Earlier this fall I went to Chicago to see the SLAM! tour. Which was quite an experience, and really fun. (Minneapolis is not big enough/home to a large enough South East Asian community for a show like that to come here, hence the road trip.) And since we were already in Chicago for one Bollywood event, why not watch “Dhoom 3,” which is largely set in Chicago, while we were there? So we did, thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
“Dhoom 3” is the latest in the Dhoom franchise. There’s not really a lot of plot continuity, so you can watch them in any order, but the production values do increase for each one. They are fun and fairly brainless pieces of fluff, and I really do enjoy them. They are nominally cop caper films, but really, especially as the series has gone on, the focus has shifted far more to the villain of the film. At this point he’s really more of an anti-hero than a villain, to be honest–you sympathize with him, and understand why he’s doing bad things, the anti-hero in this film is trying to right a greater wrong by committing lesser crimes.
Perhaps I should move on to plot summary, now that the analysis has been taken care of.
The Great Indian Circus in Chicago has fallen on hard times, and Mr Anderson of the Western Bank of Chicago is unwilling to extend any more leniency to Iqbal Khan. So Iqbal Khan kills himself, leaving his young son Sahir to fend for himself (WORST FATHER EVER), not to mention all the rest of the circus employees. Flash forward to 2013. Sahir has managed to reopen the Great Indian Circus, and is also leading a secret double life as a bank robber who is targeting branches of the Western Bank of Chicago. There are thrilling chase scenes involving motorcycles and lots of Chicago landmarks; plot is invoked. We travel back to India for a brief moment to pick up Jai and Ali, the nominal heroes of this franchise, but they really hardly feature in the film–it’s all Sahir, all the time. There’s another bank robbery, and this time the chase scenes are on the water! the motorcycle transforms into a jetski! It’s all very thrilling. And there’s also circus story, including the hiring of Aaliya, who’s sort of a love interest. There is also a Plot Twist, which if you’ve seen any Bollywood from the 60s or 70s or seen or read “The Prestige” won’t really be a surprise (but knowing what it is won’t spoil how it’s executed in the film) and more chase scenes. And then there’s a rather surprising ending which I wasn’t expecting at all.
So…it’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece for the ages, but it’s fun. And really engaging to watch. The songs are all good, with great costumes and interesting choreography, and many feature vaguely steampunk Aamir Khan in a leather vest and tight pants, so that was really ok with me. But I think my favorite song was the opening number, the by this point obligatory reinterpretation of “Dhoom Machale” that each entry in the franchise does. I still really really like the visuals of the Hrithik Roshan version, but the lyrics are terrible. And yes, I recognize they are probably terrible because they are in English and my Hindi is weak enough that I don’t understand enough to have Insipid Lyrics Alerts going off, but ugh. Come on.
Source: Netflix subscription