Sahir (Aamir Khan) was trained by his father to be very talented circus performer. After the murder of his father, Sahir joins show, co-staring alongside the gymnast Aaliya (Katrina Kaif). His motive is to rob the show's owners, whom he believes were responsible for his father's death.
Proudly preposterous from the very first frame to the last, the third instalment of India’s most successful action series sticks to the formula but also reaches ridiculous new heights in spectacle. Dhoom 3 is populist twaddle of the highest order, and like most blockbusters, somehow manages to be both satisfying and insulting in equal measure.
satisfying and insulting in equal measure
Returning to the roles for which they will be forever remembered are Abhishek Bachchan as hard-as-nails assistant commissioner Jai Dixit and Uday Chopra as his slightly-too-wacky offsider, Ali. The two travel to Chicago and become paired with a ravishing young investigator (Australian Tabrett Bathell) on an investigation into a series of robberies of a banking institution run by the ruthless capitalist Mr. Anderson (Andrew Bicknell).
As far as the audience is concerned, the identity of the thief is no secret. An extended prologue introduces us back to 1990s Chicago and the tragic plight of young Sahir and his father, Iqbal (Jackie Shroff), the proprietor of the Great Indian Circus, the best Indian Circus in the city. (This sequence is one of the strangest you’ll see in cinema this year. It’s title-carded 1990, but its melancholy tone recalls the Prohibition era of the '20s). When Anderson shuts down Iqbal’s dream, the father takes drastic action and Sahir is left an orphan.
Sahir comes of age in the present day in the form of the constantly shirtless Aamir Khan, who has resurrected his father’s dream of reopening the circus while also bringing down the capitalists that doomed him. Much like the Bond franchise, the villains are the real reason to see the Dhoom films; previously played by John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan, here Khan goes all out to top the scenery-chewing standards set by his predecessors. To give away the pre-interval plot twist that sees Dhoom 3 go from guilty pleasure to crazed odyssey would be unfair, though those familiar with Robert Downey Jr’s 'How to win an Oscar’ speech from Tropic Thunder will have the inside track.
The other name player onboard is Katrina Kaif, playing firebrand modern-girl Aaliya, the acrobat/love interest for Sahir. Rarely has an A-lister like Kaif been so underused; her involvement could only be commercially motivated. In the film’s first segment, she has two big dance numbers and almost no dialogue; post-interval, the intelligence she initially exhibits disappears to accommodate the character development of her leading man.
Frankly, though, to become critically engaged, i.e. to overthink the film, is to fall into the mindset that the distributors are pushing, that Dhoom 3, with its 4000-screen domestic release and the biggest worldwide day-and-date rollout of a Bollywood film ever (including 3D and IMAX sessions), is an Important Film. It isn’t. In essence, it’s an extended chase sequence, bridged with inane plotting, dippy dialogue and star posturing. The action is well staged but one note; the constant motorcycle stunt work and related sound effects become tiresome and too reliant upon post-production trickery that’s below the standard expected from a mega-budget production.
Sanjay Gadhvi handed the directorial reins over to Krishna Acharya after helming the 2004 blockbuster and its 2006 sequel, but the legion of fans need not be concerned; Acharya is the series scriptwriter and the whole enterprise has been closely monitored by longtime producer Aditya Chopra and, one suspects, the money men at Yash Raj Films, the studio that has to date reaped 2.225 billion from the franchise.
Dance numbers generally deliver, in particular a rousing stomp-tap routine choreographed by Australian Dein Perry, of Tap Dogs fame.