Monday, December 23, 2013

Dhoom 3

[One sorta spoiler, and it's coming right now, so skip to the next paragraph if you're afraid.] Yougaiz, how much of a twist can it possibly be if it's an infamous trait of 1970s Bollywood? And now that I think about it, someone should organize a really good dissection of what the concept of "twist" does and can mean, where the line is between a twist and just consequence-free writing, and whether some producers cackle with glee when reviewers are forced to keep mum about huge problems with of a film for fear of having their heads torn off for giving away the twist, which is how I felt about trying to write about Talaash. [End spoiler.]

Chicago
1. I've been waiting for ages for a Hindi film to feature Chicago in any way, even just in a song, because the very brief appearance in What's Your Rashee? hardly counts, and Dhoom 3 lives up to my hopes. It looks beautiful and captures exactly what I am always captivated by in the city: substantial and soaring architecture, the flower beds, the vast and orderly grid of streets, the whole separate world that seems to exist on the river, the great sapphire lake. Bonus points for using so much of the museum campus.
2. Having vehicle chases along the lower drives and the river lift bridges is the correct thing to do, and despite being certain such scenes would appear, I had fun watching them play out.
3. Chicago police cars apparently have no brakes. An homage to Blues Brothers*? (Watch this clip, especially at about 2:20, if you don't know the film—the streets ought to look quite familiar.)

bizarro Chicago
1. A guy runs down the side of a building in the downtown of a major US city in broad daylight as cash flies out of windows high above and the police get no pictures or videos of him from passers-by? Come on, writers.
2. The film's repeated use of "Asian" to mean "South Asian" makes me think YRF confused Chicago with London (or just assumed big UK audiences), just as KJo did with San Francisco back in My Name Is Khan, in which "Americans" hurled "Paki" as a racist insult, which I have never heard an American say. I'm pretty sure a poster advertising for an "Asian girl" in Chicago would get you candidates from East and Southeast Asia, not South, shortly before it got you arrested for soliciting mail order brides.
3. In a city with apparently not a single Hindi-speaking cop or qualified police consultant, there is inexplicable German signage in the airport and train station, and this metropolis of the Prairie State now has mountains on the horizon and a giant dam in a rocky ravine. An homage to The Simpsons?

songs
1. Wow.
2. Wow.
3. FINALLY! A TAP DANCE!!!!!!!!! And where I would least expect it. I will be watching this over and over, even if just out of a sense of relief that such a thing now exists.

Aamir-o-rama  (Aamirama?)
1. Given the script, he's probably one of only two people I'd want to see even try this role (the other being Shahrukh) (yes, it is possible to be fond of both).
2. I secretly [note from Editor Self: no longer secret] love to watch Aamir dance. I understand he's not the best out there, and he appears to be concentrating very hard in some of it, but I love it anyway.
3. Like with the dancing, I think he's trying really hard. You might argue too hard. You might wonder why effort is being harnessed to some of the purposes apparently demanded by this film, and I would echo that question. But he's doing something, which is more than I can say for…

Abhishek
1. Dude. Duuuuuude. Lighten up. Your brief turns in disguise, when you got to be someone goofier and looser than Jai, are nice; ultimately, they just make me weep for the days of Bunty and Bluffmaster. I'm sure it's no fun to be repeatedly outshone in your own franchise, but that's been the case since 2006, so can't you put on a braver face for the cameras?
2. It's not his fault that his "hero" entrance is so silly, but it really is very silly. Nobody buys that version of Abhishek anymore, if they ever did, surely? The one whose muscles we literally never see is the one busting through walls and felling baddies? That doesn't even make movie-sense, really. Just roar up on the auto and get on with it. Bas.
3. Whoever did the outerwear for the wardrobe department likes Abhishek a lot. Those are some great coats.

Katrina
1. Is in the movie the approximate right amount and ways for my liking. I have never before thought there was not far too much Katrina in any of her movies.
2. Should maybe stick to dancing because she still doesn't have her voice or her pouty-pucker toddler fishface under as much control as the rest of her body. What gives with your face, Katfish?
3. The movie is a spectacular Bechdel fail and has no energy for any female characters other than Aliya, but at least she's a pretty okay character. She has skills and knows how to use them. She's forthright and relatively bold, and her reactions and decisions make sense. For the number of guns in this movie, she is used only sparingly as an object in the cops and robbers game or in the final showdown. This is faint praise, but it's rare for me to walk out of an action movie and think that even one woman was a halfway decent character.

Uday
1. Is also in the movie the approximate right amount and ways.
2. Is relatively inoffensive, especially with so many jokes at his expense.
3. He really is such a curious case, isn't he? What is it about him that has made him so widely and repeatedly rejected by audiences when his biggest sin compared to those of many of the other legions of industry kids is being not-handsome?

