For many Bollywood fans around the world, Aamir Khan has become more of a symbolic presence in the industry than star power. The scripts he plans to execute and the characters he chooses to play have helped him maintain the ideal combination of commercial success and critical acclaim, making him a symbol of hope — hope that he may be the only vanguard against the inconsequential, idiosyncratic and anti-intellectual hub of film-making that Bollywood is slowly turning itself into in its search for the Holy Grail; the 100, 200 and 300 crore club.
Hopelessness and despair are the only two words that define an Aamir Khan fan’s emotional state after watching Dhoom 3, because their messiah has finally succumbed to the dark side of Bollywood.
The film begins with Iqbal (Jackie Shroff) preparing for his pitch to get funding for ‘the great Indian circus’ that is about to close down. He makes his son Sahir (Aamir Khan)disappear from a box, and reappear in front of it. For Iqbal, it is the most incredible magic trick ever, but potential investors from a major bank are not impressed and refuse to fund the project. Iqbal shoots himself in agony, leaving Sahir with a vengeance against the bank, and an inherited love for magic.
However, the real fun begins when, as a viewer, you don’t quite find anything extraordinary about the magic trick for which Iqbal shot himself. In a nutshell, the whole magic trick lacked what Christopher Priest calls the ‘Prestige’, which he explains in his book: “Making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call The Prestige.”
Despite being a major part of the plot, along with various moments ripped off from Christopher Nolan’s on-screen adaptation of the same book, it is the ‘Prestige’ that Dhoom 3 lacks in all of its thematic and stylistic elements; the ideal finish is what’s missing. The overdose of one-liners in a script that has everything but a properly connected cause-and-effect chain, or the over-the-top action sequences that viewers are bombarded with time and again, build up to nothing dramatically significant.
This brings us to Bollywood’s knack for tasteless Urdu poetry, which is evident in the short poem that a grown up Sahir narrates whenever he is about to rob a bank, or perform a magic trick to take revenge for his father’s death.
“Bande hain hum uske, Hum pe kiska zor, Ummedon ke sooraj nikle chaaron ore,
Iraadein hain fauladi, Himmati har kadam, Apne haathon kismat likhne, Aaj chale hain hum.” (We are His men, only He can control us, A ray of hope is rising all around us, Our determination is steel-like, each step is full of courage, To write our fate with our own hands, We start today.)
For a film like Dhoom3 and an industry like Bollywood, this is an amateur rhyme any jobless poet wasting time in Gulrang (the Karachi Arts Council’s canteen) can come up with.
Like most of the franchises in Bollywood, Dhoom 3 has no connection with Dhoom 2. All it retains is Bollywood’s equivalent of Batman and Robin in the form of Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) and Ali (Uday Chopra) — two undercover cops that have been busting thieves since Dhoom. They are once again hired to find the magician/criminal, who leaves behind a mask and a message in Hindi whenever he robs a bank.
Bachchan has been playing himself, not a character, since the first film, and carries on doing so, while Chopra has mastered the character of the idiot sidekick he is supposed to play. This is Chopra’s best performance to date. Eye candy Katrina Kaif is just that, with very few scenes with dialogue. The ‘actor’ shows quite some skin throughout the movie which, apart from the interval, is the most engaging part of Dhoom 3. Don’t wait for the Dhoom Machale Dhoom song in the end — it’s boring. What you really need to watch attentively for is the song Kamli, in which she periodically removes her clothes. That is also the only memorable song from the film.
Sahir offers an interesting dichotomy to Khan’s career as an actor, and that is perhaps why he chose the role. But, having said that, Khan deserved way better, and so did his fans. Vijay Krishna Acharya’s script and narrative offer nothing for Khan to capitalise on, resulting in a performance that could have been given by a newbie. Khan is most to blame though, after all, he made the choice to do this film.
Verdict: Dhoom 3 is the epitome of nonsense cinema with Aamir Khan delivering what is perhaps the worst performance of his career. Go watch it to see Katrina Kaif looking sexier than ever. Otherwise, it is a definite waste of time and attention
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2013.