Dhoom 3: Aamir Khan succumbs to low-brow cinema

Published: December 24, 2013
The last resisting Khan finally crosses over to the dark side of Bollywood.

The last resisting Khan finally crosses over to the dark side of Bollywood.


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

Rating: 1.5/5

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Khurram Awan
    Dec 24, 2013 - 11:32PM

    This important newspiece of Turkish premier in Lahore was mentioned as a small news on Express tribune and even after one day ET editorial woke up to this news. Then it was removed from the main page in the interval of half day period with a Dhoom 3 news.
    Shame on Pakistani media where Turkish Premier arrival news got the coverage of less than a day but the Kareena Kapoor’s advertisements and Dhoom 3 is getting full day coverage all the time.



  • Dec 24, 2013 - 11:47PM

    Completely agree with you – absolute nonsense of a movie and I feel guilty having contributed to their box office takings.


  • Ali
    Dec 25, 2013 - 12:13AM

    one side criticising the movie,one side banned the indian movie and finally one side it broke fake waar box office. shame on pakistani stupids.


  • hasan
    Dec 25, 2013 - 12:21AM

    I’m surprised you had any hope in this guy. He has always been “andhoon mai karaan raja”. Most of his movies worth watching have been good because of the directors vision (Farhan Akhtar and the guy who directed Lagaan) not because of Amir’s acting talent or his ability to pick the right project to work on.

    This is a guy who took a masterpiece by Nolan (Memento) that deals with identity and existential questions and used it to showcase bawdy.


  • Dec 25, 2013 - 12:27AM

    So many fools watching it. I am not watching it even if it is available online for free


  • Umer
    Dec 25, 2013 - 12:46AM

    @Khurram Awan:
    Turkish PM may be your master not ours.


  • Np
    Dec 25, 2013 - 1:19AM

    Amir has done other. Ommercia, potboilers like Dil and Raja Hindustani as well. He had a negative role in Raakh.


  • Falcon
    Dec 25, 2013 - 1:39AM

    This is the most candid critique I have seen from a film critic. May be Rafay should also consider venturing into political analysis with his forthrightness :)


  • zaheer
    Dec 25, 2013 - 2:13AM

    Dear Mr RAFAY ,

    I think you are senseless DHOOM 3 is one of the best film of AAMIR KHAN.His performance
    in this movie awesome.That’s why it’s making records.I have seen this thrice brilliant .Dhoom 3 is already got 4.5 star .STUPID


  • Asif Butt
    Dec 25, 2013 - 2:21AM

    What else should one expect from an “Indian Movie” ?
    Dear Author , dont get personal will you.

    In Bollywood , money matters.

    And the MONOPOLIST stars enjoy their monarchy.

    So lets not start expecting something Hollywood from Bollywood , not gonna happen….


  • sensible
    Dec 25, 2013 - 3:00AM

    Amir carried the film on his shoulders with superb acting. Without amir movie would’ve been a big dud.


  • Critics
    Dec 25, 2013 - 3:16AM

    Thats one critical review.


  • Dec 25, 2013 - 7:38AM

    You may be right that its not a good movie but I think it is a nice movie with double role of aamir khan, I like his role in Dhoome : 3.Recommend

  • Indian
    Dec 25, 2013 - 8:51AM

    Hrithik Roshan’s Dhoom 2 was far better than this movie. However, Dhoom 3 is not as bad a movie as Rafay is suggesting here…seriously 1.5/5? I would give 3/5Recommend

  • Khurram Khan
    Dec 25, 2013 - 8:51AM

    Look its supposed to be an action movie blockbuster – its part of the Dhoom franchise

    Why would there not be a overdose of one-liners and over-the-top action sequences. Bachchan has been playing himself, not just since the first film, but in most of his films and Katrina Kaif has always been eye candy, thats how she markets herself.

    Why would you be expecting anything different ? The question is, is the action even more over the top and the one-liners even more cliched then the previous installments – if they are then great – because thats what this particular genre requires and sequels are supposed to out do themselves.


  • Ibrahim
    Dec 25, 2013 - 9:27AM

    And Taare Zameen Par?Don’t talk nonsense.Aamir has the right & freedom to play in a commercial movie.Even in Hollywood, great actors like Tom Hanks did.


  • Ibrahim
    Dec 25, 2013 - 9:35AM

    @hasan: No.It’s Aamir who gave value to Ashutosh, Farhan, Om Prakash Mehra even though they have done good movies.And where do you put Taare Zameen Par?(Produced & directed by Aamir himself).No,Don’t talk nonsense. Aamir has the right & freedom to play in a commercial movie.When you watch Dhoom, you can’t expect to see Rang De Basanti.It’s one of the best performance of Khan but in a purely commercial film.