Jackie Shroff's character
1. Does not understand how banking works.
2. Does not understand that most audiences, by 1990, had in fact seen a magic trick in which someone disappears from a closed box only to reappear elsewhere in the room.
3. Does not understand how parenting works.

as a whole
1.  In a perfect world, we don't praise films for simply not sucking, but because the Curse of the Second Half is so common and because I'd heard many people tweeting about how long the film felt to them, I want to stick up for this one. The Aamirama that occupies it is interesting and perfectly watchable. Not novel or anything, but fine.
2. I like the balance and arrangement of elements. On the other hand, the audience in my cinema only laughed once (at—emphasis on "at"—the entrance of Uday) and had no other audible reactions. No whistles, no gasps, nothing.
3.  I can't put my finger on why, but this doesn't quite cohere into a truly finished product for me. There are lots of bright shiny beads, but they aren't strung properly. As Raja Sen said of himself in his review, I too actually like director Vijay Krishna Acharya's Tashaan a lot and respect what it was trying to do (as do several of you, I know, dear readers), but, as with this movie, ultimately it doesn't simmer with full anima and instead is a bit cold and robotic. That's not exactly the same sensation I had while watching Dhoom 3, but both films earn a "Oooh, close but not quite." However, I can easily imagine that two generations from now, when Dhoom 3 has become retro, that it may hold the kind of loopy, unconstrained-by-logic joy and exuberant details for viewers in the future that, say, the original Don does for us now. Think of it: great songs, circus visuals and metaphors/framing, weird outfits, chase scenes crash bang boom! I realize full well much of it doesn't make sense, and that faces are made and some stylized characterizations are far too entrenched, but I am pleased by what else I was offered and by what surely is huge effort towards particular components of it. I had fun, and that will do.

* Friends, does Blues Brothers have any significance in your pop cultural tapestry? I might be evicted from my home state if I admitted how few times I've seen it.

13 comments:

dustdevil liz said...

Do the Chicago scenes merit seeing it on the big screen?

(Blue Brothers is part of my pop cultural currency, only because it came out when my older siblings were teens and they quoted it, so I perceived it as being 'cool.')

Beth Watkins said...

Hmm. Not by themselves probably, no, especially not if you've been to Chicago or remember the Fugitive well etc etc.

Loon Bert said...

Dhoom 3 is really nice movie
to watch this movie online please visit http://www.tappp.com/.

Temple said...

I think The Blues Brothers is the closest thing to a Telugu film made in English. I love it.

But back to D3. I saw this with the most excellent company of an anonymous Bollywood dance teacher and she was impressed by the range of choreographic workarounds used to disguise how woeful Aamir's dancing is. Dubbing the taps over his non-moving feet was genius, and he could concentrate on the Ta-Da hands.

Beth - I think each actor was asked to pick a card from the deck marked 'Facial Expressions' and use whichever one they picked at all times unless advised. So Aamir mostly looked like someone had farted under his nose (unless he used the other expression), Abhishek was glowering (as usual Jai would make a decision and feel bad about it and then make that everyone else's problem while he sulks and ignores the law until it suited him to get back on his high horse), Ewwday looked confused (as was I seeing him in yet another film - are there no other unemployed Chopras they could try?) and Katrina did model face with optional pout and manly dancing.

I quite liked some of the daft vehicular stunts while others took far too long for too little payoff. And that's a problem throughout the whole film. Stuff that should be glossed over is so drawn out and other bits flow really nicely.

The only real magic trick in the whole movie is how the hell Katrina got those legwarmers (and all the other layers) off over her boots while doing callisthenics.

memsaabstory.com said...

I liked Tashaan too so maybe I will give this a try. I didn't hate Krrish 3 either...of course my taste is and always has been suspect.

And I had the entertaining experience of watching Aamir shoot a song, albeit a love song which didn't require a lot of fancy footwork. He does work at it very very hard, as he does everything :D His work matters to him.

Beth Watkins said...

Temple - I agree about the workarounds and they all came together to make a pretty good song. I hope your friend is not in the Australian tap company that spent 30 days teaching Aamir this song, according to a video on the YRF youtube channel. Could you tell if he actually had taps on? I saw some on backing dancers but not on him. STILL. I hope this inspires someone to do a full-on tap number.

I hope Katrina did not try to teach Aamir about her special non-face-using acting! The one thing I know for certain I would cut out, if I could , is the horrible prologue with Jackie and all. OMG WHO CARES. It's a Hindi film - can we not just be left to assume there is a tragic childhood by the old photo or something?

My memories of Katrina's initial footwear were wiped out by the thigh-high hooker boots in the song in the credits.

PS I am going to email you another question because it relates to the spoilers that I very much want your assessment on.

memsaab - I didn't hate Krrish 3 either! Have we entered another dimension? I hope in this song you saw that Aamir gets to smile, which goes a long way in selling things. I can't in good conscience tell you to see D3 immediately but if you feel like going to the cinema I don't think you'll regret those hours.

Nanga Fakir said...

Typo alert! It's "What's your Rashee?" as opposed to 'What's your Rahsee?' See link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27s_Your_Raashee%3F

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Great blog! Keep up the good work.

Beth Watkins said...

Sigh. Another case of fingers not keeping up with brain. :)

Manoj S said...

I liked the way of explanations of the scenes.

rajagiri padhu said...

I was actually feeling sad that a much awaited film had proved to be a turkey. Even now there are many who are dissing the film AND Aamir's performance

Bollywood movies

Mette said...

I just still can't wait to see this movie - and for the exact reasons you pointed out that made you enjoy it. It's just Dhoom, it's no big deal.
Oh and I really want to see more of Chicago now that I've read Divergent.

moviesfreak said...

Amir Khan is a Very Good Actor.Dhoom 3 is awesome movie.

Zafar Iqbal said...

I like the way you described it and would like to see more from you. Dhoom 3