Why Aamir Khan's Dhoom: 3 is the best of the series so far

Suprateek Chatterjee

December 23, 2013 12:25:17 IST

Warning: The following contains some spoilers of Dhoom: 3.

Back in 2004, Yash Raj Films — well known for love stories and chiffon saris — decided that they were going to get into the action movie business. Sanjay Gadhvi's Dhoom appeared in our cinemas and this version of The Fast and the Furious with a Mumbai tadka worked well at the box office. So well that Dhoom has since become one of the few Bollywood franchises that is successful and eagerly anticipated, despite the fact that the plots aren't original, the loopholes are the size of craters and every film featured Uday Chopra.

Aamir Khan from a Dhoom 3 still. Image courtesy Facebook

Aamir Khan from a Dhoom 3 still. Image courtesy Facebook

I re-watched Dhoom and Dhoom 2 last week and lost approximately 5% of my hair. But for all the problems in the two films, it's important to recognise the Dhoom series as what it wants to be: a silly, often-ridiculous ride that stretches imagination to its breaking point while presenting new gimmicks that aren't hackneyed to most Indian audiences. But after two films, it's tough to keep the regulars in a series interesting and make sure the stories don't become boring. In Dhoom 2 (2006), Gadhvi added Hrithik Roshan and a lot of bizarre heists to the mix to create a massive blockbuster. This time, Vijay Krishna Acharya, who has written all three Dhoom films, is the director and he's taken the action to America and cast Aamir Khan as the thief about town. Here's a report card comparing Dhoom: 3 to its predecessors and guess what? It's actually the best of the series. Here's why:

1. Uday Chopra is not as annoying. 

Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t appear in any other movie and this absence makes our hearts grow fonder (no? too much?), but Chopra’s reduced screen-time in Dhoom: 3 is a huge bonus. In both Dhoom and Dhoom 2, Chopra's Ali was one-dimensional comic relief. Between his hammy attempts at acting funny and the godawful lines he was given, Ali was a a huge irritant earlier. In Dhoom:3, his lines are better and, mercifully, he isn’t given an entire song to express his love for some random, unimportant female character. Which brings me to…

2. Female characters are still unimportant, but at least they don’t evoke homicidal tendencies. 

Compared to Rimi Sen’s Sweety Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Sunehri from the first and second movies respectively, Katrina Kaif’s Aaliya is positively angelic. This franchise is inherently misogynistic and has failed to produce a female character that isn't at least part floozy. Aaliya is from that mould and is a Zooey Deschanel-esque character who can seamlessly switch to Slammin’ Hottie Circus Performer Mode in the space of one striptease-centred song. Although the role isn't inconsequential, Kaif has barely any screen time. However, she does appear in one of the film’s more watchable scenes at a train station in Chicago.

More importantly, she doesn’t accuse anyone of, like, checking her out.

3. More bikes. 

This was supposed to be a franchise about superbikes and what they can do. Dhoom 2, however, lost the plot completely and decided to become a heist movie with a couple of sequences involving bikes tacked on in the beginning and at the end. Dhoom:3 pushes the limits a little too far (Aamir Khan’s BMW bike is essentially the Batcycle), but at least it rewards the viewer with some beautifully-shot chase sequences (big ups to cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee) and not-too-bad VFX.

4. Aamir Khan.

This is one of Aamir Khan’s hammier performances, but the superstar has the ability to inject a sense of dignity and passion into the proceedings. In a double role (as you’ve surely heard by now), Khan does give his characters a few questionable tics, such as a permanently arched eyebrow and an exaggerated tendency to lick his lips. But in scenes that require confrontations with the ever-grumpy Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan in permanent ‘Where’s my Gelusil, bro?’ mode), Khan steals the show with his direct gaze and controlled delivery. He appears silken-smooth without trying to be so, as John Abraham tried so hard to be in the first film. And despite all his shirtless sequences, at no point does Khan appears to be distracted by his own looks, as Hrithik Roshan often was in the second film.

Of course, if you analyse Dhoom:3, there are plenty of problems with it. The biggest of these is a plot-point stolen from Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Prestige and it’s frustrating that for studios and writers who must surely know better, plagiarism isn't plagiarism if the majority of the audience hasn't watched/ heard of a film. So don't think of Dhoom:3 as a film, but as a spectacle garnished with some sort of a story and it works fine.

It's not cinema; it's a non-interactive alternate reality experience, like a video game you can watch but not play. I guess we could just call it The Great Indian Circus.

Updated Date: Dec 23, 2013 13:07 PM