  • sanika
    Dec 25, 2013 - 10:16AM

    I have different views.
    The movie can give a sudden kick to someone leading a passive life for a long time.
    Keep the Christopher Nolan aside and everything else aside.Be someone who watches the movie so he can use the message given it in his own life and cherish it.
    I saw the movie on 24th december and on the christmas morning I felt like Santa is real for he gave me a gift that I can cherish for quite a long time.
    Its a great movie.Recommend

  • Lalit
    Dec 25, 2013 - 11:14AM

    people criticizing Bollywood and those asking for banning them first go to watch these movies with those who love them.so all contribute in making it a box office success.


  • salman
    Dec 25, 2013 - 11:57AM

    it was better than krissh 3 and chennai express


  • Asif Butt
    Dec 25, 2013 - 1:03PM

    First of all Merry Christmas to you .

    You and every 1 else have the right to draw positive messages from whatever movie they like.

    But Sanika , I must share my opinion with you.

    In the end of the movie , we hear Jai ( Abhishek Bachan) telling us about the MORALITY to gain from their story. How he talks to the departed twins and tell them that they have won. And that the Banks shouldnt do this .

    Sanika is this a good message ? Are Banks evil who force us to utilize them ?

    I enjoyed the movie for the things which could be enjoyed , but you know what I wud summarize it as :-

    “Suicidal sons of a suicidal father”

    That is not a good message.

    Life is a STRUGGLE. Success is a JOURNEY not a destination.

    People should never be interested in outcomes , the DOING is what matters.

    And Happy Quaid day to everyone .


  • Hassan
    Dec 25, 2013 - 6:33PM

    @Rafay Mehmood.

    you should become a politician because you dont have any taste either.


  • Abho
    Dec 25, 2013 - 7:09PM

    For my choice, Ghajini’s Sanjay Singhania until he meets the gruesome incident is the best character played by Aamir, followed by Dil Chahata Hai in 2nd and 3 Idiots character in 3rd position.

    He himself is an excellent movie maker but he also has to be in the 100 crore club for his good movies to do great.

    That compulsion could be the reason for this movie.

    Still, his next few releases matter because he cannot play a romantic hero thereafter for long. That changes equation significantly.


  • AK
    Dec 25, 2013 - 9:09PM

    I was wondering why we some people always try to find ‘logical connections’ in every scene instead of taking film as Film. Did you people ever try to see any logic for the movies like Quantum of solace, The Expendables 2, Furious 6. I can name so many more. It is better to take Dhoom 3 in the same way and Enjoy it.


  • Sami
    Dec 25, 2013 - 11:19PM

    I completely disagree with the article. It’s a good commercial film. Instead of criticizing, we should be proud of Aamir that he is the master of masala movies along with subject oriented movies like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par etc. On top of all, it’s being loved by the audience and on way to be one of the biggest hits of all time. So. Cheers!


  • muffaddal
    Dec 26, 2013 - 3:30AM

    enough yaar,
    how much u critisize amir for this movie… every actor even amitab bacchan has done films like boom, god tussi great ho buthnat etc so many even..he is a legend …. actor never knows how director will make.the movie ..its director fault not actor…. atleast aamir justify the role he plays in movie…though talash was nt blockbuster but he played hischaractor brilliantly.. he never wear goggles to look smart .. he always show his act completely wid his face and body lanaguage….so please respect him for.doing something new atleast everytime…. i m sure next movie wid raj kumar hirani pk will make u eat your own words….


  • KAKA
    Dec 26, 2013 - 11:13AM

    wasted 450rs on this movie….shame on geo news for creating hype for worthless movie


  • Hunter Punter
    Dec 26, 2013 - 5:12PM

    Frankly, Amir performed as competently as he always does. The Movie was paisa vasool. and the technical finesse and chases, etc, were as sophisticated as Hollywood. The movie deserves a rating of B+ to A-. no reason to not enjoy it, yet no reason to see it again. Amir double role was executed with great finesse.


  • Nida
    Dec 29, 2013 - 10:02AM

    This seems a pretty biased review. Bollywood movies are suppose to be total “Entertainment” hitting all the aspects like story, actions, actings & good songs. Dhoom 3 covers all of them. Amir khan is a fantastic actor. The way he portrayed dual roles showed his acting skills. The reason it is breaking off so many records is one of the proves that the movie is a good package. The movie is focusing on entertainment aspect and nothing else.

    Watch the movie with intentions of getting entertained. nothing else.


  • A Rafay Admirer
    Dec 30, 2013 - 1:05AM

    Beautifully said Rafay. You are spot on with your analysis. The fact of the matter is most of the Bollywood movies are inconsequential, idiosyncratic and anti-intellectual. It not only speaks volumes of the people who make these movies but also those who watch these really pathetic and embarrassing movies and in turn generate revenues that help them get into the 100, 200, 300 crore club.
    It may sound harsh but Bollywood movies and the people who claim them to be “entertaining” and “awesome” are equally inconsequential, idiosyncratic and anti-intellectual and are considered such by the world outside.


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