3’ and ‘R... Rajkumar’ in the recent past, one simply can’t help but expect something a little more edgy, and at times, far less ludicrous plot from an Aamir Khan-starrer.
At this point in the review, it’s is imperative to say, if film spoilers rank as one of your top three peeves, then stop reading now.
Set in the concrete jungle of Chicago, the film starts with a flashback where an aged magician, Iqbal Khan (Jackie Shroff), commits suicide in front of his son, when the bank forecloses on his lifelong dream project, The Great Indian Circus.
The prodigal son grows up into Sahir Khan (Aamir) and has made it his life’s very mission to destroy the very bank that shattered his family’s hopes and dreams.
After two highly publicised and successful heists, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is stumped by the unmasked intruder, dropping gems such as: “All we can tell you at this point is that he is a thief!”
Good thing Sherlock Holmes is six feet under or he may have been out of a job by now with such intuitive powers in modern-day investigators.
Of course, the CPD fails to realise the crooked man in question is not wearing a face mask; the simple job of using traffic cameras to capture his image and run it through the system’s face recognition software is far beyond a major American city’s police task force.
But then, what can you expect from a film that has its reporters mouth banal questions such as: “A robbery? In this day and age?”
Cue for shock, gasp and horror.
The boys and girls at CPD are left with no choice but to bring in the top brass, in this case, Mumbai Police’s ACP Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) and his annoying sidekick Ali (Uday Chopra).
It is never really explained why these two ‘supercops’ are called in the first place to Chicago, but the bumbling antics by the CPD sets the premise that only the Indian police has what it takes to bring this perpetrator to justice.
On their parts, the first half of the film does serve up some amusing camaraderie between Jai and Ali; and if this sort of humour isn’t your thing, then you can always kill time by playing the game: ‘Just how many pairs of sunglasses does this duo pack on a trip to catch a crook’.
Meanwhile, in a parallel storyline, ace magician Sahir is on the lookout for an ‘Asian Goddess who sings and dances like liquid electricity’.
No, we are not making this up.
Enters Katrina Kaif with her ‘Kamli’ opening strip tease act; the diva looks and dances like a million bucks, even though she is reduced to all of three sentences in act one, and another four post interval.
On the day Sahir revives his father’s lifelong dream, he is shot in the shoulder by Jai during a spectacular chase sequence through Chicago’s picturesque lakeshore.
But the show must go on, as they say, and Sahir is back on stage hours later, practicing death-defying acts and crooning ‘Malang’ with Kamli girl Aliyah with not a scratch or scar on his skin to account for the 9mm that pierced through his body.
While Holmes is probably laughing in his grave with his ‘Eureka’ realisation at this time, Jai, Ali and the CPD return back to the drawing board with their tails between their legs.
So what is the big secret, you say?
Spoiler time – if you haven’t already figured out the twist as yet.
Sahir has a doppelganger tucked away, a mentally challenged criminal mastermind himself whose been hidden away for decades.
Of course, we should overlook his inability to come up for air through his formative years when he is aired out to at intervals to perfect death defying biker stunts and scale walls when needed during his criminal tag team escapades.
Once the penny finally drops with Jai, he defines a plan to drive a wedge between the two brothers to ultimately, bring about their downfall.
Err, considering the other brother has a bullet wound, surely that is enough grounds for his arrest now?
But no. Director/writer Vijay Krishna Acharya wants to stretch this convoluted plotline even further for a final face off before the end credits rolls out with a skimpily clad Kaif grooving to the Arabic version of the ‘Dhoom 3’ title track (nifty addition for the Middle East release).
In quite honesty, the film has several high points, the biggest being Aamir himself. The powerhouse is a sheer delight to watch, his intensity, his arrogance and his vulnerability as Samar.
Samar’s body language, his innocence and his childlike humour is depicted beautifully, that it can’t help but serve a stark reminder to other stars why Aamir remains one of the finest actors Bollywood has ever discovered.
In fact, Aamir’s presence is so powerful that at one point you actually forget that there is also an Abhishek Bachchan in the film.
The latter star has been one of the favourites of this writer; however, it is a tad disappointing that the man who gave us gems such as ‘Yuva’ and ‘Guru’ is reduced to a mockery of a role that mouths puppet-ish lines at directed intervals.
You can’t blame him of course in ‘Dhoom 3’; it was the writer-director who missed the boat on milking this star’s acting skills to the 100 per cent mark.
The other two leads, namely Katrina and Uday, are left as the side props, to ooze glamour and comic relief when needed.
While we give full marks to the film for its special effects and adrenaline-charged chase sequences – a high calibre act for Bollywood standards – what’s a real letdown is the ‘how’.
This magician is robbing banks at the twist of his hat, but not once in the film do they actually show how he manages to break into the vault and actually get his greedy paws on the cash. Surely, that is a glaring missing piece of this puzzle.
If you disregard the logic and the loopholes, ‘Dhoom 3’ does rise above the mediocrity that the Bollywood film factory has a history of producing and emerges as the perfect popcorn thriller to kill a few hours with.
Plus, the visual imagery of ‘Malang’ and ‘Tu Hi Junoon’ are an added cherry to this slightly undercooked pastry.